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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017

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This alert is for PG&E customers who opted out of "smart" meters.

For those of us who paid to stick with our old vintage meters, PG&E now sends meter readers out every other month. That's six reads per year. For the other six months, in between reads, PG&E "estimates" usage. Then, the next month, everything sort of gets caught up with the actual read. But there's a catch...

If PG&E estimates too high for the unread month, it can push some of that month's "estimated usage" into higher-priced tiers, making for a more expensive month. Then, the following month, when the actual read (the total for the past two months) turns out to be much less than "estimated," usage that month will be slight, perhaps all within the baseline rate, and the bill for that particular month will be much smaller.

The cheat is: PG&E does not reconcile the upper-tier overcharging that resulted from their high estimate the first month. They just quietly keep your money.

And the beauty of this ripoff is it also works the other way; that is, if they under-estimate the first month's usage (let's say all of it at baseline rate) that bill will be small. But the next month, when the actual read is made, your "usage" will be much higher (because you are now catching up from the under-estimate) and, once again, you get unfairly pushed into higher-tiered rates.

I discovered this swindle after noticing the seesawing of our bill totals. I looked more closely at our past four bills and discovered both versions of the ripoff (low/high and high/low). Our actual usage for those four months should have all been at the baseline rate. We used a total of 1135 kWh (kilowatt hours) over that stretch, and baseline allowance was 1255 kWh. We used 120 kWh less than the baseline allowance. But because of this dishonest accounting trick, PG&E managed to push 168 of our baseline kWh into their higher "Tier 2" rate.

When I called PG&E to ask about it, they said, Yes, I was correct, but there was nothing they could do about it. I asked to speak with a supervisor and she said the same thing. I asked her to submit my request for restitution to their billing department, which she agreed to do, while also assuring me (with a hint of amused delight in her voice) that "they would do nothing about it." I asked to hear back from someone (after this decision to do nothing was made) and was told it would take about ten days.

So, if you are a PG&E customer, and you opted out of a SmartMeter, and you've noticed a fluctuation in your month-to-month energy bills, I encourage you to take a closer look and see if they are pulling the same stunt on you. If so, call them (1-866-743-0335) and demand restitution. If enough of us do that, they might figure out a way to do something about it.

(Mike Kalantarian)

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ON SATURDAY, Dec. 30, 2017, at about 9:45am, driver Alexandria Kathain, 20, of Castro Valley, and her passenger Rick Baker, 23, of Hayward, were traveling north through a curve on Highway 1 just north of Elk at about 25mph when Ms. Kathain lost control of their 2003 Land Rover due to wet roadway conditions. The vehicle rolled an unknown number of times before coming to rest on its roof on the east shoulder of Highway 1. Ms. Kathain was wearing her seatbelt but still sustained what were described as major injuries and was taken to Coast Hospital in Fort Bragg. Mr. Baker, also using a seatbelt, also sustained major injuries and was taken by air ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. Alcohol/drugs were not suspected. Their condition was unknown as of Saturday afternoon.

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Skrag asked me what I got for Christmas, but before I could answer he says, ‘Not that I care.’ I never even heard of a cat as insolent as this deadbeat!”

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THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS this Tuesday will solidify the huge pay raises they voted to give themselves for their unimpressive, part-time "work" as elected officials. They'll begin the new year at $85.5k, up from $61.2k. It will be interesting to see what kind of commentary they get during public expression. We predict none, such is demoralization of citizens now long accustomed to being ripped off by government. Torches and pitchforks are called for, and that's where this kind of gross exploitation at all levels of government is headed, but for now the Pathetic Five will make more than twice what the everyday Mendo employee makes. They are led around by their insensate noses by County CEO Carmel Angelo, who of course jacked up her own compensation as she commended the Supes' "courage" for granting the latest round of raises. The irony here is that Angelo and her five captives have screwed up almost everything they've touched, and no more deserve increased compensation than Trump does.

SO FAR, although the media and internet comment lines are unanimously opposed, no one has gone on record in a Board meeting with any opposition to the proposal, while the Board, the Sheriff, and possible Supes candidate Ross Liberty are on record agreeing with Board Chair John McCowen that the $24.3k raise (plus unspecified pension and benefit increases) are “easy to justify.”

THREE SUPERVISORS managed to heap insult on the pay raise injury done to the people of Mendocino County. Hamburg, Brown and Croskey are leaving. Hamburg and Brown to retirement, Croskey, an appointee in the first place, is leaving the state. Why she voted on policies that will negatively affect Mendocino County when she's long gone is, and not to be too moralistic about it, a measure of her ethical sense. Hamburg and Brown have merely sweetened their retirement packages.

THE BLAND TEXT of the pay increase proposal:

"Discussion and Possible Action including Introduction and Waive Reading of an Ordinance Amending Section 3.04-071 of the Mendocino County Code Chapter 3.04 - Personnel and Salary, Setting the Board of Supervisors Compensation for Services Yearly Base Salary of $85,500 Sponsor: Executive Office)"

THE SUPES, as they rake in their totally undeserved, self-approved raises, will magnanimously allow porta-potties for “certain operations engaged in the seasonal commercial cultivation or processing of plants,” aka pot growers. The County's pot rules are preposterously complicated, so complicated and expensive for smaller growers that only the largest outside, heavily capitalized pot businesses can afford them. Pot growers have long complained about the requirement for a disabled access septic system for their greenhouses. As for the rest of the ridiculous over-regulation of pot growers, our $84.5k per year Supes have no other pot-related proposals on the agenda.

The full text of the summary is:

"An Ordinance Of The Mendocino County Board Of Supervisors Amending Section 16.08.015 Of Chapter 16.08 – On-Site Sewage Systems

This ordinance amends Section 16.08.015 of Chapter 16.08 of the Mendocino County Code, regarding on-site sewage systems. This section currently requires that all structures from which or in which domestic waste may be generated to be connected to an approved septic system. The proposed amendment would create an exception for certain operations engaged in the seasonal commercial cultivation or processing of plants from the requirement to construct bathrooms connected to an approved septic system. Such operations can either (1) rely on a nearby bathroom with either a path of travel connecting the operation to the bathroom or the construction of an arrival space at both the operation and the bathroom, or (2) use a portable chemical toilet and handwashing station under specific requirements."

LOOKING BACK over some quotable quotes from last year we found this one, from Supervisor John McCowen on the County’s new pot permitting process, which is a candidate for several less-than complimentary year-end awards:

“I completely understand the frustration level that people [pot growers with pending permit applications] are experiencing, and they’re not alone. It’s been, I think, a very frustrating experience for staff and for the Board of Supervisors."

What award should that get? False Sympathy? Best Reason Not To Give Yourself A Big Pay Raise? Stewing In Your Own Juice?

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by Bruce McEwen

At The Office of the Public Defender

  • Mary LeClair will become the new Public Defender.
  • Anthony Adams will be the new Assistant Public Defender.
  • Eric Rennert will be murdered by his client Caleb Silver.
  • Linda Thompson, after a few weeks of retirement, will demand her old job back.

At The DA’s Office

  • David Eyster will run for a third term.
  • ADA Rick Welsh will get dumped by his Orange County wife.
  • DDA Luke Oakley will marry a gunslinger named Annie.
  • DDA Scott McMenomey will retire to a farm.
  • DDA Tim Stoen will surprise everyone by living 20 more years.

Predictions for the Bench

  • The Hon. Keith Faulder will remain in Department A with the misdemeanor calendar.
  • The Hon. Cindee Mayfield will handle the secondary felonies in Department B.
  • The Hon. Ann Moorman will serve as Presiding Judge in Department G.
  • The Hon. Carly Dolan will go to Family Court due to the many former clients she would encounter in the criminal courts.
  • The Hon. John Behnke will soldier on in Department H with the main felony calendar
  • The Hon. Leonard La Casse (ret.) will catch a trophy trout in the Eel River.

At The Office of the Alternate Public Defender

  • Alt. Public Defender Patricia Littlefield will retire.
  • Asst. Alt. P.D. Doug Rhoades will retire.
  • Deputy Alt. P.D. Jan Cole-Wilson will retire.
  • Deputy Alt. P.D. Lewis Finch will get a DUI.

Predictions for the local Defense Bar

  • Atty. Justin Petersen will become as famously fearsome as Gerry Spence.
  • Atty. Al Kubanis will retire.

Predictions for the Jail Staff

  • Zohar Zaied will become the 1st Jewish Sergeant in Mendo History.
  • Jailhouse subscriptions to the AVA will be slapped with a prohibitive luxury tax to defray the Sheriff’s pay raise.
  • Despite deteriorating conditions at the jail, it will stay safer than the streets of Ukiah.

Predictions for the Courthouse Staff

  • The floggings will continue until morale improves.
  • The essential court-certified Spanish language interpreter, Mr. Tim Baird, will work increasingly longer shifts for less pay.
  • The gate guards will come under the direction of a new contractor.
  • A tremendous earthquake will send an avalanche of splintered glass down the main steps on April 1st at precisely 8:47am.

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Rosie is a 2 year old, spayed, cat with luxurious fur. Rosie is calm and easy going, and she loves to get in laps for scratches and  affection. If you want a relaxed companion to kick back and cuddle with after a hard day’s work, Rosie's the cat for you.  Dodger was timid when he first found himself at the shelter. He's gained confidence, and proven to be a lovely, calm and sweet dog.

Dodger is 2 years old, neutered, and a mixed breed dog who was surrendered because he did not get along with the neighbor's dog. Because of this, dogs in Dodger's new home should be introduced prior to his adoption. His past guardian said, "He is loyal, knows sit, gets along with all age people in the family."

The Ukiah Animal Shelter is located at 298 Plant Road in Ukiah; adoption hours are Tuesday - Saturday 10 am to 4:30 pm and Wednesday till 6:30 pm. To view photos and bios of our adoptable dogs and cats, please us visit online at or visit the shelter. Join us the 2nd  Saturday of every month for our "Empty the Shelter" pack walk and help us get every dog out for some exercise!  For more information about adoptions please call 707-467-6453.

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Gray State, NetFlicks documentary overseen by Werner Herzog about a young Army veteran who hopes to cash in on his film about, uh, kinda, how the Alt Right repels an invader, which seems to be the massed forces of secret government, aka the deep state. The problem the young would-be filmmaker has is he doesn't have a film to sell, only a trailer, but a trailer that becomes a YouTube hit, especially among the tinfoil hatters. That fleeting success interests the Hollywood investment vultures and, the kid, David Crowley, hopes to parlay that trailer into $30 mil for himself as someone else makes the actual film. And almost brings it off but....It's painful watching and, as a film, often disjointed. Fascinating, though.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, December 30, 2017

Anderson, Arcaini, Buenrostro

AUSTIN ANDERSON, Ukiah. Disobeying a court order.

PHILLIPE ARCAINI, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol-drugs, misdemeanor hit&run, no license.

YECENIA BUENROSTRO, Ukiah. False ID, probation revocation.

Buzzard, Campell, Duman

LUKUS BUZZARD, Willits. False impersonation of another, suspended license.

ROBERT CAMPBELL, Ukiah. Parole violation. (Frequent flyer.)

ROCKY DUMAN, Ukiah. Controlled substance. (Frequent flyer.)

Feola, Gonzalez, Hawkins

ALICIA FEOLA, Lakeport/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

JAIME GONZALEZ JR., Ukiah. Controlled substance, paraphernalia.

MISTY HAWKINS, Covelo. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, first degree robbery, failure to appear.

Hensley, Roston, Sommer

CHARLES HENSLEY, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)

BOBBY ROSTON, Ukiah. Parole violation.

ABEL SOMMER, Albion. Arson, battery with serious injury, willful cruelty to child with possible injury or death, assault with deadly weapon with great bodily injury, elder abuse, escape while charged with felony, probation revocation.

Suggs, Temple, Yeomans

RICHARD SUGGS, Ukiah. Protective order violation, probation revocation.

STEVEN TEMPLE SR., Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

DANIEL YEOMANS, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

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Western countries thought for too long that they could bomb people in faraway places without any repercussions. How many people complaining about terror attacks in their own country really truly care when an American drone kills an entire wedding party in Afghanistan, innocently celebrating the joys of life?

Re the fuelling of hate, this has parallels in the endless debates about burqa bans. I hate to see a woman feeling she has to cover herself from top to toe (especially when the ‘problem’ at the bottom of the whole issue isn’t women in the first place). But I don’t think the way to encourage people to relax their clothing rules, imposed or self-imposed, is to attack them for it – it’s almost entirely counter-productive. As for the spectacle of French policemen pulling a woman’s clothes off on a beach, words fail me – someone somewhere thought this would be helpful?

I was in Syria in 2005. There were women in long coats (practically no covered faces) walking through the souks linking arms with their daughters who were wearing jeans and tight jackets, with a headscarf as their only concession to traditional clothing. This is the natural progression of things when you leave people alone and don’t antagonize them.

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"SIGN OF THE TIMES" — County Road Junction in Central Wyoming

(Photo by Harvey Reading)

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BIBLIOTHERAPY BOOK CLUB for Teens (12-18) meets every 3rd Tuesday of the month at 4pm:

  • January 16th
  • February 20th
  • March 20th
  • April 17th
  • May 15th
  • June 19th
  • July 17th
  • Sept. 18th
  • Oct. 16th
  • Nov. 20th
  • Dec. 18th

The Ukiah Branch Library has partnered with Tapestry Family Services and Project Sanctuary to create a new book club for teens: Bibliotherapy Book Club! Starting in January, the Bibliotherapy Book Club for Teens (12-18) will meet monthly & focus on a variety of "tough topics" including anxiety, depression, grief, sexual abuse & rape, racism, bullying, suicide, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia, & issues surrounding gender identity - to name a few. Some titles we will read include:

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky (trauma, grief)
  • Hyberbole and a Half, Allie Brosh (depression)
  • Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher (suicide)
  • Say What You Will, Cammie McGovern (OCD)
  • Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell (sexual & physical abuse)
  • Speak, Laurie Halse Andersen (rape)

Teens will be able to discuss tough topics in a safe environment with trusted librarians and counselors from Tapestry & Project Sanctuary, as well as receive assistance for service referrals if requested.

Advance registration is required. If you are interested in the program or want to find out more about the Bibliotherapy Book Club, please contact Melissa at the Ukiah Library: 467-6434 or  This book club is free and open to all interested teens.

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by Kevin G. Hall

Half-a-dozen 2017 releases of long-secret documents about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy have given plenty of new leads to those who don’t believe alleged gunman Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

President Donald Trump promised via Twitter this fall that all the JFK assassination documents will be public by the end of April 2018 “to put any and all conspiracies to rest.”

Instead, the 34,963 documents released so far in 2017 have fed the fire tended by researchers and others who believe there is much more to the story of how a US president was assassinated in Dallas 54 years ago.

“To this point, as expected, we haven’t had a document that lists the conspirators in the murder of President Kennedy,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and author of The Kennedy Half Century. “What we have gotten is a lot of rich material, not just about the Kennedy assassination but the times.”

It was a 1991 movie, Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” that led Congress to require the secret documents to be released more than two decades later after they were reviewed for national security purposes and to protect past informants. The film, which challenged the official version of the assassination, brought conspiracy theorists into the mainstream and led other Americans to question the official version of events.

McClatchy’s Washington bureau, the Miami Herald and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram have pored over thousands of newly released JFK documents. Here are some of the new or bolstered leads revealed thus far by the new material.

Dallas mayor was CIA asset

One particular document from the August release has created much buzz. It that shows that Earle Cabell, mayor of Dallas at the time of the Nov. 22, 1963, shooting, became a CIA asset in late 1956.

The CIA had withheld the information on grounds that it was not considered relevant. No related documents have been released, but even alone it is important. Cabell’s brother Charles was deputy director of the CIA until he was fired by Kennedy in January 1962.

“That shows why Dallas was the place,” said Zack Shelton, a retired veteran FBI agent who fervently disbelieves that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone gunman. “I think the investigation or focus is going to be turned more into Oswald not being the lone wolf.”

Shelton, now 67 and retired in Beaumont, Texas, was an FBI agent in Chicago combating organized crime in the 1980s. In the process of helping bust a contraband ring involving an alleged mafia hitman named James Files, Shelton was told that Files had curious things to say about the Kennedy killing roughly 20 years earlier.

That tip to Shelton launched a chain of events that led to Files confessing from prison in Illinois that he was one of several gunmen in Dallas on the fateful day, and that he fired from the famous grassy knoll.

Many historians dismiss Files’ claims, but Shelton maintains that Files was indeed an assassin and was part of the Cosa Nostra mob organization headed in Chicago by Salvatore “Sam the Cigar” Giancana. Files was released from prison in 2016 after a long stint for attempted murder.

The CIA and FBI documents released so far say nothing about Files or another assassin he allegedly worked with named Charles Nicoletti, but that’s no surprise to Wim Dankbaar. He’s a Dutch national with a website and videos devoted to debunking what he considers a myth — that Oswald killed Kennedy or that he acted alone — and promoting the view that Files assassinated Kennedy.

“Do you really think they haven’t deep-sixed the incriminating files?” Dankbaar asked in a testy telephone interview.

The November tranche of new documents does include some about Giancana’s courier, a former Chicago cop who went by the alias Richard Cain and met in Mexico City with CIA staff; he was also an informant for the FBI. A 1992 biography written by Giancana’s family said the mob boss had told his younger brother that Cain and Nicoloetti, not Oswald, were in the Texas Book Depository from where shots at Kennedy were fired.

In addition, several new documents discuss the CIA and its work with mobsters to prevent Fidel Castro’s rise to power in Cuba and later oust him.

There’s this bar in New Orleans

Another revelatory JFK document released in full on Dec. 15 was the transcript of a 1978 interview by the House Select Committee on Assassinations with Orest Pena. According to Pena, a bar owner in New Orleans, Lee Harvey Oswald was a US government agent or informant.

How did he know? Because Pena himself was an informant, he said. He had given details to the Warren Commission in July 1964 but, as the new document shows, later revealed much more detail about Warren de Brueys, an FBI agent in New Orleans to whom Pena said he reported.

Oswald, he claimed, frequented a breakfast place regularly not only with de Brueys but with agents from US Customs and Immigration in New Orleans. Pena believed Oswald had an office in the same government complex.

Pena also testified to the House panel that de Brueys had threatened him if he shared with investigators details of their meetings and training of anti-Castro instigators, and that his FBI handler had transferred to Dallas before the assassination. Pena’s testimony, however, was largely discounted by two government commissions.

“Their reasons for denying this were weak,” said Rex Bradford, president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, which boasts the largest searchable electronic collection of JFK assassination documents; Bradford is another disbeliever in the official version of events.

The newly released transcript is likely to spark new interest in the New Orleans link to the assassination and searches of government records in multiple agencies, he said.

De Brueys died in 2013 at the age of 92. Son Jim de Brueys told the New Orleans Advocate at the time that his father was sent to Dallas after the assassination, not before, and that he was long frustrated by being named in conspiracy theories.

David Atlee Phillips, Texan in Mexico

One of the names experts are watching for in the documents yet to be released is David Atlee Phillips. The Texan was a native of Fort Worth, a decorated World War II veteran and actor who rose to CIA leadership roles across the Americas, including Cuba, Mexico and Chile.

Among the new documents released earlier this month was one showing that the CIA itself was trying to gauge what Phillips knew about Oswald and when he learned certain things about the alleged gunman’s mysterious September 1963 trip to Mexico.

Documents show that the CIA had tracked Oswald and picked up phone intercepts of his calls with and visits to the Soviet and Cuban embassies in the Mexican capital just months before the assassination in Dallas.

“He was there for six days and we know about six hours. What was he doing there? I don’t think he was on vacation,” said Sabato, who thinks there is still much to learn about the Mexico trip.

The new documents provide details about people with whom Oswald met in Mexico and agency efforts to reconstruct his time there when he visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies, purportedly seeking to travel to either country. Spying on the Cuban embassy was one of Phillips’ chief tasks, he wrote in his own autobiography, “The Night Watch.”

A main reason Phillips is of such interest is the claim by a now elderly anti-Castro leader in Miami that Oswald was a CIA informant handled by a man named Maurice (or Morris, as it sometimes appears) Bishop. And Bishop was actually an alias used by Phillips, insists Antonio Veciana.

Veciana, a Cuban émigré, helped lead the anti-Castro group Alpha 66 and claims he himself worked with Bishop/Phillips, and saw him with Oswald.

In a statement to McClatchy, Veciana, now 89 and in failing health, said that “I have no doubt that the man I knew as Maurice Bishop was David Atlee Phillips. He was the same man I saw with Oswald”...

(The Sacramento Bee)

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by Spec MacQuayde

Saturday morning I awoke later than usual, with a headache after a night at the Buckhorn. Some wedding party had arrived from the Boonville Hotel across the street, mostly people in their mid 20s from the Bay Area, jovial and insisting upon buying drinks for any locals who engaged in conversation.

The Ukiah Farmers' Market starts at nine a.m. these days. When I finally staggered down the steps to the old truck, turned the key, the digital numbers read "9:35." Jimmy Humble was on the air with the Real Sarahs live in the KZYX studio. As the truck climbed Highway 253, they played the first song he'd requested, "Headed for the Hills." Static interrupted over the grade. Ironically I was headed to Russian River Studios in Talmage, where they had recorded their latest album. The owner and I had planted an heirloom watermelon variety, Mickey Lee, in the space between their rows of apples and plums, and they'd proliferated on genuine horse shit from the stables.

The Sarahs were singing "Half Love" by the time I got to the studio and discovered that the watermelons were gone. They'd been turned to mulch. There was nothing but dry soil between the trees. I guess the vineyard and orchard managers had decided the season was over, which it mostly was, one reason I hadn't been too worried about sleeping in. Still, I decided to stop by the market since I had no other plans for the day. The Mickey Lees were a seed crop that I'd been growing with Phil Cool, a vendor, and we'd already harvested tons, literally. Tons of melons, anyway. I didn't do any of the seed saving. His truck was parked there on School Street, but by now the Sarahs were singing "Fireflies", so I chilled in the shade for a minute. Their harmonies continue to blow people away. Not trying to flatter them by saying this, either. I only report the facts. I listened to the rest of Jimmy's show, as they did this bluesy tune from back in the twenties that Sarah Ryan called "cheeky." I'd never heard anybody dub anything "cheeky" and wondered what that involved. Sexual innuendo, it soon become clear: "Don't come too soon."

Since I already had an Amtrak ticket to depart for Indianapolis from Emeryville, a trip back to the Hoosier Homestead to check up on a few things like a house infested with bedbugs and septic tanks full, I wasn't interested in "Trading Time," the next show, though it's another local resource worth having as they say on pledge drive. At the market I walked past the Girls Gone Wild fish vendor and glanced at Phil Cool's tables covered with baskets of figs and cherry tomatoes, also the empty one set up for watermelons. He wasn't there. Instead, it was Jetta, who has considered herself my girlfriend on and off for five years, now. She was holding her baby.

"Where's Phil?"

"He had to play piano at a recital."

"You look really happy," I said.

She was glowing. "Things are working out for me. I can't believe it."

Recently I have heard all kinds of rumors about our relationship, which has been written about in this newspaper for five years. Previously my "girlfriends" had always been ficticious. However she was in Indiana when we met, a long way from Anderson Valley, and didn't mind that I used her real name, which is somewhat unique. She also didn't mind that I introduced her to people as my "Ho." I'm not sure if the readers are aware of what has happened to the youth of America in the last two decades, but basically from the age of twelve a majority of the boys and girls are trained by drug dealers to aspire to be pimps or hoes. All wars create that situation, and the Drug War is no exception. If it wasn't for the fact that I was actually out in a field hoeing weeds by myself, daydreaming about puns and the dating scene in the local bars, none of this ever would have happened. There would have been no Spec and Jetta, no Hoefest. I was an eccentric, broke, hippie who dabbled in writing and farming when I met her, and had been basically destitute by most people's standards my entire adult life, so playing the role of a pimp was a total joke. She was twenty two at the time and had never met somebody who read Kafka for fun. I had watermelons for the Bloomington Farmers' market, and she rode along on a Saturday morning.

Then our buddy, Hippie Mike, had this idea to put on a music festival. At first we were going to call it "Hoosier Hoedown," but at a consensus meeting with the lesbian couple who were staying and working at our farm, we all decided to just go for it and say, "Hoefest." If it wouldn't have been for the presence of the women I wouldn't have gone for it, because the implicitions made me nervous to say the least. The word "sexist" would no doubt be launched at me, especially that first year. I woke up in a cold sweat every morning, petrified by the very thought of a music festival on our farm, let alone the inevitable stigma. I had to quit drinking warm beverages. The next thing you knew it appeared that I was a pimp, in our rural, conservative, farming community. The joke had become reality, and Jetta was part of it. Readers of the AVA thought she was a figment of my imagination, which in a way was partially true. If her name had been "Jill" or "Rebecca" or "Tonya" it wouldn't have mattered that I'd used her real name, but by now she was on the original Hoefest poster, which the website still uses.

Somewhat ironically, her recent baby, now three months old, was probably conceived at the brother to Hoefest, the autumn "Rakefest," that we hold at the Farmhouse. I was with a local woman my own age that night, as an alibi, while Jetta was camping with the baby's daddy. It wasn't the possibility of paternity that caused me to want Jetta to take a train out to Ukiah this spring, but for better or worse we are somewhat connected til death do us part, thanks to Facebook, unless the internet goes down. Our histories are intertwined. I wanted the baby to be born in Mendocino County where my three boys all have had happy childhoods, and in the likely event that the kid wasn't mine, the even likelier event that she would soon grow tired of hanging out with an alcoholic writer in the middle of his first true work of fiction that might be called a "novel," I had friends who would be glad to take her out to dinner.

One of them approached the farmers' market table, carrying a smart phone from Wal-Mart still in the box. He's a great guy, good with kids, a lot sweeter than I am, which is about as well as I can safely describe him. I know he cares as much as I do, probably more. I love Jetta and the baby, don't get me wrong, but my kids are more or less their own men now so I have retired from playing daddy or boyfriend all day long, and I got bedbugs at the Farmhouse in Indiana to deal with, septic tanks, fun shit. The place is vacant except for friends stopping by to take care of the dogs, cats, and chickens, the tenants having effectively evicted themselves. Not exactly the kind of travels suitable for a three month old infant.

"I would have called you," she said, "but I lost my phone last night."

I felt like I was walking on the moon, which had been nearly full the previous night. I smiled at her as my buddy set the phone box and Straight Talk card on the empty table.

"What?" she asked.

"It's a beautiful day in Ukiah."


"Hey--think I finally got a title for this book." (Originally it was going to be my farming memoirs, titled 101 Ways to Strike Out, but due to Hoefest I thought about changing it to 101 Ways to Use a Hoe, sort of a mix of fiction and fact. I'd nearly finished the first draft of this story which mostly takes place in my home community. Thomas Wolfe had written You Can't Go Home Again, about returning to his hometown in North Carolina, back in the early 1930's. Then Gene Logsdon, the country humorist, wrote You CAN Go Home Again, after going back to Sandusky, Ohio. I've been toying with all those themes and titles.) "What about, You Can Go Hoe Again? Sort of an inspirational, back-to-the-land--"

A customer approached the table, inquiring about figs. "Where's Phil?"

"Playing piano somewhere, at a party or a recital, I think? He had to duck out," said Jetta.

"Phil plays piano?"

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by Dan Bacher

In spite of a record water year in Northern California, the abundance of Delta smelt recorded in the state’s annual fall midwater survey (FMWT) is the lowest in the survey’s 50-year history.

The results of the survey were announced as the Trump administration proposes the reduction of pumping restrictions and other measures to “maximize water deliveries” for Central Valley Project irrigators, making conditions even worse for the smelt.

Only two Delta smelt were collected at Delta index stations in October. One was from Suisun Bay and the other from the confluence of Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, reported James White, California Department of Fish and Wildlife environmental scientist, in a memo.

The CDFW collected no Delta smelt  in September, November, or December.

The agency collected the smelt, along with other five other pelagic (open water) species, in trawl nets at 100 index stations throughout the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, from September 1 through December 13.

“The population is so low that they can’t find each other to mate,” Tom Cannon, a fish ecologist and consultant for the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, told Alex Breitler of the Stockton Record. “We’re lucky to have any smelt.

During the last big water year, 2011, the number of Delta smelt increased ten times, but not this year.

Maligned by agribusiness groups and San Joaquin Valley Republican Congressman as a “small minnow” supposedly standing in the way of deliveries of Delta water to irrigators, the Delta smelt is in fact a indicator species that demonstrates the health of the Delta ecosystem like the proverbial “canary in the coal mine.”

Three other species surveyed by the agency, longfin smelt, striped bass and threadfin shad, did relatively better in the high water flow conditions that hit the Delta from the fall through summer. Two others, threadfin shad and Sacramento splitail, didn’t fare so well.

The health of the fish populations is measured by means of the CDFW’s “abundance index,” a relative measure of abundance.

The abundance index (141) for longfin smelt is the highest since 2013. Seventy longfin smelt were collected at index stations.

The index (470) for striped bass is the highest since 2001. Three hundred ninety-nine age-0 striped bass were collected at index stations.

The number (3086) for American shad is the highest since 2003. Two thousand three hundred fifty-seven American shad were collected at index stations.

The threadfin shad didn’t do as well as its cousin, the American shad. The threadfin index (291) is the seventh lowest in FMWT history (Figure 4). Only two hundred sixty-two threadfin shad were collected at index stations.

The index for the Sacramento splittail “shows a continuing trend of very little to no catch of splittail in FMWT,” said White.

One splittail was collected at an index station in December from Suisun Bay. No other splittail were collected in September, October, or November from index or non-index stations, said White.

Dr. Peter B Moyle, Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, at the Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, Center for Watershed Sciences, UC Davis, said there “is no easy answer” why the smelt declined even in a record water year when biologists would have expected a rebound.

“The answer is that we really don't know. The best explanation I can think of is that numbers are so low that an increase (or decrease) in the index would not be detectable with the FMT sampling,” he said.

“Another is that there was so much water last winter that  smelt were more dispersed than usual and had a hard time finding mates; this would keep numbers low. When numbers are as low, as they clearly are for smelt, random factors in sampling, in distribution, in spawning success etc can make a big difference to the total population or the index,” said Moyle.

“Note that Delta smelt are still abundant enough in places so that focused sampling can find them. For example, Tien-Chieh Hung had no problem collecting a 100 smelt in one day for his smelt culture program,” he noted.

“What is interesting is that the indices for striped bass and American shad show a fairly strong positive response to the wet winter,” Moyle stated. “Both have planktivorous larvae/juveniles that are estuarine-dependent, carried there by higher flows. They are better indictors of a functioning estuary than are smelt these days.  Note that indices for splittail and threadfin shad are meaningless because the FWT is not a good way sample them.”

A number of factors have resulted in the decline of Delta smelt and the other pelagic species, including increases in toxics and invasive species, but no factor has helped precipitate the collapse of Delta fish species more than the export of big quantities of water to agribusiness and Southern California water agencies from the state and federal pumping facilities in the South Delta over the past 50 years.

The record total for water exports, including water diverted by the Contra Costa Canal and North Bay Aqueduct, was 6,633,000 acre-feet in 2011. That was 163,000 acre-feet more than the previous record of 6,470,000 acre-feet set in 2005, according to DWR data.

The Delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) is an endangered slender-bodied smelt, about 2.0 to 2.8 in long, in the family Osmeridae. Once the most abundant fish found in the estuary that numbered in the millions, the fish has declined dramatically in recent years.

Found only in the upper Sacramento-San Joaquin River Estuary, the smelt mainly inhabits the freshwater-saltwater mixing zone of the estuary, except during its spawning season, when it migrates upstream to freshwater following winter "first flush" flow events, around March to May, according to Wikipedia.

The smelt is very susceptible to changes in the environmental conditions of its habitat due to its one-year lifecycle and relatively low fecundity. Because of this, the fish is an “indicator species” that demonstrates the health of the Delta ecosystem. Government efforts to protect the endangered fish from moving closer to extinction have focused on limiting or modifying the pumping activities of state and federal water projects in the South Delta, as well as the creation of a captive breeding facility.

However, these limited efforts have not been aggressive enough to prevent the species from nearing extinction in the wild. To make things worse, the Trump administration today formally announced its intention to "maximize water deliveries" for Central Valley Project contractors and "augment operational flexibility by addressing the status of listed species,” including Delta and longfin smelt, spring and winter-run Chinook steelhead, Central Valley steelhead and other fish species.

The Bureau of Reclamation, under the helm of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman, said in the Federal Register that it intends to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement (EIS) for “analyzing potential modifications to the continued long-term operation of the federal CentralValley Project (CVP), for its authorized purposes, in a coordinated manner with the State Water Project (SWP), for its authorized purposes.”

“Reclamation proposes to evaluate alternatives that maximize water deliveries and optimize marketable power generation consistent with applicable laws, contractual obligations, and agreements; and to augment operational flexibility by addressing the status of listed species. Reclamation is seeking suggestions and information on the alternatives and topics to be addressed and any other important issues related to the proposed action,” according to Reclamation.

Written comments on the scope of the EIS must be submitted by February 1, 2018. To read the Federal Notice, go to:

* * *


"If the short con is an anecdote, the long con is a novel. Essentially,  a short con involves taking the pigeon for all the money he has on his  person, while the long con sends him home to get more." -Luc Sante

The recording of last night's (2017-12-29) KNYO and KMEC Memo of the  Air: Good Night Radio show is ready to download for free and enjoy at  any time of the day or night, via

*You don't have to go there though if you don't want to. Thanks to Hank  Sims of Lost Coast Outpost you can listen to the show with one click:

But besides that, as usual also at  you'll find a fresh batch of links to not necessarily radio-useful but  nonetheless worthwhile items I set aside for you while putting the show  together. Such as:

A paean to Doctor Bose (20 minutes well spent). Near the end, the MIT  finance woman mists up a little bit, mainly, I think, because of the  yummy $150 million bequest, though maybe she liked the guy some and was  genuinely sorry he's dead and misses him. It can be both.


Everyone in this waffle restaurant just suddenly went crazy and attacked  everyone else, kicking and punching and scratching and grabbing and  screaming. You can see in the video how it gradually settles down as  they all become exhausted. Nobody knows what started it. Some kind of  gas, maybe. Something in the batter. /The Screwfly Solution/ by James  Tiptree Jr., perhaps, or it could have been one of those alien monsters  who hover up in a corner of the warp engine room and feed on rage  brainwaves. But... /wait/ a minute. Why didn't it affect the person (or  creature) running the camera? Hm.

And clouds.

Little fluffy clouds. Ilse Langley: "This was the last song played at my  sister's funeral and it was great. All of a sudden the rooster cockle  doodle doo-ed and everybody started laughing. A perfect ending for this  sad occasion.

–Marco McClean



  1. Craig Stehr December 31, 2017

    It’s one o’clock in the morning at Post & Taylor in San Francisco, with a very loud shouting match accelerating toward a fight happening in the Isadora Duncan alleyway beneath my bedroom window. Meanwhile, the Owl Tree bar on the corner is packed with tourists who are getting a head start on New Year’s Eve reveling. Only the Bohemian Club across the way is quiet. I guess they died. I am leaving for Honolulu on Monday. ~HAPPY NEW YEAR~

  2. Harvey Reading December 31, 2017

    Love the regulations cartoon.

  3. james marmon December 31, 2017

    The year 2017 in review: Lake County survives floods and fires, gets support for Clear Lake, produces national wrestling champ.

    -Money for Clear Lake study, bill creates blue ribbon committee

    “When Gov. Jerry Brown signed the 2017-18 California State Budget into law in June, it included $2 million to help implement the revitalization of Clear Lake and its regional economy, funds secured by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), whose district includes Lake County.

    It was a major accomplishment for Aguiar-Curry, the former Mayor of winters who took office in December 2016.

    Aguiar-Curry called the funds the state’s “first down payment toward improving the environmental health of Clear Lake,” and an important investment in Lake County’s local economy and its people. She said improving the lake’s water quality also is a regional issue.”

    Clear Lake’s cyanobacteria is a blue ribbon problem

    • james marmon December 31, 2017

      Jobs, Jobs, Jobs? I think so. This lake contributes to the toxicity of waterways from here to L.A. It is a regional problem and it is about time Lake County gets an economic boost.

      ‘Clearlake, clean it and they will come.’

      -James Marmon

      AB 707, Aguiar-Curry. Clear Lake.

      “Existing law establishes in state government the Ventura-Los Angeles Mountain and Coastal Study Commission. Existing law requires the commission to make a detailed study of all factors that may significantly affect or cause irreversible modification of the present and future status of the Ventura-Los Angeles Mountain and Coastal Zone and its relationship with the region, as provided.

      This bill would establish in the Natural Resources Agency, the Blue Ribbon Committee for the Rehabilitation of Clear Lake. The bill would require the committee to consist of specified persons, including the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, or his or her designee. The bill would require the committee to meet quarterly for the purposes of discussion, reviewing research, planning, and providing oversight regarding the health of Clear Lake. The bill would require the committee to hold 2 meetings per year in the County of Lake. The bill would require the committee to provide an annual report to the Governor and the Legislature, as provided. The bill would authorize the committee to receive assistance and funds from public and private sources and to expend funds and award grants to conduct research upon appropriation by the Legislature.”

      • George Hollister December 31, 2017

        Clear Lake is a nutrient sink, no matter what is done, this fact can not be changed.

        Some perspective, how many people lived around Clear Lake 200 years ago? How about 600 years ago?

    • Betsy Cawn January 1, 2018

      As Supervisor Steele explains, restorative practices that were prescribed in 1994 (in a USEPA-UCDavis published report) were not implemented, and in the recent decade not even basic “lakebed management” has been provided by the County’s Public Works Department (“water resources division”). Meanwhile, a phantom “watershed protection district” — created by 2004 state legislation (SB 1136) — collects a couple of million dollars a year without producing any visible results. Oh, they have a feeble “sticker” program that purports to “prevent” the infestation of Clear Lake by invasive mussels (Dreissenid species that have overtaken vast areas of the Great Lakes, Lake Havasu, and many southern California water storage bodies). But there is no judge in Lake County who will even attempt to enforce the token ordinance prohibiting the launch of a vessel without the requisite “sticker,” and no cops who will take the trouble to “cite” a violator — let alone impound the stickerless vessel to test it for the presence of the highly dangerous creatures.

      The same phantom “district” is responsible for compliance with a “water quality order” from the State Water Resources Control Board (safe drinking water division), ostensibly designed to prevent further degradation of the “receiving water body” by nutrient-laden stormwater runoff. Since the lake’s drinking water supply — and Yolo County’s irrigation water supply — is totally dependent on annual rainfall drainage from the surrounding watershed, improving conditions in that terrain (especially fragile creekbeds and vegetated slopes) has long been established as an effective remediation approach. For a good example of how to make that work and benefit the economy, take a look at Napa County’s “Measure A” — which restored a significant area of the upper Napa River watershed, stopped the annual flooding of downstream cities and towns, and enabled the City of Napa to embark on a very successful revitalization program.

      Until the County of Lake “comes clean” about its misuse of public funds (see the Grand Jury Reports for the last couple of years) and returns to sound management of natural resources — largely abandoned in the 21st Century for pie-in-the-sky marketing schemes and wine-driven wishful thinking — no committee run by state officials is going to help, especially if they’re getting their information from the local people in charge.

  4. Harvey Reading December 31, 2017


    Plus they own the Public Utilities Commission, originally set up to regulate them.

  5. james marmon December 31, 2017

    Donald J. Trump Verified Account
    20 hours ago

    “I use Social Media not because I like to, but because it is the only way to fight a VERY dishonest and unfair “press,” now often referred to as Fake News Media. Phony and non-existent “sources” are being used more often than ever. Many stories & reports a pure fiction!”

  6. james marmon December 31, 2017

    Scott Pruitt EPA Director, “back to basics”

    The Environmental Protection Agency administrator came into office promising to discard his predecessor’s “overreaching” focus on climate change and concentrate on what he called the agency’s real mission: cleaning up the air, water and land.

    “EPA’s Superfund program is responsible for cleaning up some of the nation’s most contaminated land and responding to environmental emergencies, oil spills and natural disasters. To protect public health and the environment, the Superfund program focuses on making a visible and lasting difference in communities, ensuring that people can live and work in healthy, vibrant places.”

    • George Hollister December 31, 2017

      Scott Pruitt is the best EPA administrator there has been. Of course the bar has been pretty low.

      • Harvey Reading January 1, 2018

        You and James have an odd take on reality. Sort of a Dark Ages perspective.

  7. Randy Burke December 31, 2017

    LET NOT ONE OF SEE ONE ANOTHER IN “CATCH OF THE DAY” or on a CHP report. Stay healthy!

  8. james marmon December 31, 2017

    Donald J. Trump Verified Account

    1 hour ago

    “As our Country rapidly grows stronger and smarter, I want to wish all of my friends, supporters, enemies, haters, and even the very dishonest Fake News Media, a Happy and Healthy New Year. 2018 will be a great year for America!”

    • Harvey Reading January 1, 2018

      You betcha!

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