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Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018

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WE'RE TRYING to confirm that Warren Galletti has resigned his position as Mendocino County Superintendent of Schools. Even if he hasn't resigned it would be hard to tell since the position comes with no identifiable tasks. Of course we hope he isn't ill. He may have resigned to take the helm at the Point Arena School District, thus sparing him the commute to MCOE's Ukiah compound. Stay tuned.

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RAIN! Welcome back. It’s been a while. Please make yourself at home. We were all wondering where you’d been. And now that you’re here, stay for a few days, but not long enough to convert our streams to the raging, eroding torrents they were last year, so powerful several Valley families lost as much as an acre of their streamside properties.

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HIGHWAY 128 re-opened Monday morning about 6am. The sandbar at the mouth of the Navarro breached about 4am.

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Hey all, is anyone available to give Brenda Weeks a ride to the Sacramento Airport from Fort Bragg tomorrow (Tuesday) evening? She is traveling to give her little granddaughter a bone marrow transplant. Is anyone available to be an Angel/Hero tomorrow? She has to be there by 11:30 pm, but can be dropped off earlier. Gas fully compensated for the trip. Thank you for your consideration. Her number is 707-357-8052.

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Poor Little Dog. I thought you were trying to be at peace in the new year with Skrag’s part in the household, but the post about Skrag having to leave puts that goal to rest, it appears. An idea for Little Dog: Ask The Editor to get a copy of the DVD documentary, Kedi. It’s a cool story about the numerous cats who live comfortably on the streets of Istanbul, helped and cared for by the many cat lovers there. I know it’s a stretch, Little Dog, but seeing all these cats living their lives out there might help you see that cats are actually cool and resourceful, and should be respected, even by fierce dogs like you. And perhaps if that doesn’t do the trick, you can see that things could be far worse—you could be a dog in Istanbul, surrounded by more cats—and more cat lovers—than you’ve ever imagined.


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I will be reading from my new book, Continent of Ghosts, at the North Beach Public Library on January 16. If you are in the city come by around 7 o’clock. This will be the first time reading in the city for a few years. I feel very much like the Country Mouse. A friendly face would be welcome. I’m visible now on the internet at I update this site every month with bon mots, stories and the usual fare.

In qua est ipsum esse negatvit — Exist where existence is denied.

Bill Bradd

Ten Mile/Fort Bragg

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by Jim Shields

Just last week I predicted that PG&E and the state’s other two utility Goliaths— Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric — were preparing for a take-no-prisoners battle on proposed legislation preventing electric utilities from passing costs that result from negligent practices onto customers by raising rates.

I also said the Big Three will argue that if enacted the law will force the electrical giants into bankruptcy. That in turn will set in motion the call invoking of another “B-word”, as in taxpayer-funded “Bailout.”

I may have forecasted those possible scenarios, but I didn’t think we’d see the rollout this soon.

This Wednesday, Jan. 3, PG&E released the following statement regarding California Senate Bill 819, the proposed law prohibiting electric utilities from pushing costs resulting from negligence onto ratepayers:

“While there has been no determination on the causes of the Northern California wildfires that took place in October, it is clear that California needs much broader reforms that recognize the mutual interests of customers, utilities, investors, insurers and others as we work together to address the impacts of climate change including more frequent and more damaging wildfires. California is one of the only states in the country where the courts have applied inverse condemnation liability to events caused by a privately owned utility’s equipment. This means that if a utility’s equipment is found to have been a substantial cause of the damage in the event like a wildfire – even if the utility has followed established inspection and safety rules – the utility may be liable for property damages and attorneys’ fees associated with that event. Allowing essentially unlimited liability undermines the financial health of the state’s utilities, discourages investment in California and has the potential to materially impact the ability of utilities to access the capital markets to fund utility operations. All of these are bad for customers and bad for the state of California. And, at a time when California is asking privately owned utilities to invest billions of dollars to meet the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, these risks pose real consequences for the state’s environment, economy and communities.”

While PG&E did not specifically invoke the word bankruptcy, it left little doubt what was meant by “Allowing essentially unlimited liability undermines the financial health of the state’s utilities, discourages investment in California and has the potential to materially impact the ability of utilities to access the capital markets to fund utility operations.” That’s basically the definition of bankruptcy.

PG&E’s statement was released just an hour or so after State Senator Jerry Hill, joined by Senators Ben Allen, Bill Dodd, Mike McGuire and Scott Wiener and Assemblymembers Marc Levine and Jim Wood, introduced the legislation on Jan. 3.

In a Dec. 20 press release, the utility giant announced that it is suspending dividend payments to shareholders out of concern for any finding of financial liability in Northern California's devastating wildfires.

In the statement, board chairman Richard C. Kelly said utility officials decided temporarily halting the payments “is prudent with respect to cash conservation” for the state's largest utility.

Investors’ stomachs started churning six weeks ago when a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing by PG&E disclosed that its liability insurance coverage is only $800 million for any losses from the fires. $800 million won’t go very far given the estimated $9 billion to $11 billion in damages from the Wine Country fires.

According to Hill, SB 819 was prompted by the Big Three’s ongoing efforts to recover costs resulting from long-past wildfires by seeking California Public Utilities’ (PUC) approval to increase rates, even if found at fault in the fires. The much-criticized practice came under sharp scrutiny as one such effort, by San Diego Gas & Electric, came up for review by the PUC at the height of Northcoast wildfires last October. In a surprise decision, the usually utility-compliant PUC, rejected San Diego Gas & Electric’s request to charge customers $379 million to cover a portion of the utility’s damage claims from the Witch, Guejito and Rice Fires. Cal Fire investigators said the fires, which killed two people and destroyed 1,300 homes, were caused in part by problems with power lines and other SDG&E equipment.

While the cause of the Wine Country fires is still being investigated, legislators want to ensure that the electric utilities cannot recover the costs that result from the utilities’ negligent practices by raising rates for customers.

“The practice is an outrage and it’s time to stop allowing utilities to push the burden of their negligence onto the backs of customers,” said Hill this week. “Victims of devastating fires and other tragedies, and ratepayers in general, should not be forced to pay for the mistakes made by utilities.”

Sen. McGuire, whose district includes communities ravaged by the wildfires in October, said: “Thousands of North Bay residents have lost their homes and businesses and many escaped these devastating fires with nothing but the clothes on their backs and their family's safety. While there is an active fire investigation taking place, there is absolutely no way residents who are suffering from this massive tragedy should ever pay for a corporation's potential negligence. It's simply unconscionable and I'm grateful to join with Senator Hill on this important piece of legislation.”

In a statement released by Hill, he outlined the nexus between existing PUC processes and the proposed law. Before ratepayers bear any cost incurred by a utility, the California Public Utilities Commission is required to evaluate whether those costs are just and reasonable. For example, if a wildfire occurs in a utility’s service territory, the utility will incur costs to repair and replace equipment damaged by the fire. The CPUC has the authority to determine if the utility acted reasonably in responding to the fire – in preventing the fire from occurring, in mitigating the fire’s spread, and in recovery efforts during and after the fire – before allowing the utility to increase rates to pay for the damage.

The CPUC’s ability to determine reasonable behavior, and to allow or disallow cost recovery in rates based on that review, is a central tenet of the CPUC’s authority.

SB 819 provides the CPUC with full authority to apply a reasonableness review to electric utilities’ requests for cost recovery. In addition, the bill clarifies that fines, penalties, or uninsured expenses resulting from negligent behavior are not recoverable in rates.

Gas companies are already prevented from shifting the burden of fines and penalties onto customers as a result of legislation by then-Assemblymember Hill in response to the PG&E gas pipeline explosion that leveled a San Bruno neighborhood in 2010. The legislation, Assembly Bill 56, was approved by the governor in 2011.

You can bet that money will be no problem when the Big Three’s lobby corps invades Sacramento to launch a pre-emptive strike against the ratepayer protection bill. Hopefully, this time around our legislators are up to the job of actually protecting the people they ostensibly represent.

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

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ON THE SUBJECT of wonder, Dave Evans of the Navarro Store isn’t the only one annually wondering at CalTrans failure to steer visitors to the Mendocino Coast over the Comptche Road when CalTrans closes Highway 128. The County of Mendocino might also take the trouble of assuring travelers that the Mendocino Coast remains easily accessible via Comptche. Given the many thousands of annual dollars the County spends advertising County splendors why the annual deterrent of scaring people away?

PEBBLES TRIPPET of Navarro is prominent among the pioneers of legal marijuana. She recently went national in a television show on the history of legalization. Pebs' neo-ubiquity reminded me of her visit some ten years ago to our old office in the Farrer Building, central Boonville. No sooner was she through the door, and still wheezing from the climb up the stairs, when she asked if she could fire one up. I said sure, but my colleague, The Major, shouting as if he was about to be shot, “No! It makes me nauseous! Please don’t smoke it in here, Pebbles.” As an old school guy, my position is if a lady of a certain age wants to smoke a marijuana cigarette in my office or do cartwheels or fly a kite out the window, what the hey, she’s got seniority. I said, "Go ahead, Pebs, the smoking lamp is lit!" The Major stayed opposed. We went back and forth. “This lady could be your mother, Major,” I argued, “and she’s our guest.” The Major replied, “My mother wasn’t a drug addict. She, she, she..... My mother was a Druid, a Point Arena Druid!” We finally arrived at a compromise suggested by our visitor. “I’ll only take one hit,” Pebs promised. The Major buried his head in his hands and moaned, “No, Pebs, please, no.” Pebs produced a bomber as big around as my wrist and, in what seemed like a single, almost subliminally rapid move, lit it, took a drag, extinguished the dragon, and staggered backwards into a chair, exclaiming, “Wow! Thank you,” and that was that. When she left, The Major was still distraught. "For Crissakes. This is supposed to be a business office, not a goddam dope den. Don't let her do that again!"

IF YOU DIDN'T wade through the LA Times story on the failure of warning systems during the Big Fires, the following are the relevant Mendo paragraphs:

(1) “….Phone records show fire evacuation warnings in Mendocino were delayed by overwhelmed sheriff’s dispatchers."

(2) “…Mendocino County was 90 minutes into its wildfire when the first call came from the field for evacuation warnings. The dispatcher wrestled 10 minutes with the wording, then called a lieutenant at home. He encouraged a valley-wide warning “just so we can get people awake.” But she worried about downed power lines, and they agreed to “hold off, because we have to figure out where [residents] are going to go.

“It was 43 minutes before the county launched its phone-dialing system to ring some 4,000 numbers in Redwood Valley, already engulfed in fire. The automated phone messages were limited to incomplete phone lists, and then blacked out when cell towers were lost to the fire. Nine people died in that valley, in their homes or attempting to leave."

(3) “…Hundreds of miles north in Mendocino County, where emergency managers have now discovered steep ridges block even the radio signals of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather alerts, Sheriff Thomas Allman has settled on a different path. “He is buying air sirens."

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The “Sacred Cow” sandbar breached just after 4:00 am allowing the backed up waters to drain the floodwater covering Highway 128. The USGS river gauge stopped rising around 4:00 am (it peaked @ 4.62') and showed it's first drop in its level Monday @ 4:15 am.

CALTRANS noted the breach & notified the CHP @ 5:15 am “the roadway will be clear of water soon.”

At 5:57 am, CHP posted “The roadway is now officially open per CALTRANS unit 183-7."

Highway 128 closed Friday @ 3:30 pm so it had been shut down for 38.5 hours. Last November it was closed thanks to the sandbar for 36 hours before a breach. In November, 2016, it was closed due to sandbar flooding for 5.3 DAYS!

(Courtesy, MendocinoSportsPlus)

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"On Friday, January 5, an officer of the Fort Bragg Police Department conducted a bicycle stop on Alan Dicello (age 23 of Fort Bragg) in order to question his involvement in a bicycle theft from late 2017.

During the bicycle stop, the Officer noted that Dicello was in possession of a children’s size aluminum baseball bat. While conducting a pat search for additional weapons the Officer located a 'punch knife' (see photo) in the suspect’s back pants pocket. The knife was positioned in a manner where it was concealed but able to be quickly retrieved and utilized in violation of 21310 PC (Possession of Concealed Dirk or Dagger).

Dicello was arrested for the violation and a search incident to arrest, of Dicello’s person and backpack led to the discovery of a glass methamphetamine pipe and a small amount of suspected crystal methamphetamine.

The additional charges were added to Dicello’s arrest, and he was booked, cited and released with a notice to appear.

The Fort Bragg Police Department would like to encourage the public to review Section 21310 of the California Penal Code. In summary, this statute prohibits the concealed carry of fixed-blade knives in general. The concept behind the statute is that concealed knives which can be easily produced and quickly used as a stabbing weapon, represent a greater threat to the public in general. This statute does not prohibit fixed-blade knives openly displayed or concealed folding knives as long as the blade is not open and locked into position.

Questions about this case or press release may be directed to Officer Thomas N. O’Neal at (707) 961-2800 ext. 167 or to"

(Fort Bragg PD press release)

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The Albion River Bridge is California's last remaining timber trestle state highway bridge. It was recently listed in the National Register of Historic Places and in the California Register of Historic Resources.

To celebrate this honor there will be a photo exhibit at the Albion Post Office from January 5 through January 31. Everyone is invited. Come enjoy vintage images of the Albion mills, the stages of construction of the historic Albion River Bridge, and modern aerial photos.

For years, Caltrans has proposed demolishing the Albion River Bridge and replacing it with a new concrete bridge. However this is being opposed by many Mendocino Coast residents who want to preserve the bridge because of its iconic beauty and historic uniqueness.

For more information please visit: and the Albion Community Advisory Board (ACAB) web site: and for the ideas that the Albion Bridge Stewards, a working group of ACAB contributed.

To contact us please e-mail

For information from Caltrans, please visit:

The Albion Post Office is open from 8am to 12 noon and 12:30pm to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday; closed Saturday and Sunday.

Annemarie Weibel, Albion, Member Albion Bridge Stewards

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It was a bad year.

2017 started good: everything was in place. I retired in March. I planned. I had four pensions. I calculated I would make just under $2000 per month. Unfortunately the Sheet Metal Workers International pension plan on payday sent me a five-page letter that said they were not going to pay me and the reasons why.

When I left the Sheet-Metal union I was not allowed to do any sheet metal work and I didn't. However, the International had its own "plan." Their definition of sheet metal work is anything: plumbing, electrical, dancing an Irish gig… Their decision is final and binding. The letter stating I was denied arrived on December 17, 2017. Merry Christmas.

I would like to thank my friends who wrote letters on my behalf earlier this year. In my attempt to receive one of my three pensions (two paid up) I asked people to write letters. Only one declined.

It took 10 months and three meetings, but the Appeals Board for Sheetmetal Union #104 did finally look at my appeal, which failed.

The plan is bulletproof. The last line of the original denial letter said, "Please understand that the Appeals committee has full discretion to interpret the plan."

I really appreciate the support and letters from my boss, Scott Ritchie, and my coworker, Phil Burfoot. They know what I did at the schools and I didn't violate "the plan." I also received letters from the contractors who did the construction and repairs at the schools, Rick O'Neill of Tom’s Plumbing, Chris Atchison of CNA Metalworks, Darren Iverson of Mehl's Electric, and Bob Vogler of Sequoia Heating. Thanks, guys.

I would have liked a letter from the Point Arena school district but they declined. I doubt it would have helped my cause, but it would have made me feel better. I was so disappointed. But it doesn't matter now. Tomorrow is a new day. I'm looking forward to the new year and, Hello career number three.

Bill Stokem


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CATCH OF THE DAY, January 8, 2017

Damian, Garcia, Kostick

SERGIO DAMIAN, Rohnert Park/Ukiah. DUI.

ISIAH GARCIA, Ukiah. Grand theft auto, receiving stolen property.

JEFFREY KOSTICK, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.

Peters, Vichi, Warren

BYRON PETERS, Ukiah. Community Supervision and county parole violation.

ELMER VICHI, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, possession & transportation, probation revocation.

EDWARD WARREN, Ukiah. DUI with blood-alcohol over 0.15%.

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Leaks to Iran’s public of secret budgetary items have precipitated massive ongoing protests (“Iran protesters target both sides,” Wednesday). The protesters resent in particular the allocation of billions of dollars to the military and to religious organizations that enrich the clerical elite, while at the same time cash subsidies end for millions of citizens and fuel prices increase, and laws force privatization of public schools.

All these actions are alarmingly similar to U.S. budgets that have allocated $700 billion to the military and the recent tax “reform” that allocated billions more to the wealthy and corporations and will withdraw health care support for millions of citizens. Also similar is the Trump administration’s push to privatize public schools.

The only difference seems to be that Iran’s moves were secret, while ours are openly displayed to the public and are created and implemented by people we voted into office. So far, the U.S. public has limply accepted these assaults in exchange for a temporary sop to the middle class that isn’t likely to affect the personal budgets of many people. When will we rise in the streets like the Iranians are doing?

Howard Wilshire


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Donald J. Trump is not going anywhere, except to presidential functions, Air Force One flights, meetings, golf outings, state dinners and the usual activities for the American Chief Executive.

Should the Democrats sweep the mid-term election, which I doubt, but anything can happen, and the machinery is somehow engaged in 2019 for removal action via the 25th Amendment or impeachment with a conviction (as I recall Bill Clinton was impeached for his Celebrity Perv actions and lying about it but didn’t get convicted;) WATCH OUT!

The Noo Yawk City brawler will come right off of his Marine General restraining leash and go for the jugular of his enemies. NO fooling around.

Jeff Sessions should be long gone by the middle of 2018, and the fire and fury will be a Department of Justice that will be mobilized. It will be used as a wrecking ball against all the redoubts of his enemies: the Left, Democrats, and most of all the seemingly untouchable Clintons with their entire retinue starting with Abedin and Wasserman Shultz and ending with the pantsuited Queen of Cackle herself.

The Bannon and Wolf books are just the right publications to start a fresh outbreak of 21st century American biblioclasm.

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by Jim Luther

Hunter Liggett Military Reservation, Monterey County, January 1961:

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon and there weren’t any officers in camp. Corporal Stafford, Regular Army, came out of his tent and blew his whistle and we all kind of straggled into formation. He told us we needed to get our asses in gear and that he was going to have us do guerrilla exercises and we all groaned. He got loud and said he really didn’t care if it was Sunday, that there weren’t any officers in camp and he could do anything he liked with us.

He marched us up to the pasture, got us all into a big circle and started us moving, first the frog jump, then the hand-kick walk, then the duck waddle, and we goofed around and laughed at each other. He got loud again and said that RFA people were no damn good. He tried to keep us in the duck waddle but we stood up whenever we felt like it. He said we should at least try, we were getting out in a few weeks, and then somebody gave him the finger and that got him really pissed off and he yelled out that six-months people were useless as tits on a boar. We laughed at him and agreed with him, and he looked like he might cry. He asked us if we wanted to double-time and we said Hell Yes.

(RFA: Reserve Forces Act of 1955. Because of official concern that too many draft-eligible men were able to avoid active duty military service by joining the National Guard and Army Reserve, the Act had been amended in 1957 to require all National Guardsmen and Reservists to participate in a mandatory six-month active duty training program.)

He ran us down to the river bank and along the narrow paths through the trees. Somebody started going “RFA, all the way,” in airborne cadence and we all picked it up. Stafford was trotting out in front of us, and we all began to run a little faster. “RFA, all the way, RFA, all the way!” jacking up the pace some more, starting to get really moving, those of us in front beginning to crowd him and actually push him down the path, and everybody going “RFA, all the way! RFA, all the way!” even the guys with dysentery. “RFA! ALL THE WAY! RFA! ALL THE WAY!” a solid phalanx, the whole platoon. He tried to get out of our way by turning up onto a new path and kept pushing back at us with his elbows but we were right there, right behind him, almost sprinting now, even the guys with dysentery, and we stayed right on him and shoved him all the way back into camp.

There we stopped, all of us laughing and out of breath, without his telling us to. He didn’t even bother to dismiss us from formation or even look at us, just skulked off into his tent.

It was great.

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To the settlers’ dismay, soon after the 1763 Treaty of Paris was signed, King George III issued a proclamation prohibiting British settlement west of the Allegheny-Appalachian mountain chain, ordering those who had settled there to relinquish their claims and return to the kingdom’s 13 colonies. Soon it became clear that the British authorities needed far more soldiers to enforce the edict, as thousands of settlers ignored it and continued to pour over the mountains, squatting on Indigenous lands, forming armed militias, and provoking Indigenous resistance. In 1765, in order to enforce the Proclamation line, the British Parliament imposed the Stamp Act on the colonists, a tax on all printed materials that had to be paid in British pounds, not local paper money. The iconic colonial protest slogan “taxation without representation is tyranny” marked the surge of rebellion against British control, but it did not tell the whole story, considering what the tax was for: to pay the cost of housing, feeding, and transporting soldiers to contain and suppress the colonies from expanding further into Indian territory. The complaints iterated in the Declaration largely focus on the measures used by King George to prevent his rebellious subjects from grabbing more land…

The wealthy slavers of the Southern colonies, particularly those in Virginia, were most incensed by the British Proclamation following the French and Indian War prohibiting expansion over the Appalachian ridge, since their wealth relied on accessing more and more land as they depleted the soils with intensive mono-crop production for the market. They defied the Proclamation, taking survey teams into the Ohio country to map the territory for future settlement, which by definition meant the extension and expansion of slavery. By the time he was in his mid-twenties, George Washington was already a notoriously successful slaver and land speculator in un-ceded Indian lands. Washington and the other founders of the United States designed a governmental and economic structure to serve the private property interests of each and all of the primary actors, nearly all of them slavers and land speculators, with the brilliant Alexander Hamilton as the genius of finance. Like the Indian-killing militias that continued and intensified as the United States appropriated more land for slavers, slave patrols grew accordingly. The ethnic cleansing of Native Americans complete, slavers—with their reserve of capital and enslaved labor—transformed the Mississippi Valley into the Cotton Kingdom that formed the basis for US capitalism and world trade. In the words of Harvard historian Walter Johnson: “The extension of slavery into the Mississippi Valley gave an institution that was in decline at the end of the eighteenth century new life in the nineteenth. In 1800, there were around 100,000 slaves living within the boundaries of the present-day states of Mississippi and Louisiana; in 1840, there were more than 250,000; in 1860, more than 750,000.”

The militaristic-capitalist powerhouse that the United States became by 1840 derived from real estate (which included enslaved Africans, as well as appropriated land). The United States was founded as a capitalist state and an empire on conquered land, with capital in the form of slaves, hence the term chattel slavery; this was exceptional in the world and has remained exceptional. The capitalist firearms industry was among the first successful modern corporations. Gun proliferation and gun violence today are among its legacies.

— Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

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by Anne Fashauer

I’m writing today from South Lake Tahoe, having been in Reno and Virginia City. We’re here for a week, hoping to do some skiing despite the low snowfall. We’ll check out the man-made snow later today.


We drove up to Reno early on Saturday in order to attend the wedding of some friends there. The reception was from 2:30pm to 6:30pm, fun but a bit long; at that point, those interested could go to a no-host dinner. The good thing about the length was getting to know other people at the event, given that we knew no one except the newlyweds.

Virginia City

We enjoyed a long (2.5 hour) breakfast with the newlyweds and some of their friends on Sunday morning, then we headed for Virginia City. I was last there as a little girl, visiting with my parents. I was so little, my memories are pretty vague, but it is still a very quaint western town. We drove around a bit, then stopped at the Opera House and went into the Corner Bar; we shared a Guinness and visited with the bar-matron and another patron and were given some tips on what to see. Between it being January and a Sunday, not everything was open, but we found enough to satisfy.

After our shared beer, we drove over to the cemetery and walked around there for a bit. It is a very large cemetery and we only saw a small portion. It was a different experience to walk among the spread-out graves and have to dodge wild horse droppings! From the cemetery we drove back onto the main street, C Street, and parked and ventured into the museum. It’s not large, but chock full and the admission, $3 per person, is a steal. We spent some time there looking at all sorts of artifacts and watching a couple of films; the films are informative if dated (Merlin Olsen is one of the narrators).

We then proceeded to be more touristy and walked up C Street to check out the shops, old-timey photo places (at least four) and bars (I lost count). One of the places suggested was a particular bar, The Silver Queen. On the wall hangs a huge “painting” of the with a dress made up of actual silver dollars. Also, according to the bartender, it boasts the world’s tallest bar back and a small wedding chapel in the rear. We shared another beer, Stella this time, before walking on up the street.

We window shopped until the top of the street, where we entered a very fun antique store; the owner, an elderly woman, is assisted by her son; nothing is priced and God help him when she’s gone – everything is in her head and I cannot even imagine how much stuff is in that store and hence, in that head. Heading down the hill on the other side of the street we started back to the car. At a candy shop we purchased a pound of mixed candies – you know the kind, with barrels of all sorts of candies and you grab a handful of this and that.

We left Virginia City around 3:30pm and drove to South Lake Tahoe; we checked in to our room (a one bedroom with a small living room and even smaller kitchen) and settled in. Still not very hungry from the large breakfast I made us a large salad and we watched a movie before retiring for the evening. We are getting ready for the day ahead now and I’ll report more later.

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by James Kunstler

Am I imagining that Oprah Winfrey launched her presidential campaign last night at the Golden Globes Awards? Well, why not? Unlike the Golden Golem of Greatness, skulking fiery and furious in his lonesome White House tweet chamber, Americans of all identity persuasions love Oprah. Unlike the president, who attained “stable [for now] genius” status without ever reading a book, Oprah displays real curiosity about this vexing and wondrous world, and an eagerness to engage with it. Unlike the maestro of the janky Trump brand, with his penchant for serial bankruptcy and stiffing the help, Oprah appears capable of running a business empire.

Let’s face it: the Democratic Party has no other figure of gravitas on the bench. Everybody trusts Oprah, probably even more than the erstwhile Barack Obama, with his dogged allegiance to Wall Street and his fifty percent taint of innate white male cis-hetero patriarchical depravity. Oprah might be the Democratic Party’s last best hope before it collapses into the mausoleum of US political history, where the Whigs, Free Soilers, and Anti-Federalists lie a’moldering.

Politics in this land has failed in its effort to become show business, while show business is succeeding wildly in its attempt to replace politics. All Washington can produce these days is a succession of tedious irresolvable soap operas. Hollywood is enacting a grand moral drama of clear-cut heroines and villains, victims and oppressors, sticking to archetypal story-line of our lifetime: the campaign for freedom, equality, and decency. Show business loves the desert sunshine; politics is mired in the Potomac swamp. Oprah even has better hair than the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Oprah herself is an object lesson in the social and political themes that America dares not talk about: a person of humble origins who succeeded wildly in American life by signing onto a once-sturdy and now-fading common culture. In fact, Oprah probably embodies all that remains of American common culture, and the multitudes adore her for it. They are reassured to know that the binding verities still exist. She moves in a realm where blackness and whiteness are emphatically irrelevant — which is surely a relief to people of good will who are sick of race-hustling from all quarters. Though she has credibly acted plenty of sharecropper roles in the movies, Oprah speaks English beautifully and doesn’t apologize for moving up from the ghetto patois of her rough childhood. She may not write all her own material — such as Sunday’s Golden Globes speech that may live on like MLK’s I Have a Dream oration — but she delivers her message with conviction. And who knows, maybe she did compose all or part of it.

One upshot of this is that Oprah might be capable of squaring the circle of America’s black-white racial quandary, which Mr. Obama could not accomplish: namely, restoring the idea that we have more in common as countrymen (countrypersons?) than the artificial barriers of the cultural Marxists falsely insinuate; that skin color, ethnic origin, religious order, and gender do not define adequately what we can be in the world, and maybe we would be better off putting those things aside and just work earnestly to bring out the best in ourselves without excuses..

This country is dying to put its house order. I daresay this is true of the great majority including the immiserated flyover folks who got snookered by Mr. Trump, and the big city hipsters who are coming into their years of power in the awful dimming of American prospects, and maybe even some of the suits in the corporate C-suits who still possess tattered memories of high school civics. I’m not promoting Oprah for president, but just you watch: somebody will. It is going to happen. The country faces enormous problems and predicaments, and the one-man soap opera at the center of it all is doing nothing but sucking all of the oxygen out of the room, leaving everybody else to choke and strangle.

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

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If you've not seen this already, I thought you'd appreciate it.  It's from p. 128 of Alistair Cooke's 'Six Men,' writing about Adlai Stevenson's running against Eisenhower (twice) for Prexy of the US and losing, and losing. Dems may not be the only major Party that does this, but they do get the bleeding goddam medal...

"Eisenhower did not have to pretend to be the quintessential American, of which Stevenson would be required to go on giving such an amateur theatrical parody, Eisenhower was the thing itself. It was another and enlightening example of the dependable fatuity of public relations experts when confronted by defeat: instead of taking a cool second look at the elements of a client's character that might arouse a new appeal, they begin to invent and rejig an "image" as close as possible to the one that seems to be working for the opposition."

Aloha, Mr. Ed., plus best regards for yourself and the crew and your yeoman, consistent work over decades. I won't even try to imagine where we'd be if we — collectively, in significant numbers — didn't have access to the kinds of Journalism y'all still practice around the thundering little AVA.

Thanks, again, a lot.

Rick Weddle

Honoka’a, Hawaii

* * *


The blistering new insider account of the White House offers hope that Trump's is just a worse version of a species of presidency we've survived before

by Matt Taibbi

Most of the world seems to have concluded that the lunatic chaos described in Fire and Fury, the "bombshell" new book about the Trump White House by Michael Wolff, foretells the end of civilization.

The book certainly doesn't seem like good news. Wolff tells us our president is probably a neurotic illiterate, incapable of focus beyond a few seconds, and thought of as a deranged simpleton by even his most trusted advisors.

The excerpt in New York Magazine describes an idiot who didn't expect to win and spends his evenings locked in the White House bedroom wolfing down cheeseburgers – Trump reportedly has a Woody Allen-esque phobia about being poisoned and therefore loves the wholesome safety of premade McDonald's – while watching news about himself and descending into fugue states of rage and self-pity.

Pretty much any hack novelist writing an imagined account of what Trump's daily routine is like could have penned that exact same scene. (I might have put the cheeseburger in one hand and a hyper-smudged mobile device, for counter-tweeting purposes, in the other.)

The eerie literary accuracy of such accounts is probably why journalists spent much of Thursday debating the provenance of Wolff's information. Was it all true? Exaggerated? Stuff whispered in confidence?

Others questioned the validity of the account on the basis that the representation of Trump was so horrifically moronic, it couldn't possibly be real.

Donald Jr. objected to Wolff's claim that Trump, when pushed by Roger Ailes to name former House Speaker John Boehner Chief of Staff, replied, "Who's that?"

"Just another pathetic attempt to smear ‪@realDonaldTrump ‪#fakenews," Trump's large adult son tweeted.

And it's true: Boehner and Trump went golfing together in 2013. Trump even said then, out loud, "I like John Boehner a lot." He also reportedly donated $100,000 to a Boehner-linked PAC. So, many say, it is impossible that Trump wouldn't remember who Boehner was.

Absurd! As anyone who covered Trump in the 2016 race knows, the man's brain is an ooze of fast-disintegrating neurons. Moreover, he has a long and storied history of forgetting stuff he only just said, and people he only just met.

The weirdest case came when Trump appeared to genuinely forget he'd spent much of the home stretch of the Republican primary campaign promising not to let the Indiana-based HVAC company Carrier move jobs to Mexico. He spent four months on the trail babbling promises about Carrier.

After the election, he balked at the idea he'd ever made such promises.

"I made it for everybody else. I didn't make it really for Carrier," he said.

This could easily have just been Trump cynically backtracking on a campaign promise, but it's hard to say. He often appears genuinely befuddled when challenged with earlier statements.

A much-decried incident in which Trump spoke about his wife Melania's feelings about Hurricane Irma as though she were not, in fact, standing right next to him, has usually been interpreted as Trump just being an insensitive goon treating his wife like a mannequin.

But the explanation of him genuinely forgetting she was two feet away also fits, if you watch the man enough. He is completely capable of just mistaking her for a thin person in a hat.

Trump often stares out at crowds like he has no idea where he is or how he got there, or like he's looking at a room full of scary aliens, à la Rowdy Roddy Piper in They Live.

So I completely buy the idea that Trump could not only have forgotten who John Boehner is, but forgotten golfing with him, and doing whatever else they did after – whipping each other with towels in the club room, etc.

This also could easily be a Far Out Space Nuts situation where Trump heard Ailes say "Boehner," when Trump thought the name was pronounced "Boner."

A detail I hope is true involves a purported insider description of Trump's scalp by Ivanka:

"[It is] an absolutely clean pate — a contained island after scalp-reduction surgery — surrounded by a furry circle of hair around the sides and front, from which all ends are drawn up to meet in the center and then swept back and secured by a stiffening spray. The color, she would point out to comical effect, was from a product called Just for Men — the longer it was left on, the darker it got. Impatience resulted in Trump's orange-blond hair color."

If the NSA is worth its budget, it ought to be able to produce a satellite photo of that "furry circle of hair," then use it to frighten spies into giving up their handlers. Humorously, in this telling, even Trump's hair color testifies to his debilitating lack of attention span.

The depiction of Trump as a mental incompetent who couldn't sit through even the beginning of a lesson on the Constitution ("I got as far as the Fourth Amendment... before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back," Wolff quotes Sam Nunberg as saying) rings painfully true.

So, too, does the description aides in the book use to describe the worst of Trump's moods, a thing called his "golf face." According to Wolff, he wore this expression the whole day of his inauguration, fuming over the absence of A-listers and other outrages: he was "angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed."

Wolff basically describes Trump as a deficient buffoon who, when it comes to politics anyway, is totally out of his element, mistaking fake ardor for the real thing, constantly demanding fealty from Congress, the business world and staff:

"He was like an instinctive, pampered, and hugely successful actor. Everybody was either a lackey who did his bidding or a high-ranking film functionary trying to coax out his performance — without making him angry or petulant."

Wolff writes Team Trump was really hoping to "almost win" the presidency as part of a PR-driven business move, only to be horrified by the reality of securing a hugely demanding government job:

"Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary... Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn't become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning.

"On Election Night, when the unexpected trend — Trump might actually win — seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears — and not of joy."

When Trump first announced his run, the consensus in the press corps was that the last thing he wanted was to actually be president. This was a man who spent his life golfing, pigging out and skeeving his way backstage in beauty contests. No one could imagine him volunteering for a life where he couldn't skip meetings with the Joint Chiefs, or the head of OPIC.

Now he is president, though, and, this being a new year, it's worth looking at the possible bright side of Wolff's account. Trump appears to be so far gone as to have no attention span at all, and to be totally consumed with press coverage of himself, almost to the exclusion of all else. This perhaps caps the irreversibly destructive consequences of his presidency.

That is not to say that horrible things haven't and won't continue to emanate from the Trump White House. (Just look at the recent heightened use of drone strikes, for example.)

But it's hard to imagine Trump focusing long enough to enact a plan as destructive as, say, the invasion of Iraq. Moreover, his confederates – especially now that Steve Bannon is out – seem mostly concerned with keeping the boss away from the real power of his office, almost like parents trying to steer a two-year-old away from the gas range.

America has been here before, piloted by mentally adrift presidents. Bob Woodward's Veil described how the CIA had to produce movies about foreign leaders because Ronald Reagan couldn't take in information (like who the heck Hosni Mubarak was) any other way:

"Since Reagan did not read many novels but watched movies, the CIA began to produce profiles of leaders that could be shown to the President... One was of the new Egyptian President. 'SECRET NOFORN' flashed on the screen as the narrator began, 'This is Hosni Mubarak...'"

George W. Bush was a similar figure. He spent much of his first presidential campaign lugging around a biography of Dean Acheson in a widely derided effort to convince the press corps he read books.

Bush in office openly admitted to not reading newspapers, relaying with surfer-dude insouciance that instead he got briefings from people who did. He was genuinely proud of knowing nothing.

We survived episodes like that, and a few others. (There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, that James Buchanan bought a ten-gallon jug of whiskey every week.)

Trump by most accounts is worst of all, and the horror effect is enhanced by the seemingly total absence of redeeming qualities in his personality. But a guy who fell backwards into the presidency and has been too brain-hampered upon arrival to do much with the office – there are worse narratives.

Just remember, Trump could be cunning, focused and bursting with willpower, in addition to being a gross, ignorant pig. We can only hope that Wolff is right that he isn't both.


* * *

“THIS TRUMP THING,” or as it had been known previously for nearly 250 years up until now: The US Presidency. At the dawn of 2017, many Democrats expected the new president to veer to the center. He has instead leaped back and forth across the main fissure in his own party: dividing the establishment right, represented by Republican leaders in Congress, to whom he outsourced health care and tax reform, and the populist right, to whom he has thrown red-meat rhetoric and occasional action to constrain trade and immigration. The result has been underwhelming, yet divisive in a nation that is becoming increasingly at odds with itself. A controversial tax reform, which promises to simplify the business code but swell the deficit, is Mr Trump’s only major legislative achievement. He has made more progress on deregulation — but as this includes efforts to dismantle necessary environmental rules, many folks are greatly alarmed. A stream of scandals, intrigues and incendiary tweets has meanwhile cast doubt on Mr. Trump’s competence and fitness for his office. With America’s foreign policy increasingly dominated by the possibility of conflict with nuclear-armed North Korea, that is worrying.

— Steve Sparks

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(Click to enlarge)

(Photo by Harvey Reading)

* * *


The next two Sundays January 14 and 21 from 2-4pm at Dragonfly Wellness 17851 N HWY 1 Fort Bragg Across from Steve's Auto Body Parking around the side. Learn more about your favorite mushrooms, particularly their medicinal and nutritional aspects, as well as how to forage for them. All classes at Dragonfly are free but, donations are appreciated. We hope to see you there.

Lisa Matthews <>

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The Mendocino County Planning Commission meeting Agenda for January 18, 2018, is posted on the department website at:

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It sure seems as though the the financial house of cards is poised to crater in 2018, but it has felt that way for a decade or so and they somehow keep the rackets running. Of course, I see more and more homeless people begging at street corners each month. I can’t imagine what it’s going to look like this summer at the major intersections as the beggars crowd each other for the prime spots. Their long emergency is already underway.

Looking beyond the financial realm, 2018 looks to usher in an era of less civility across the spectrum. Less courtesy. Less decency. More “in your face” uninformed opinions being expressed. More across the board doubling down on stupid, even when confronted with contrary facts, which used to be the exclusive domain of whack-a-loon conservatives. It’ll move to the mainstream. More proud ignorance. More hope trampled. More general awfulness across the board. So, while we may see other aspects of life lean down, there will be an abundance of the awful to fill the void. Just my guesses. The months ahead will tell the story.

* * *

“Three Billboards Outside Washington, D.C.”

* * *


The Economic Development and Financing Corporation will start the new year with a new Executive Director. Heather Gurewitz will lead the organization as it continues its mission to “Connect money and ideas with entrepreneurs to create sustainable prosperity in Lake & Mendocino Counties.”

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to help grow our economy and support local businesses. There’s a lot of great work happening in this county and I look forward to working together to build a strong economic future,” says Gurewitz.

Gurewitz comes to EDFC with a background in community-based economic development. Currently the Mendocino County Field Representative for Congressman Jared Huffman, Gurewitz came to Mendocino County in 2009 to work for West Company where she served as the Women’s Business Center Director. She has also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras and as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the Northeast Oregon Economic Development District.

Gurewitz (r) presenting service award to Val Muchowski at KZYX function

While Gurewitz comes with a range of experience and credentials, it is her passion for economic development that brings her to EDFC. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I was in the Peace Corps in 2004. As a municipal development volunteer, I worked with a community to develop a strategic plan. At the end of the process it was clear that without economic growth nothing else was likely to change. That experience inspired me to earn a Masters Degree in Community and Regional Planning with a focus on economic development. Since then I have been really fortunate to learn about and participate in the implementation of economic development strategies in several communities,” says Gurewitz.

Gurewitz will begin her new position at the end of January. To find out more about the Economic Development & Financing Corporation visit or call 707-234-5705.

Diann Simmons, Program Director, Economic Development & Financing Corp.

A 501(c)3 Community Development Financial Institution

175 E. Church St., Ukiah CA 95482


    • Harvey Reading January 9, 2018

      I suspect you’ve already read her An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. If not, I recommend it.

      • LouisBedrock January 9, 2018

        I have not read it but will on your recommendation.
        Thank you, Harvey.

  1. Dave Smith January 9, 2018

    PG&E should be socialized for the common good.

    • Lazarus January 9, 2018

      Isn’t that what Russia does with utilities…?
      As always,

      • Harvey Reading January 9, 2018

        Sacramento did, long ago. SMUD provided the best and most dependable electrical service I ever had. Outages were very rare.

        • Lazarus January 9, 2018

          That’s good to know, I see other municipalities have done it also. It seems to work.
          As always,

  2. james marmon January 9, 2018

    Good luck California

    California AG Threatens to File 25th Lawsuit Against Trump — over Marijuana

    “Becerra’s lawsuits are usually aimed at maintaining the state’s spectacular federal cash flow. With a population of 39.25 million, including 10 million immigrants, California gamed Obamacare and immigration enforcement to spike Medicaid enrollment to 13,465,532, or 34 percent of state’s population, according to Medicaid’s website. Despite having less than 12 percent of the nation’s population, California pocketed 19.6 percent of all Medicaid cash. That equaled $110.838 billion in 2016 and could hit $150 billion by 2020.”

    • Harvey Reading January 9, 2018

      What would you expect? Medicaid recipients aren’t likely to or expected to seek health care out of state.

      Just where does this so-called gaming come in? Kindly provide valid details, backed up with figures, not trash from

      And just how much do Californians pay IN to the federal government each year? Hint: it is far, far more than the state gets back. California is one of those states that subsidizes the more backward states with relatively small populations, and residents of those states get back far more than they pay in.

      Details, my man, details.

  3. Harvey Reading January 9, 2018


    The state should take over all three of the greedy utilities and make them truly public utilities. No one except the higher-ups would be fired. The main difference would be that rank-and-file workers would be public employees. The electricity would still light your lamps, and probably for less than it costs you now.

  4. Harvey Reading January 9, 2018

    Re: “When will we rise in the streets like the Iranians are doing?”

    Good question. We may just be too damned dumb and too susceptible to the propaganda we read and hear each day. Turn off your phones, turn off your radios and TVs, and cancel corporate newspaper subscription. You’ve got a brain. Use it … or continue being slaves to the wealthy.

  5. Bill Pilgrim January 9, 2018

    re: Kunstler.

    Oh no! Not another O.!

    A very good friend of mine, an interior designer who often works in top tier economic spheres, had this to say: “I travel in circles of clients who know her well…And they all say she is HIDEOUS! …Spoiled, entitled, autocratic, obnoxious, and insulting.”

    We don’t need another phony celebrity brand!

    • Mike Kalantarian January 9, 2018

      Judge Judy for AG!

    • George Hollister January 9, 2018

      “And they all say she is HIDEOUS! …Spoiled, entitled, autocratic, obnoxious, and insulting.”

      Someone with that exact profile took a majority of the vote in the last presidential election.

      • Harvey Reading January 9, 2018

        George, whether you mean the popular vote or the electoral college selection “vote”, I agree with you on this one.

  6. Jim Updegraff January 9, 2018

    Of the Salvadorans Trump wants to kick out of the country 50,000 are in California.
    Also, as would be obvious many of these people have children born in this country and are U. S. citizens. So what happens to these children? Another problem what happens if El Salvador refuses to accept the deportees? As usual the Village Idiot makes a decision without thinking it through.

    • George Hollister January 9, 2018

      What trump is doing is following the law. And the result is Congress needs to act. Immigration Reform has bipartisan opposition in Congress, and has for a long time been a political football. With what Trump is doing, something might actually happen.

      I think most people can agree on “the wall”(border security, a guest worker program, DACA considerations, throwing out immigrants who break the law, and now considerations for temporary residents.

      Trump might be the one to finally make an immigration reform deal that has eluded us for too long. Who could have imagined? He is going to have to let the Democrats take credit for it, though. With his ego, that will be tough.

      • Harvey Reading January 9, 2018

        Don’t count on it George. I believe you will find that most people, even in border states, find the wall notion ridiculous. As Jim Updegraff states, if Trump and congress are stupid enough to get away with building it, the results will prove it ineffective, a total waste of money, not mention being an ecological nightmare for species besides us monkeys. What the wall really represents is racism and bigotry, which is so ridiculous in a nation descended from immigrants.

        The future of this country looks bleaker and bleaker with each passing day.

  7. Harvey Reading January 9, 2018

    “Everybody trusts Oprah”

    I don’t.

    Never watched her show, even once.

    • LouisBedrock January 9, 2018

      I have.
      She and her entire audience–in studio and at home, should be put to death.

      • Jeff Costello January 9, 2018

        She can’t decide what to eat and so goes on fad diets, promotes them and then quits and gets fat again. Obama was well spoken, but Oprah speaks only to emotions. Trump speaks poorly and to bad emotions. This makes Hillary look pretty sensible.

        • LouisBedrock January 9, 2018

          I usually agree with you, Jeff.
          I was half joking about Oprah and her disgusting audience.
          Hillary, however, I would like to see dead.
          Her husband too.

          • Jeff Costello January 9, 2018

            I only meant by comparison, when she speaks. I did not vote this time and usually don’t, except for McGovern against Nixon, and for Kerry against W Bush, and then only because I was bribed with a computer.

          • George Hollister January 9, 2018

            The Clintons are de facto dead. Trump did that.

            • Harvey Reading January 9, 2018

              Don’t count on it George. Democwaps are no longer known for having good sense. In fact they seem to be improving their skill in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory…

      • Harvey Reading January 9, 2018

        Thanks, Louis. I needed a late-afternoon laugh.

  8. Jim Updegraff January 9, 2018

    As far as the wall goes it needs to be remembered the biggest problem is people who over stay their visas. The wall isn’t go stop people crossing the border – they will go around it, over it or under it. A waste of $18 billion. Just one more stupid action by Trump.

    • George Hollister January 9, 2018

      How about take one deal at a time? (Trump might even have this figured out, though assuming this is questionable.)

      Trade DACA for “the wall”, then go from there. Then maybe tackle the visa issue in conjunction with a guest worker program, and legal intolerance for foreigners who come here and break the law? Throw them out. The Sanctuary City business could be dealt with somewhere here as well.

      What Trump did having Congressional leaders discussing the issues in front of the press was a good idea. A lot of this stuff should be out in the open, particularly on immigration reform.

  9. james marmon January 9, 2018

    Don’t even try to tell me that the Cartels are not here in Lake and Mendocino Counties, because they are, and they are thriving.
    Involved in the legal pot industry.

  10. Debra Keipp January 9, 2018

    Nonsense! Mountain View Rd. has gone unfixed for so long, it’s become impossible for even “The Coach” to drive!!! (Warren G.!)

    Supervisors give themselves a 40% raise at the end-o-world, fleecing their fair share of bucks out of a dying government.

    What a crock!!!!!

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