Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017

* * *


by Rex Gressett

The Fort Bragg City Council met at Town Hall last Monday night in another meeting running to the legal maximum of 10pm.

From the outset, it looked ominously like it was going to be a long meeting but, in spite of the dense agenda, there was a curious buoyancy. There is something so inherently upbeat about spending money that it generates a positive vibe even when warning lights are blinking massively.

One major attraction of being on the basically volunteer Fort Bragg City Council is the exotic gratification of knowing that one has stumbled somehow into the power to blow huge amounts of hard cash without thinking it through and not get in trouble for doing it.

This awesome power only dimly imagined by the masses is unique to the craft of governance. The Fort Bragg City Council is learning all about it.

Crafty agenda planning subjected the council to terminal fatigue before they got down to brass tacks. Perhaps no accident. First, there was a surprise about grant guru Jennifer Owen and lots of fun to take the edge off the serious stuff.

In her regular staff comments, with severely calculated understatement, outgoing City Manager Linda Ruffing glibly mocked the City Council with the news that Jennifer Owen, “state expert” on CDGB grants, was leaving for a new position at the North Coast Brewery. It is rumored that she will be CFO.

This going-away present from the Linda faction to the city was calculated to have the effect of a tactical nuclear weapon. Linda was wickedly eloquent in her sharp little message to the despised council that has fired her so rudely. She might have to go, but she was taking her pet grant writer with her (Damn you all).

The basis of city financing for the entirety of Linda Ruffing's long tenure was a devil’s bargain by which the low income of a majority of city residents qualified Fort Bragg for federal funds. As a city, we are formally economically disadvantaged. Ironically, this has been the basis for our comparative solvency since the mill closed in 2002. Jennifer Owen was the key person in all of it. These happy chunks of federal cash were used to feed a pro-Ruffing constituency and the 7.5% of the grants that the city gets to keep are useful to offset the beefy salaries of the city administration running the circus.

In biology, it's called a symbiotic relationship.

Jennifer Owen’s function was to actually drag down the federal dollars while her pals at Development did their part to keep most development and anything like general prosperity from interfering with our qualifications as a disadvantaged community.

It sounds too rude to be true but a voting majority of the city now clearly understands that for 20 years economic distress has been built into the financial architecture of the Ruffing system.

It worked, just not for everybody. Now they are mad and they are taking their CBDG grant connections with them. Jennifer Owen is not going to do her money voodoo for the crude misogynists that fired her pal.

They whizzed through the Consent Calendar and started off with fun things.

The City Manager’s selected marketing consultant Aspen Logan of the Color Mill, told us what was going on with the TOT (transit occupancy tax/bed tax) gathered from our hotels and allocated to market the city to prospective tourists.

Ms. Aspen was giving us a progress report on how things were going now that Linda has successfully thrown the locals under the bus who were succeeding so strikingly on dirt cheap social media. Adults resumed proper control and engaged appropriate consultants.

Ms. Aspen, the local coordinator for the branding and marketing effort, described a complex intellectual process, involving (this surprised me) all of us. Together we would create a brand. A “Brand,” we learned, involves many subtleties, sophistications of association, color schemes and carefully crafted elements of identity, and yet branding actually springs as we learned from within the human heart.'

We were shown color pictures taken somewhere else demonstrating how nice it is to be in Fort Bragg.

Solemn assurances were made that when the mysterious oysters of creativity had produced their pearls, our color pictures and “taglines” would be the equal of anyplace, anywhere. The Color Mill branding expert had an unflappable confidence in her occult craft.

She thought even my disparaging grumbling was positive in the sense that with sufficient interpretation the apparently negative can actually be positive. Nothing got her down.

When a naive councilman asked her humbly what was going to happen with all of this visionary photography and tagline poetics, she was a little vague. Little sprouts of community introspection grow into their perfect expression and go looking for eyeballs.

I confess to being doubtful, but perhaps genius will amaze me and we will go viral on the sheer power of a truly inspired tagline with just the right colors.

I could not help but wonder if our little village of 7,000 will not have to pay hard cash for what will likely be expensive and therefore limited conventional advertising exposure.

I guess “branding” will surprise me, but I had to reflect that his super collaboration and communion with our collective soul is a long way from Sharon Davis's guerilla marketing.

The Chamber of Commerce CEO was palpably bringing people to our city without “taglines” on social media and doing it for peanuts. Linda's grown-up marketing, on the other hand, is the groundwork for a generic ad campaign. It aspires at best to make one of the most novel and exceptional places on earth look just like every other beach community in California.

Linda almost lost control of the bed tax money when Davis committed the treason of succeeding brilliantly.

The CEO of the Chamber got caught running an operation that got results using a small, tight innovative local team. Ms. Ruffing was not amused. The Chamber of Commerce team forgot to consult the experts before they achieved results. Linda Ruffing with no particular apology crushed success and gave the money back to the professionals who know how to conduct a good study before they do something. Now we are back in our comfort zone, studying it to death.

The odd thing about the creative enterprise to find a brand for the city is how curiously similar these initial best efforts were to everything else in the advertising universe.

Their conceptions did not distinguish our old distinguished city. Instead, they made the case with generalities that Fort Bragg is not entirely unacceptable.

True enough, but it seems a pretty weak argument for coming here. The glossy shots on the beach were any old beach, and the creative “taglines” about unwinding and finding one's own unwind work perfectly — any sandy where on earth. I wonder how the taglines and branding are going to synthesize Paul Bunyan Days into their proposed nature-centered narrative.

Someone should send them an invitation to the joyously belligerant annual celebration of extractive industry excess which is certainly far and away our most popular civic celebration.

The last consultant (Carl) that the city hired for $35k to provide hard data on who comes here and why, earned his money decisively by telling us our best strategy is to be ourselves and to be right out there being ourselves. If you buy into the nature narrative with its focus on dancing on the beach and long walks into the sunset, being ourselves might seem somewhat jarring. I hope not, but the whole thing reminds me I like Fort Bragg more in the winter.

The meeting took a break at 8pm and then went back into a convoluted and digressive discussion on the complexities of retail cannabis licensing in our little town.

This is the kind of thing that they love.

There was ample opportunity for general discussion, no possible community opposition and it was not technical. They painfully hacked out a consensus. Other projects of comparable complexity have taken other City Councils years. The resolution amounted to four licenses for dispensaries not to be located in the residential zones and not in in the core of the central business district. That took hours. You could see them getting tired.

Town Hall had been filled to its capacious brim at 6pm but by the time they got around to the evening’s real business, which was to spend $1.5 million, there were only three people left in the room other than the dog tired City Council and their minders from the city administration.

Two of the determined survivors worked for (actually owned) Akeef Construction — the firm that was about to get the contract. Linda Ruffing hit the alarm bell by merrily asking that they forgo the reading of the staff report on account of the lateness of the hour. A chastened council scoffed at that and the numbers came tumbling out.

Uncharacteristically, there was more than one bid for this major city project. There were two. The bids for the $1 million water tank came in at $1.4 million and $1.7 million.

There was a little rumble of dismay and perplexity up on the dais about going over a million at all. The CDBG grant for the water tank was for $1.1 million The engineering firm contracted by the city to provide an estimate of the tank allowed that it would cost $1.6 million. The low bid was $1.4 million. At the Monday night meeting, they had to go back to the council for $300k. This surprised and shocked the City Council still shell-shocked by the Streets & Alleys debacle. The pros from City Hall thought nothing of it.

An innocent unfamiliar with the operations of civic expenditure might have wondered if the city engineering staff could not have stuck to the one million they had from the feds by just making the tank a tad smaller.

But when the numbers came back, the City Council grumbled a little but largely held their peace. You could see the City Council did not entirely understand or enjoy being hit for an additional $300k.

There was puzzlement perplexity and grumbling. Nobody at City Administration cared or even took the City Council seriously enough to even offer them an explanation. The Council forked over the $300k from the water fund and went home.

* * *

* * *


MSP wasn't near a scanner when this incident was called in today @ 3:14 pm, but so far, as of 5:30 pm, it has NOT been listed by CHP as an 11-44 (deceased).

UPDATE-- At 5:45 pm Monday, the CHP listed this as a "Traffic Collision — Major Injuries."


* * *


Board of Supervisors, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017.

Leonard Winter, CEO of MedSTAR Ambulance in Ukiah: We have some grave concerns concerning the ambulance service in Ukiah. Through the Freedom Of Information Act we have discovered that our competitor is planning to post, I suspect only 12 hours a day, I don't know that, in our locations, approximately 100-300 feet from our doorsteps in our three locations in Ukiah. I think that's a horrible thing that could happen. It will hurt the system. If that happens, the first ambulance to go will probably be the one in Redwood Valley which is the most critical ambulance in the 101 corridor. It covers Ukiah Valley and Willits and Redwood Valley. We go to Potter Valley. Our most recent tragedy we were the first ones on the scene in Potter Valley and Redwood Valley. We were there for days. I know this is coming up today at our providers meeting. We tried to get that meeting changed to another day. We tried not only us but our hospital and a few of the chiefs also tried to get it changed but it did not happen. So when I get through speaking here today I have to rush over to another meeting. I don't know if I have the answers on what can be done about this. Maybe we will find out today at 10 o'clock. I'm not sure. It seems that they are going to take the green right off the top of all these calls within the city of Ukiah.

Supervisor John McCowen: Just to make sure I understand, you have three ambulances stationed in the Ukiah area. And are those 24/7?

Winter: We have two in Ukiah and one in Redwood Valley. They are all 24 hour ambulances. We don't do any 12 hour coverage.

McCowen: And your competitor is coming in and they are stationing ambulances in close proximity, three additional ambulances in close proximity to where you are?

Winter: I don't know how many ambulances or what they're going to do. I know that they have one now, they have taken one of their --

McCowen: I am getting into more detail than I need to. The point I'm trying to make is it looks like we are saturating the Ukiah area and the intent would seem to be to cream off business rather than to provide a higher level of service.

Winter: That's what I feel. They're going to take to the cream off the top and go home at night which they do already in their centrally located ambulance. It's my understanding that they took their 24-hour ambulance that was stationed at the Ukiah fire station and changed it to a 12 hour and got rid of that station; from the 24 to a 12 and got rid of that station.

McCowen: Thank you. I've got the information and I would expect the executive office would attempt to follow up on it.

* * *


(Photo by Susie de Castro)

* * *



Recall them all. Toss self-serving Allman too. Pass county ordinance pegging Supe’s salary to average wage earners take home. At $85,500 that’s $1644 a meeting and you know as well as I that all the rest is all emails. Okay, self-serving Raven picks up needles and empties after the homeless, but I’ll do it for fifty bucks and a fresh pair of gloves.


Re: Salaries

When I worked at Mendo college, pay raises were awarded differently to the groups of employees — management/confidential, classified, and instructors. After paying an outside "consultant," the college would begin a process of comparing its salaries with those of other community college districts. Management/confidential jobs were compared with the financially top 10 colleges in the state. The lowly classified jobs were compared with the poorest districts. The justification was that the college needed to enlist the cream of the crop for its management, and be able to lure people from all over. We classified were just cogs, and although we did actual, physical work, I was told that we were easily replaced, so no big deal in hiring. The amount of money spent on job brochures, committee meetings and interviews was mind boggling. It seemed the more time taken to hire someone, the quicker the negative reaction of the entire college to that person. I.e., a lot of very unimaginative folks were hired. Same as it ever was, the little guy gets the shaft.

SHARP-EYED READER saw this comment on the Ukiah Daily Journal's comment line from Adrian Fernandez Bauman, the monarchical young man of the easy over on-line paper, Mendocino Voice: "This may be an unpopular point, but these jobs need to be competitive. I know very competent and smart people who have skipped running for supe because it would mean a big pay cut and an interruption of their career. Leaving the pay low means that only rich people with other incomes will run and win."

ANYBODY who thinks that $61,000 plus perks plus a lifetime pension after only five years of service for what is essentially (in many instances) a part-time job is “low pay” for Mendocino County is already pretty damned well off in Mendocino County terms. Sure some of the supes work a lot of hours, but some of ’em don’t, and some spend a lot of the hours they do work “campaigning” by attending dinners, parades, ceremonies, etc. that they choose to go to. No wonder this guy's electronic paper ran through its pot funding so fast.

MARK SCARAMELLA NOTES: Every time the Supervisors’ pay comes up someone invariably claims that they know “very competent and smart people who have skipped running for supe because it would mean a big pay cut and an interruption of their career,” or an equivalently silly observation. They never, repeat NEVER, say who they’re talking about so that the rest of us can determine for ourselves how “competent and smart” the person they “know” is. They also never cite their own bonafides in being able to determine who’s “competent and smart,” the claimant, of course, being the self-alleged final arbiter of competency and smarts. And why would someone like Baumann not mention the names of those competent and smart “people they know”? After all, such a claim would be complimentary and hardly worth hiding. Could it be that mentioning the name would invite disagreement as to the competency and smarts of the “people” they “know” who might run if the pay was $200k a year or something? Seems to us that the higher the pay the more cautious and dependent the politician becomes on the source of their pay and, like Ross Liberty, is less likely to rock the boat and jeopardize their insiderness. Competence and smarts, obviously, have never been a factor in Mendocino County elections.

REGARDING the Supes' pay raise: None of these people were paupers prior to their elevation by small percentages of eligible voters. Hamburg's a trust funder who has made another untaxed fortune in the marijuana business; McCowen is a rentier; Gjerde comes from a comfortably well-off family, sparing him even the slightest acquaintance with the 8-5 grind as experienced by most Americans;; Brown's from the county's landed kulak class; Ms. Croskey, an interim appointee and the lamest of ducks, is a veterinarian married to a cop. None of these people, as is typical of elected persons at all levels of our alleged government, have ever lived with the wolf at the door, hence their blithe delusion that they are presently working very hard as public servants and should be compensated at a level far beyond the average annual pay of most working people in Mendocino County. It probably went unnoticed but the Supes want to peg annual raises to judge's salaries, making them automatic, and thus sparing them what they probably see as the indignity of giving themselves fat raises in view of the pesky public. The only recourse that pesky public has is to vote out incumbents.

A READER SAYS, "I don’t know about the others, but Carre Brown has lived with the wolf at the door.  The details, which I will avoid stating, are classic blue collar American.   Remember, also, she has no college degree, and there was no one there to pay for one, either. Her father had a gas station in Ukiah.   Her current husband was never monied, and depended on Carre to contribute her share.   Carre Brown is what a friend of mine would call a dirtter, someone who had to make it from the dirt. The other type is a spooner, someone who was born with a silver spoon in the mouth. Carre Brown is a great American story, and someone who should be an inspiration, particularly to women.   So, next time you see her, you need to tell her you have newfound admiration for her."

NICE LADY. Agreed. I disagree with her politically, and having lived with the wolf at the door isn't a reliable standard since lots of the ferally experienced grow up to out-wolf the biggest wolves there are, cf Andrew Carnegie and any number of tycoons who grew up hard. Generally speaking, though, wolf survivors are more likely to be better attuned to the welfare of the rest of the pack.

BRUCE McEWEN on the Supes: Ms. Angelo's comment about the "courage" of the board in voting for controversial projects has always seemed a bit rich, since they bring in consultants at exorbitant expense in order to spare themselves any liability which, to my mind, ought to be part and parcel with the responsibility of taking office -- were any consultants brought in on this courageous (if not audacious) vote to raise their salaries?

* * *

LAYTONVILLE'S PERPETUAL CANDIDATE, Pam Elizondo, announced on Tuesday that she plans to run for Third District Supervisor. Elizondo said she disagreed with any jail expansion, adding that, “99% of crime is non-violent,” a stat she seems to have plucked from mid-air or, perhaps, the little known Elizondo Statistical Research Center on Spy Rock.

The candidate, who has been running for various offices for forty years, suggested that people not be jailed but instead given marijuana processing jobs. “Government should not regulate the drugs we get to imbibe,”  Elizondo declared.

* * *


SUPERVISOR McCOWEN successfully pushed for the funding of a qualified County Museum curator some years ago, but the interim person in charge of the nearly invisible Willits facility, Alison Glassey, diverted funding to Russ and Sylvia Bartley of Fort Bragg, amateur historians who did whatever they did for several years and have since retreated to the Coast. Why Ms. Glassey took no steps to follow through on the hiring of a professional curator remains one of those only in Mendo minor crimes that went unpursued, although when it was belatedly discovered that the funding for the curator position had gone astray, Ms. Glassey was immediately packed off to retirement.

EVEN HERE in Amnesia County, where you are whatever you say you are and history starts all over again every morning, if we pay for a County museum why not run it properly, and promote it as the valuable archive of local history that it should be? A real pro might even link it to the history troves at the Held-Poage library and the Grace Hudson, both in Ukiah.

LAST WEEK, the DA was kind enough to take me on a tour of the labyrinthian County Courthouse, including its dusty, ghostly basement where court records all the way back to Mendocino County's sanguineous beginnings are haphazardly stored. The point of the tour was the DA's well thought-out and thoroughly convincing opinion that the present Courthouse can be re-tooled and modernized to become the showcase County centerpiece it once was prior to World War Two for much less than the new Courthouse the judges are pushing for. We agreed that the records should be digitized, scanned for public availability. Scanning technology is radically better all the time, and these records, especially the beautifully handwritten trial summaries rendered wayyyyy prior to typewriters are all a crucial part of the County's history. They've got to be preserved before they crumble into dust.

PERHAPS the most tragic loss in the infamous Fort Bragg Fires of 1987, apart from the highly suspicious death of Kenneth Ricks just before the young man was scheduled to appear before a federal grand jury in San Francisco, was the loss of both the Ten Mile Justice Court's archive and the old Fort Bragg Library's collection of historical documents, old history books and artifacts. The perps, although known, were never prosecuted. The full story can be found at

DAWN BROKE this morning (Tuesday) in spectacular shades of red, heralding the predicted light rain that had not fallen as the sun sank much less spectacularly hours later over the west ridges. About 8am, a Yellow Cab inscribed “Fairfield” drove slowly through town, a to-and-from trip likely to run the passenger somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 bucks. The next vehicle of note was Gary Huntington's white PT Cruiser, a festive mini-Santa fixed to the hood.

PEBBLES TRIPPET, the Swami from Laytonville and various other stoner luminaries, appeared on NBC Television (channel 11), Sunday, December 17th. If you were so loaded you forgot date and time, fear not, the film, by popular demand, appears again on Sunday, Dec 31. Produced by Emmy-recognized Christine Ni, the show appears as "Bay Area Revelations: Cannabis Rush series."

* * *

LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I'm not the best looking little dog you'll see, but that giant galumph they'd got up for adoption over at the Shelter makes me look like Lassie!”

* * *


Fort Bragg's "Extreme Weather Shelter" will FINALLY open tonight — it was supposed to open last November 15th, but thanks to a last-minute "business decision" by the Hospitality House NOT to run it (they ran the shelter for 11 years), the opening was delayed.

Many say Hospitality House was "butt-hurt" for being called out on code violations by the city, thus the "business decision" not to run the shelter. Most likely, it was because they wanted $137,000 from the county to run the shelter but received only $50,000.

The last-minute turnaround then forced a series of meetings with the city that prolonged the opening of the shelter. The ONLY thing that needed to be changed was the location of the pickup of the homeless to go to the "rotating" shelters as one condition the city imposed was they could no longer gather at the Hospitality House itself. Now the homeless will meet at the Food Bank to be brought to the faith-based shelters.

At any rate, Fort Bragg homeless had to suffer through temps in the 30's & a couple rainy nights in November & December thanks to Hospitality Houses indecision. Not that they really care.

This was the announcement posted on social media today:

"The Extreme Weather Shelter will be open tonight.

Check-in for van transport to the shelter will be at the Fort Bragg Food Bank 910 N. Franklin between 5:30-6:00. Guests need to have registered for the 2017-18 winter season at the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center at 101 N. Franklin, Fort Bragg prior to coming into the overnight shelter. The Center is open 9:00-3:00 M-F. One Center check-in is good for the entire winter."

On social media, people asked how they can help out with the shelter, an email to Susan Kelly, the administrator of the shelter brought back a response:"We've been busy preparing for opening and I don't have a volunteer process set up yet."

Remember, this is the TWELVETH year the Hospitality House been running the shelter. And many say with the delayed opening, and the homeless having to fend for themselves for the past 34 days WITHOUT a shelter, they pretty much can survive the elements without utilizing the "emergency" shelter.

Indeed, there have been 9 (NINE) days of precipitation in Fort Bragg as well as several other nights when the temperatures went below the 40F threshold to open the shelter while Hospitality House was hemming & hawing about running this year's shelter:

  1. 11/15/2017 — 0.08"
  2. 11/16/2017 — 0.79"
  3. 11/17/2017 — 0.30"
  4. 11/20/2017 — 0.30"
  5. 11/21/2017 — 0.63"
  6. 11/24/2017 — 0.13"
  7. 11/26/2017 — 0.60"
  8. 11/27/2017 — 1.00"
  9. 12/03/2017 — 0.31"

(Courtesy, MendocinoSportsPlus)

* * *


by Anne Fashauer

Merry Christmas if you’re celebrating and if not, then just lots of good cheer in your direction! We are celebrating at my home. We are having a Christmas Eve breakfast at our home with my family then driving to Cottonwood to celebrate the actual day with Van’s family. In our 8 years together this will be the first time we have been able to get together with them. We have often had his children with us, but last year his daughter and son-in-law decided they aren’t celebrating anymore and this year his son is going to visit his other grandparents with his mother. With Christmas on a Monday we have a couple of days that we can spare to visit with Van’s parents. It works because Van’s tasting room is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and my office will be painted that week.

It seems we might have a little rain between now and then and maybe some on Christmas day itself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like it will be much. Of course, I have been enjoying the balmy days, once the chill of the early mornings goes away. It’s been impossible to stay inside for too long.

We decorated our tree on Sunday and the house is looking festive. The shopping is done but the gifts have yet to be wrapped. I had a lot of fun shopping this year for some reason; some online, which makes it easier and some local. We’re talking about what to have for breakfast, but I’m thinking that waffles, cinnamon buns and French toast plus eggs and bacon and some mimosas sounds pretty good! Of course, after that I’ll likely want a nap, not a four hour drive to Cottonwood.

I hope you are able to enjoy the next few weeks whatever you may be up to. The weather is gorgeous, we live in a beautiful place with a terrific community. Merry Christmas and peace to all.

* * *

* * *


Petit Teton Monthly Farm Report — November 2017

Happy holidays one and all.

Several days ago we brought home a one year old rescue dog for our holiday and birthday present. And what a present he is...a very handsome, sweet and energetic German Shepard mix who desperately wants attention and needs training.

In the past couple of days he's proved himself to be smart and attentive, sitting when required, stopping when requested and sometimes actually walking with us instead of dragging us. Once we teach him to stop jumping, we'll turn him over to ChiChi, now 10 yrs old, to do the farm dog training. They appear to like each other and Pito seems to be appropriately deferential to her seniority but we won't really know until they're loose together. We have our fingers crossed.

We do love our animals and each has a distinct personality with attendant wants and needs. The goal for those that we raise for meat (apologies to those of you who are vegetarians) is to give them the best life we can during their time on the farm. The piglets we buy from our neighboring Zeni Ranch are about 25lbs when we pick them up and in only six months are near the ideal weight of 300 pounds.

Pure white King pigeons mate for life, can live 15-20 years, and spend their days preening, eating, mating and laying eggs. They are lovely to watch and their cooing is a pleasure to listen to. Each couple regularly produces one or two chicks which we process at about six weeks — just before they fly — and sell as squab.

Our 120 chickens of mixed heritage breeds, live in separate large areas in groups of 20 birds including one rooster. The rooster keeps order, warns of danger and keeps the girls happy. He can also be beautiful. Their crowing doesn't bother us and fertile eggs are healthier because cholesterol goes down at fertilization. Hens, like humans, are born with a set number of eggs, and since we never use lights to force egg laying the hens' laying life is 2 years or more at which time we process them and sell them for stewing chicken. The taste and texture of a chicken/rooster that has "had a life" is significantly different from a store bought "corporate" one.

We sell Angus cows raised both by us and our neighbor at 3M Ranch who grazes his cattle on our property in the spring. We buy a calf from him every year, but it takes a year and a half to grow to slaughter weight so we also buy full grown cows from him regularly. They are all raised on grass without supplements or antibiotics.

Wynne, Nikki's son who lives on the farm with his wife and the two grand kids, is breeding rabbits with his younger daughter so we will be selling rabbit soon. Their breeding habits are like those of the pigeons, but they definitely don't choose a mate for life and they produce live and larger litters. We will be making a French rabbit stew for our holiday dinner.

Our adult yaks usually produce a baby once a year but so far we haven't butchered any of them since they sell well alive. We gelded one male for meat but discovered that, thanks to the industrial cattle industry, they are labeled "exotics" requiring a special permit to USDA process them. Most slaughter and butcher shops don't have the permit and we cannot legally sell non-USDA meat at markets.

Our best wishes to you for happy holidays. Forget the politics for a moment and have fun.

— Nikki Aushnitt and Steve Kreig, Petit Teton Farm, Yorkville

* * *

“Do you think they’re onto us?”

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, December 19, 2017

Bankson, Bonson, Jewell, Larsen

MITZI BANKSON, Laytonville. DUI.

TRAVIS BONSON, Willits. Parole violation.

AMANDA JEWELL, Willits. Petty theft, probation revocation.

JONATHAN LARSEN, Crescent City/Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, failure to appear, probation revocation.

Petitt, Reeser, Wirt, Yeomans

PENNY PETTIT, Ukiah. (Booked December 10, 2017; charges never posted.)


CODY WIRT, Fort Bragg. Elder abuse, criminal threats, vandalism, probation revocation.

DANIEL YEOMANS, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

* * *

FOR A FULLER PICTURE I recommend reading Gabriel Sherman’s excellent reporting on Ailes and the culture of Fox alongside Carlson’s book. It’s from Sherman we learn that Carlson secretly recorded her meetings with Ailes on her phone for a year and a half — including his remark that the two of them should have had sex long ago to resolve their differences, spoken sometime before she was fired (after an eleven-year stint as a newscaster) and sometime after she lodged complaints about the climate of sexism at Fox, for which Ailes labeled her a “man hater” and demoted her. After news of the lawsuit broke, thousands of women in every sort of occupation — waitresses, Wall Street bankers, oil rig operators — wrote to Carlson about their own experiences, and most of her book is devoted to their stories. None of the news is good. Harassment of every sort is rampant in every industry, ranging from explicit quid pro quos to nonstop entreaties for dates or sex, to egregious sexual hazing of women in nontraditionally female occupations like cop or soldier. The less job security you have, the worse it is; fast food workers are especially vulnerable.

— Laura Kipnis

* * *

“IT’S ALWAYS PAINFUL to learn the truth about Santa.”

* * *

A WEEK AGO, the local weekly, The Ojai Valley News, emblazoned its front page with the banner headline, “Ring of Fire,” a phrase that had been in local circulation for several days previously as residents watched the flames encircle their communities on their seemingly inevitable way to the coast.

Many of us who have reached a certain age cannot hear that phrase without hearing, in our mind’s ear, the thudding voice of Johnny Cash running through his sister-in-law’s honky-tonk ditty of 1963. His earnest rendition has become a cultural touchstone: now, in central coast California and its inland valleys, it has become entwined with the epic events of December 2017 when much of the landscape that lies to the south of the Santa Ynez transverse mountain range was charred in the ring of fire that girdled the Ojai Valley; as it continues to burn to the north and west, it has already destroyed over a thousand structures – the surrounding chaparral blackened, somber, and pungent with congealed super-heated resins.

Cash had a great deal of history in the area. He recorded the song Ring of Fire in a small Ojai recording studio while living in Casitas Springs, the western-most community in the Valley. The town now proclaims itself as “The Home of Johnny Cash” and the trailer park he purchased for relatives to manage still stands forlorn in an area whose center is anchored by a convenience store, nameless but for the red neon sign over its door that reads ‘Bait and Liquor’.

In the aftermath of the fire running through areas of Upper Ojai there were several instances of looting of evacuated and damaged houses. I witnessed the arrest of a suspected looter on my street. Three Ventura County Sheriff’s black and white SUV’s were pulled up behind a beige Chevy Suburban bulging with boxes of household goods and clothing. Two bicycles were thrown haphazardly on the roof rack. A deputy knelt at the curb carefully probing one box of civilizational detritus at a time. The cuffed suspect was standing by his vehicle, his female companion still in the front passenger seat. I pulled up and my enquiring gaze was met with an explanation from one of the sheriff’s deputies that they were patrolling the streets around the burn area apprehending looters and other ‘undesirables’. I drove off, that last word etched in my consciousness.

Some years after Cash recorded Ring of Fire he went to Folsom prison, actively consorted with the state’s undesirables, then entertained and demonstrated solidarity with them. He revived his fading career by adopting an outlaw image as ‘The Man in Black’. He understood the plight of all those who refused to be totally coopted by the rules-making capitalist imperium. Perhaps, as a profoundly Christian man, he foresaw a day, in an epoch we now call the Anthropocene, when the ‘undesirables’ (in the neo-liberal lexicon, but one step away from the non-human), would inherit the Earth.

— John Davis, Ring of Fire

* * *



I was shocked to read of the role of Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, in crafting the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act and its inclusion in the GOP Tax bill under pressure from the wine industry lobby and in collusion with our Republican lawmakers.

Does Thompson really think that the Wine and Beer industry in Sonoma County needs a significant tax break? It seems to be doing quite well in recent years.

Does Thompson really believe the Republican myth that the savings from this tax reduction will voluntarily be spent on creating new jobs on Sonoma County? Is this tax break, which is really not just for small craft brewers — Lagunitas is no longer a small craft brewer — really worth the long-term consequence of placing the federal government in debt and placing the social safety net at risk?

I am wondering if Thompson is a closet Republican.

Scott Sullender


ED NOTE: Wonder no more. He always has been an industry gofer, and owns vineyard property himself so this particular giveaway benefits him personally.

* * *


The great recession of 2008 was set off by the sudden collapse of sky-high prices for housing and other things. Now yet again we have sky high housing, only the collapse part is missing. My own doghouse has gone up 25% in only two years. With another place to live we could cash out, but everything else close goes up too. I’ll have to be content with being a paper millionaire.

There is a widespread feeling here that housing prices will never fall and that is nonsense and a feeling of permanent good times inflates a new Seattle housing bubble. More and more people watching what others do, caught up in intoxicating exuberance, make ever more and more horrible buying decisions. Three bedrooms two baths on less than a quarter acre will now run you over $750,000 anywhere in our area. Misery will be the harvest of their bad decisions when our current game of musical chair house buying stops.

I hope the stock market crash will only take out matching funds in my 401K. I have a generous employer who matches contributions at 50%. It would be nice to hang on to what was mine originally when the hammer drops but it probably won’t happen. I’d have no money in the market at all but with a 50% match it is hard to stay away.

* * *

WIND RIVER CANYON, Wyoming, Late October (photo by Harvey Reading)

(Click to enlarge)

* * *


Seeking PT Sales Assistant

We are recruiting for a salesperson to work in our gift shop at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.

Hours: Part-time, hourly. Maximum 24 hours a week.

Basic qualifications: Must have excellent people skills and be comfortable with sales transactions. Experience with point-of-sale preferred.

Please email resume to:

* * *


On December 20, the Mendocino County Fire Recovery Team will hold a community meeting to support fire survivors impacted by the Redwood Complex Fire. After general updates, the Mendocino County Long Term Recovery Committee will discuss strategies for long term recovery. The meeting will also highlight resources available for fire survivors including the Disaster Fund managed by the Community Foundation of Mendocino County, crisis counseling by Redwood Community Services and the Mendocino County Fire Survivor Resource room. Following the updates and community questions, refreshments and NCO Holiday Gift Bags will be distributed to fire survivors.

When: Wednesday, December 20, 2017 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Where: Eagle Peak Middle School Cafeteria, 8601 West Rd, Redwood Valley CA 95470


  • Mendocino County Fire Recovery Team
  • Mendocino County Long Term Recovery Committee
  • Community Foundation of Mendocino County
  • Redwood Community Services
  • North Coast Opportunities Inc. (NCO)
  • CalOES
  • FEMA
  • US EPA

Live Online: This media briefing will be streamed live on the Mendocino County Facebook page and YouTube Channel.

Residents can submit question in advance at For more information please contact the Executive Office at (707) 463-4441.

* * *


The Senate Intelligence Committee's Russia probe took a new turn Monday as it was revealed the panel has requested documents from Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein.

Stein's former communications director Dennis Trainor Jr. told Buzzfeed the Senate panel had reached out to her with the request, BuzzFeed reported.

Stein's failed presidential campaign got just over a million votes, although her total did exceed President Trump's margin in key battlegrounds Wisconsin and Michigan.

She also turned up in one of the most mysterious events and enduring images of the Russia story – attending a 2015 dinner in Moscow that fired White House national security director Mike Flynn also attended.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has been asked to turn over documents to the Senate Intelligence Committee

Flynn, who has plead guilty to lying to the FBI, was paid $45,000 to attend the event honoring the anniversary of Russian TV outlet RT, and was seated next to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Stein was seated at the other side of the table, next to Putin confidante and spokesman Dmitri Peskov.

Stein downplayed her appearance at the dinner, discounting 'the mythology that this was an intimate dinner' in an interview with the Intercept.

She said she didn't know Putin or Flynn would be at the table, and that she didn't get paid.

* * *


by Jamie Jones

[Verse 1]

Mr. stick head politician

I got some news for you

If you want to come and

Try to take my gun

Well you better be bulletproof

And don't try to tell my children

When and where to pray

No, we ain't that far gone

We're still standing on

The land of the free

And the home of the brave

No, I'm not your normal political society

This is coming from real America, son

And pissed off rednecks like me

[Verse 2]

Hell No, I won't push one for English

I just as soon hang up the phone

If you wanna serve in a Muslim church

Go and take your ass back home

Take yourself to work if you're able

Instead of living off our dime

This 'give me a hand out' generation

Is gonna bleed this country dry

Yeah, I think it's time that we change your policy

This is coming from real America, son

And pissed off rednecks like me


As for most of us

It's still in God we trust

Here on this hollow ground

Get up and give thanks in the morning

And we work till the sun goes down

Things have got to change

We can't sit back idly

This is coming from real America, son

And pissed off rednecks like me

[Verse 3]

Old folks say they can't afford medication

This damn Obamacare is a joke

If it will help you with your sickness

I say fire it up and take a toke

We need to lock down all the borders

Throw away the key

And let's help our own right here at home

And stop sending it overseas

But right now raise your glasses

If you agree


This is coming from real America, son

And pissed off rednecks like me

This is coming from real America, son

And pissed off rednecks like me

* * *


Following my unbelievable reception of a threatening letter from the State of California Franchise Tax Board on December 15th, demanding that I pay taxes on income which never happened, (which was calculated by the state, because in a previous year I did have significant income, and therefore it was mis-assumed that I also had significant income the next year), I complained both to the accountant who helped me file and pay in full my tax obligation of the previous year, and I also complained to Mechanics Bank where I have my money deposited. Incredibly, over the past two years the accountant informed the state at least three times that I did not owe any further taxes. The bank said that if my account is levied, that they would cooperate with the state plus charge me $100! And, the bank emailed me December 19th to say that even though this is all absurd, I needed to continue working with the accountant to resolve the matter. Aside from the fact that this is crazy, there is an enormous social issue here, appropriately at a time of tax reform being voted on in Washington D.C. Obviously, a federal investigation into the practices of all 50 state franchise tax boards is needed. Refunds must be given to anybody who sent in money which was not legally owed, as a result of being harassed by state franchise tax boards. The State of California Franchise Tax Board has been sending me their bogus notices for two years. The threatening letter which suggested that they could "attach deposit bank accounts", as well as a list of other possible actions, included 1. the original tax amount, 2. interest fees, 3. penalty fees, and 4. a collection fee. Again, I did not in fact have income for the year 2015, and therefore the tax bill that was sent to me is ridiculous, a fact which the accountant has explained to the state at least three times. You might consider forming an affinity group with your friends, and strategizing for effective direct action, to begin the slow process of having money refunded to American citizens by the state franchise tax boards who inappropriately collected it in the first place.


Craig Louis Stehr
San Francisco



  1. james marmon December 20, 2017

    RE: Carre Brown and wolves being at her door.

    I don’t think too many wolves would be visiting Ms. Brown’s door, Lew Brown, her husband wouldn’t put up with that, at 69 years old he is still quite muscular and a hard worker tending to his family’s farm in Potter Valley. The Brown family have been taking care of themselves for a long time, believe me. They were hardly poor.

    Ms. Brown’s friend who commented above needs to get her facts right. It was Webb Brown, Lew’s father who owned the gas station, and who became a very prominent figure in Mendo land for many many years. Carre is still riding Webb’s shirttails. She married good.

    Webb Brown.

    “In his long career Brown was owner of a gas station, he then spent several years in the dairy business and in 1955 through 1977 he was elected and served as the Mendocino County Assessor. As President of the California Assessors Association from 1963 -64 he was responsible for 12 major bills dealing with tax assessment. His many public services included several terms on Mendocino Air Management District Board, and as a member of the Ukiah Unified School Board as well as serving as a Potter Valley School Board Member. He was Chairman of the Save the College Committee for Mendocino College and was named Distinguished Citizen by the college for his support in establishing the college and helping it move to its current location.”

  2. George Hollister December 20, 2017

    John Davis, Ring of Fire

    “Perhaps, as a profoundly Christian man, he foresaw a day, in an epoch we now call the Anthropocene, when the ‘undesirables’ (in the neo-liberal lexicon, but one step away from the non-human), would inherit the Earth.”

    It is my conclusion that we all have our day. Look at the people who settled the American West. Read the history of Covelo. Beyond our shores, look at who settled Australia. Undesirables, indeed. That gene type is mostly out of favor now, but they remain in the wings.

    • Harvey Reading December 20, 2017

      “Gene type”? Gimme a break.

      • George Hollister December 20, 2017

        I am a firm believer that judgments based on genes is ill advised, and should never be considered except in the cases of debilitating genetic diseases. That said, I consistently see family traits that effect behavior. Some is learned, and influenced by culture and parenting. Some is not. How the two work, I don’t know, and no one else does either, or ever will.

        • Harvey Reading December 20, 2017

          Bawl on, George. Come clean with us, sweetie, and admit you’re a eugenics fan, as indicated by your original comment, misinformed and full of bombastic wishful thinking as it is.

          Just what is a “gene type” anyway?

          Your last sentence is just another example of your pretending to be far more intelligent and knowledgeable than you really are. How is it that you can even pretend to have the knowledge or insight to make such statements? Unless I saw your college degree, I could never believe that you are a graduate of UC, Berkeley, or any other 4-year college or university for that matter. In fact, without documentation, I cannot believe much of anything you say. I have listened to far too many right-wingers lie to me, for far too many years to even consider the tripe that you choose to peddle.

  3. james marmon December 20, 2017

    Donald J. Trump‏ Verified account
    1 hour ago

    “The Tax Cuts are so large and so meaningful, and yet the Fake News is working overtime to follow the lead of their friends, the defeated Dems, and only demean. This is truly a case where the results will speak for themselves, starting very soon. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!”

    • james marmon December 20, 2017

      the whole plan’s success depends on more working taxpayers paying taxes and fewer deadbeats (e.g. Camille Schraeder) sucking the life out of the middle class, next, infrastructure, immigration and welfare reform. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs will transform into better mental health for all.

      -James Marmon MSW

    • Harvey Reading December 20, 2017

      LOL, James.

  4. Harvey Reading December 20, 2017


    Satire or “local color” squatting on public land?

  5. Harvey Reading December 20, 2017

    “In biology, it’s called a symbiotic relationship.”


    “We were shown color pictures taken somewhere else demonstrating how nice it is to be in Fort Bragg.”

    Is the Surf Motel still in business? Years ago, it was a nice, quiet, comfortable, and reasonably priced place to stay. But I’m talking about the early 90s.

  6. Harvey Reading December 20, 2017

    Thank you, Laura Kipnis.

  7. Harvey Reading December 20, 2017


    Don’t forget the hidden inflation brought on by manufacturers selling smaller quantities for the same, or higher, prices for items regularly purchased at retail outlets. The four-pound bag of sugar, smaller quantities of toilet paper per roll, the “half-gallon” of ice cream that is short by a cup or so, etc. It all adds up.

    • Harvey Reading December 20, 2017

      The nut cases are running the asylum and have been since Reagan was elected chief moron. Well, not “running” it exactly, except into the ground, but thinking they are.

  8. Jim Updegraff December 20, 2017

    That fat slob we have for President certainly feathered his nest for himself and Congressmen like Corker and Ryan who have commercial property investments covered by the sneak in the bill of an amendment on cash carryback. El Trumpo the Village Idiot lied when he said the bill would cost him money.

    As for any California Republican House member who voted for this bill they should be stripped of their clothes, tarred and feathered and driven out of town riding backwards on a donkey.

    This “voodoo economics” was a failure under Reagan and will be another failure under Trump.

  9. Jim Updegraff December 20, 2017

    Looks like Stein went into the tank for Trump. Wonder what the pay off was?

    • Harvey Reading December 20, 2017

      I have a feeling that this so-called investigation of Mueller’s is gonna blow up in the faces of all concerned, from BOTH wings of the wealth party, including Mueller himself. It should be entertaining, and so far it has been, as people swallow whole whatever our propagandists and lying representatives at all levels of government peddle to them.

      Turn off the nooze and start thinking, for yourselves, folks. That’s what brains are for. Most of those you listen to electronically or read in print are no smarter than you are, and, unlike you, they are paid to lie.

  10. John Kriege December 20, 2017

    Re: Branding Fort Bragg,
    My problem is that the new TOT bed taxes (amounting to around $400,000 a year) are being spent not on efforts to give visitors more reasons to come, but on advertising to tell people they should come. Dave Turner in particular feels the Council should follow the funding breakdown in Measure AB, even though this measure was prepared at the direction of the former City Council, and is “to be non-binding and advisory.” So the Council has discretion to re-prioritize these funds away from advertising to real attractions for tourism.

  11. Harvey Reading December 20, 2017

    Text of an email from Jill Stein, received this evening:

    “By now you’ve likely heard that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has requested documents from our campaign relevant to their investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    At least that’s what they told us. But when they talked to the press, the charge had escalated to investigating our campaign for “collusion with the Russians”.

    We are cooperating with the committee, but we weren’t born yesterday. While interference in our elections is something we take seriously, sensationalism, politicizing and ulterior motives tarnish the process and pose a serious threat. The investigation must not be allowed to become a tool for intimidating and silencing political opposition to the two corporate political parties.

    This investigation – which Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Glenn Greenwald likened to the dark days of McCarthyism – is happening in the context of a bipartisan campaign to control information, criminalize dissent, and silence principled opposition to the political establishment.

    Please join me tonight at 8:30pm Eastern time for a live conversation on our Facebook page about the Russia investigation and how we can defend our rights from the bipartisan crackdown on democracy.

    If you haven’t yet seen our statement on the investigation, please read it on our website, Facebook page or Twitter account.

    Thank you to everyone who has offered support in this galvanizing moment.

    Stay strong, keep fighting for people, planet and peace over profit, and I hope to talk to you tonight!

    Jill Stein”

    The time is now ripe, overripe, in fact, for the rise of a party that truly represents us common people. If the Greens won’t do it, then we must start organizing and stop compromising with the status-quo which is two wealth-supporting right wings of the wealth party, with their Clintons and their Trumps. They despise us. It truly is “now, or never”.

  12. Eric Sunswheat December 20, 2017

    An eight-month investigation by Slate found the major Gardasil trials were flawed from the outset, however, and that regulators allowed unreliable methods to be used to test the vaccine’s safety. While these flaws do not mean Gardasil caused the rare crippling illnesses reported by the media, they are troubling. Public health officials use trials like these both to determine safety and, as evidenced by Merck’s statement above, to reassure the public when concerns like the ones about Gardasil arise. A flawed study design can complicate both tasks.
    Interviews with five study participants and more than 2,300 pages of documents obtained through freedom-of-information requests from hospitals and health authorities suggest inadequacies built into Merck’s major clinical tests of Gardasil. To track the safety of its product, the drugmaker used a convoluted method that made objective evaluation and reporting of potential side effects impossible during all but a few weeks of its yearslong trials. At all other times, individual trial investigators used their personal judgment to decide whether or not to report any medical problem as an adverse event—essentially, as a potential side effect worth evaluating further. Other health issues went on a worksheet for “new medical history,” reserved for conditions that bore no relation to the vaccine. This study design put the cart before the horse, asking investigators to decide which symptoms might be side effects, rather than tracking everything in the same way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *