- Jerry Cox
- Rocket Search
- Board Certified
- Dennis Peron
- Little Dog
- Transgender Hullabaloo
- Housing Ideas
- Lion Proofing
- Still Married
- Politicians & Taxes
- Dangerous Artists
- Locked Up
- Yesterday's Catch
- Battle Mountain
- Fire Night
- American Collapse
- Real ID
- Postal Hippies
- Trump Perseveres
- Rigged Election
JERRY COX, FOUNDER OF SANTA ROSA’S RESURRECTION CHURCH, CHAMPION FOR LATINO COMMUNITY, DIES AT 92
Jerry Cox, a former Catholic priest and founder of Resurrection Church in Santa Rosa who championed the welfare of local Latinos and later left the priesthood to marry a former nun who stole his heart, died of pneumonia Thursday surrounded by friends and family. He was 92.
Cox’s life was deeply influenced by both his Irish heritage and his activism for people of Mexican descent, a heritage and calling reflected in the title of his memoir, “Shamrocks & Salsa.”
“He was delightful,” said Rev. David Shaw, the current pastor of Resurrection Church on Stony Point Road. “He told great stories, he was a great character, but he also had this depth of spirit.”
Born May 30, 1925, Gerald F. Cox was the second oldest of seven children in an Irish Catholic family from Oakland. He entered the seminary as a high school freshman and was ordained by age 26.
He honed his Spanish language skills working with the Latino community in Oakland. After receiving his master’s degree in social work from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., he returned to the Bay Area and served as assistant director of Hanna Boys Center in Sonoma Valley and later as chancellor of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, where he became active in local Spanish-speaking communities.
For a period he was the only Spanish speaking priest in the diocese, which stretches to the Oregon border.
Around 1967, Cox co-founded the California Human Development Corporation, a Santa Rosa- based nonprofit which assists local low-income and minority residents.
The same year, he became founding pastor of Resurrection Church, which was intended to serve a largely Latino population without a clear parish at the time. The church in west Santa Rosa continues to be a major community hub for Spanish-speaking residents of the city.
“He had a very deep sense of social work and social responsibility,” Shaw said.
His life and career were soon altered with the arrival at the new parish of a young nun 20 years his junior.
“He used to tell people ‘In 1968, I had a heart attack and her name was Kathy Synder,’ ” said his wife, the former nun, speaking Saturday from their home in Boonville.
After three years at the new parish, Snyder left to join the Peace Corps in Honduras. When she returned, Cox had left the priesthood and they were married 1973.
They were a part of the United Farm Workers movement, and Cox organized and marched with labor leader Cesar Chavez.
The pair had two daughters and in 1983 moved the family to Navarro in the Anderson Valley. They bought the Floodgate Store, selling sandwiches and beer to locals and loggers, but it was “just a disaster in terms of finances,” Kathy Cox said.
They turned the small store into a café for a few years, and later were briefly investors in the Boonville Hotel.
But Cox eventually returned to his calling of helping others. He became the director of Indian Creek Ranch, a teenage drug and alcohol residential treatment center, and executive director of Nuestra Casa, a Latino-focused social service organization in Ukiah.
Later, after the couple spent four years living in Hong Kong, Cox became a bilingual counselor to students in the Anderson Valley School District, a job he loved and held until he was 85.
He was recently hospitalized, and when it was clear he was ailing and had little time left, the family moved him home, where a steady stream of well-wishers visited. On Thursday, as he was fading, a group of the faithful gathered at his bedside and sang the rosary to him in Spanish.
It seemed to soothe him, and toward the end of the prayer, he quietly stopped breathing, his wife said.
“It was just the perfect way for him to go,” Kathy Cox said. “He lived a real full life on his terms. What more can you ask for?”
In addition to his wife, Cox is survived by his daughters, Rebekah Rocha of Windsor, who is the principal of Cesar Chavez Language Academy, and Mary Anne Cox of Ukiah.
A funeral is scheduled Friday at Resurrection Church, with an Irish wake to follow, and a celebration of life in Boonville later.
(Kevin McCallum, Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT is looking for Robert 'Rocket' Vargas Jr. It is alleged that last night (Friday, 26 January), at the Company Ranch east of Fort Bragg, Vargas assaulted a young woman and her father, both of whom were seriously injured.
Apart from assaulting the father, an older man recovering from shoulder surgery, Vargas also tried to run over the man and then deliberately rammed the father's truck more than once. Vargas has two previous convictions for domestic assault. The attacks on father and daughter so alarmed law enforcement that they received a midnight protective order prohibiting Vargas from contacting either father or daughter.
‘BOARD CERTIFIED’ & BOARD CHAIRS
by Malcolm Macdonald
At a November, 2017, Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) Board meeting, the Medical Staff Manager made a statement that included the claim that the hospital's physicians “are 100% board certified.” A few moments later he forcefully repeated the assertion.
This is a matter that requires distinction. The Medical Board of California recognizes the licenses of all the doctors practicing at MCDH. All of those physicians appear to be practicing legally, but they are not all board certified by the Medical Board of California, the governing body for such recognition. For example, board member Dr. Kevin Miller is, as one would expect, board certified by the American Board of Medicine (or ABM) in Ophthalmology; fellow board member, Dr. Lucas Campos is board certified by ABM in Pain Medicine as well as Anesthesiology.
But this is not true of the entire staff. This writer examined the Medical Board of California documents for other physicians who work at MCDH. For at least one MCDH doctor the paperwork lists the expected areas of practice, but next to the category “Board Certifications,” the following word is: none.
So when the Medical Staff Manager stated, more than once, in front of an audience at a MCDH Board meeting, as well as those who watched on Mendocino TV, that all MCDH's physicians are “Board Certified,” that declaration was something akin to false advertising. This sort of false advertisement is not allowed under California's Business and Professional Code, Section 651, paragraphs (h)(5)(A) and (B).
Bob Edwards, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MCDH has just as forcefully backed up the claim of total board certification for the hospital's doctors. This article is not intended as a knock on any one physician's capabilities, it simply highlights one more in a series of false claims made by the head of administration at the hospital, evidenced by the federal lawsuit which cites as defendants: Edwards, the institution's former Chief Financial Officer (CFO), the President of the Board of Directors, and the hospital itself.
John Kermen, the head of the hospital's Medical Executive Committee (MEC) has noted publicly that all of the hospital's active physicians have been approved by MEC; however, the MEC standards are not as stringent as the Medical Board of California. Thus the term “board certified” when used in reference to a doctor in this state means that a physician has attained that designation through the Medical Board of California. Furthermore, the MEC, manager, and the CEO know what the term “board certified” means in California. When that “100% board certified” claim was made in November neither Kermen nor Edwards made any effort to clarify the comment. Nor did board president Steve Lund do anything to correct the statement. To the best of my knowledge the only MCDH Board member to address the November claim in a questioning manner was Dr. Peter Glusker.
At the hospital's finance committee meeting, held on January 23, interim CFO John Parigi told a small audience that it would take three to four years to turn MCDH's economic situation around. Plant Services Manager Nancy Schmid detailed ongoing capital maintenance projects that will cost the hospital about $1.8 million. Most of the money to pay for these mandatory updates will come from a $1.5 million dollar loan from the state's HELP II program (essentially the last ditch loan an institution can get from public coffers).
Readers, no doubt, did the math and noted the $300,000 still remaining to pay off this bunch of capital maintenance projects (There are more on the horizon). Keep in mind MCDH is already paying penalties for not having an up to date electronic health record (EHR) system in place. The total cost for the EHR implementation could exceed $4 million. Because money is dear at MCDH, the hospital is most likely going to go forward with month by month payments on a lease program for EHR equipment, avoiding a lump sum payment.
Back to leadership problems: At that last finance committee meeting, the chair of the committee, Dr. Campos, returned to a faulty practice he had adopted early in 2017, but seemed to have stopped by last summer. That faulty practice concerned the Finance chair's forbidding public input on “Action” items during the committee's meetings.
Late last spring the MCDH Board received a reminder about California's Brown Act, in particular Government Code 54954.3(a), which states, “Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item of interest to the public, before or during the legislative body's consideration of the item…”
After that Dr. Campos seemed to have taken notice of the law and he did allow the public to comment, at the appropriate times, during “Action” agenda items. However, once the calendar flipped to 2018, Campos reverted to a belief that the public only speaks during the “Public Comment” section after all the “Action” items on the agenda have been voted on and concluded. Simple common sense would dictate that a committee chair would welcome input from the public whenever possible.
Given that Dr. Campos, as Finance Chair, has repeatedly flouted the Brown Act, it would not seem far-fetched to ask for his removal from chairing the committee, but he is scheduled to attend a Brown Act training seminar in February, so one can hope he will return from that with a renewed appreciation for public input. Why he wasn't directed toward Brown Act training a year ago is another question seemingly left unanswered by MCDH's top administration and its Board's leader.
Readers can see a June 21, 2017 AVA article for more on the attitude of Dr. Campos toward public input.
DENNIS PERON, ACTIVIST WHO HELPED LEGALIZE MEDICAL MARIJUANA, DIES
by Lizzie Johnson
Dennis Peron, an activist who helped legalize medical marijuana in California, died Saturday afternoon in a San Francisco hospital. He was 71.
Peron was a force behind a San Francisco ordinance allowing medical marijuana, a win that later helped propel the 1996 passage of Prop. 215, which legalized medical use for the entire state. A Vietnam War veteran, Peron spent some of the last years his life on a 20-acre farm in the rolling hills of Lake County, growing and giving away what he once sold: medical marijuana.
“A man that changed the world,” Jeffrey Peron wrote in a Facebook post, along with a photo of his brother — impish and good-looking — dressed in a gray suit and a blue striped tie. “This is the Dennis I want to remember.”
Throughout his long and checkered career, Peron was a gay activist, pot enthusiast and sometimes-vigilante at odds with the law. He was among the first to argue for the benefits of medicinal marijuana for AIDS patients as the health crisis overtook San Francisco. The epidemic also took his partner, Jonathan West, in 1990.
San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors recognized Peron, suffering with late-stage lung cancer, with a certificate of honor last year.
“The father of medical marijuana,” one supervisor called him in the meeting.
“I came to San Francisco to find love and to change the world,” Peron said in reply, leaning on his walker. “I found love, only to lose him through AIDS. We changed the world.”
But once, Peron was just a “gay kid from Long Island who joined the Air Force to get away from home,” as he described it in his 2012 book, “Memoirs of Dennis Peron.” He then moved to a commune in the Haight, where he befriended Supervisor Harvey Milk and began selling marijuana in the Castro.
In 1991, Peron founded the first public cannabis dispensary in the country — originally called the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club — during the height of the U.S. drug war.
He, along with “Brownie” Mary Rathbun, formed a resistance, doling out the herb to AIDS patients and shifting the public conversation about how it should be used. He was busted more than four times for illegally dealing the drug, spent time in jail and was once shot in the leg by a police officer. The club, which served 9,000 clients, was closed by a San Francisco Superior Court judge in 1998.
“The city and the country has lost a cannabis leader who lived life on the edge,” said Terrance Alan, a member of the city’s Cannabis Commission. “He lived his whole life on the edge, and that’s what allowed us to lead in cannabis. Not many people would have had the courage at the time that he took up the mantle.”
After the club was shut down, Peron moved to the country. He changed his business model and began providing living plants to patients. Eventually, after being diagnosed with lung cancer, he moved back to the Castro Castle, a former bed-and-breakfast he owned with his husband, John Entwistle.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Dog flu all over the Bay Area and these guys say stuff like, ‘Suck it up, LD. It's all in your head.’ Of course that flu is a hundred miles south, isn't it?”
FROM SUNDAY'S PRESS DEMOCRAT:
Lynda Bengtsson-Davis, a transgender Marine Corps veteran from Fort Bragg, will be seated in the House of Representatives visitors gallery Tuesday night for the biggest regular address in American politics — and her presence will be part of the politicking.
Bengtsson-Davis, whose bid to re-enlist in the Air National Guard has been stalled by President Donald Trump’s attempted ban on military service for transgender individuals, is the guest of North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman at Trump’s first State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress.
“I think he’s wrong,” Bengtsson-Davis said of the man she refers to as the commander-in-chief.
Transgender service “goes all the way back to the Revolutionary War,” she said, referring to Deborah Sampson, a Massachusetts woman who disguised herself as a man to serve in the Continental Army for 17 months.
Huffman, D-San Rafael, said he invited Bengtsson-Davis, the information technology manager for the city of Fort Bragg, to send Trump a message.
“There are real people out there who are hurt by his hateful rhetoric and actions,” he said.
“I wanted to serve my country like anyone else,” Bengtsson-Davis said.
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT'S COMMENT LINE LIT UP:
- LOL!!! A transgender loony will be the guest of Jared Huffman at the State of the Union address??? BWAAAAA!!! Just when you think Huffy has gone wacky enough, he pulls this lunacy out of his hat! And you lefties voted for this clown! Oh, man. My sides are aching. Keep the comedy coming, Jared! Mommy Pelosi must be so proud!
- Have to say, he seems a lot more mentally stable than you.
- "he" ??
- Of course you would say that. Legitimize lunacy and demonize normalcy - the lefty way, right?
- Is Melanoma going to attend or is she still pouting in Florida?
- A bunch of collectivists who want to burn down our republic because their anointed Dear Leader lost an election.
- "collectivist"? Joe Lovell, our resident fascist, got a new word to play with. LOL
- Is he talking about banks ? The ones too big to fail ? JP Morgan?
- He doesn't know; he doesn't care.
- Maybe a group hug ? Or a round of Kumbaya ?
- While I applaud Davis’ bid to re-enlist, I still will not agree with military policy if it allows transgender soldiers and won’t allow people with other conditions such as asthma, heart murmurs, and other health issues. Until they overhaul policy, being transgender should be what it is: another health condition that should disqualify you from deploying and serving. If you can’t deploy, why feel the need to join. Benefits maybe? And come on..transgender has been in since the Revolutionary War? Because a woman dressed up as a man?
- Those surgeries are free if your in the military.
- Even cheaper if an IED goes off under your Humvee...
- Someone please explain to me how wanting to remove one's schvantz is any different from wanting to remove one's arm or leg? It's called Body integrity identity disorder, it is a mental illness. Not saying it makes one a bad person, but let's not view it as heroic.
- Ah, our medics in this great state are not allowed, by law, to even consider the possibility that these people are mentally ill. Gubment has determined it's perfectly normal and anyone who disagrees may well be no longer allowed to practice here. Medicine by edict - that's wrong regardless of your position on the issue...
- That is a bit of a stretch. There are people who need psych help on both sides. And some who want to play the system. Logic and humanity will prevail.
- Keep up the good work President Trump.... Screw the liberal north coast.
HOW TO HOUSE
Almost everyone in Mendocino County knows that there is not enough affordable housing for rent or purchase. What is not agreed on are the solutions to this problem. Here are some ideas, listed in order of effectiveness which should be considered and then adopted by county government:
- Allow higher density on parcels larger than one acre. The current restriction of two dwelling units per parcel regardless of size severely limits the available land for development.
- Do not attempt to tax new structures and improvements as they are built. Land is assessed when it is purchased. Allow the purchaser to pay the same tax rate as long as they own the property. When they sell, any improvements will be added into the value of the property and the tax rate will go up for the next owner. This will make it less costly to own houses thereby lowering rents. It will also make people more inclined to pull building permits and lessen the workload for county staff at the assessor's office.
- Allow large parcels of flat developable land to be subdivided into smaller parcels.
- Reduce the permit fees on all new homes with a footprint of less than 1400 squre feet to a flat fee of $500.
- On the coast remove all acreage from the coastal zone that is not bluff top or restricting ocean access. This would not only save the citizens money it would reduce the workload on county staff and save tax dollars.
- Have the building department provide some preapproved plan sets for modest energy-efficient single-family residences. This could save the cost of design and engineering for many people.
Maintain the Class K permit option as an alternative to the Uniform Building Code which seems to get more expensive to follow every year.
These changes cannot be implemented by department heads or staff without clear direction from the Supervisors. The elected officials in this county must take responsibility for the housing crisis by creating policies that make it easier for their constituents to house themselves.
In this election year each candidate should tell us how they propose to address the lack of affordable housing. We need structural changes which go beyond the usual weak policies of public-private partnership and tax incentives for developers. Raising the sales tax, selling bonds, and doing studies will not solve this problem. We need to elect people who will consider and adopt ideas similar to those I have outlined above.
by William J. Hughes
My friend Fred works for the Mountain Lion Foundation. Can't have a foundation without mountain lions so we must be doing something right here in California.
Fred's official title has to do with legal and technical but he does a bit more than that: like advising and instructing ranch owners and many more with some land and animals that need protecting on how to construct and fence to prevent mountain lions from getting at a buffet of farm animals or fancy ones like llamas or alpacas in the Santa Monica mountains or the mountains of Santa Cruz or the hills outside of San Diego.
Fred estimates that there are perhaps 3000 mountain lions in California. Not bad for a civilization that doesn't care much for any predators.
Fred and his family will be with me in Yellowstone National Park. You know, wolves and all the outside-the-park commotion they cause.
Today Fred is on his way to Hopland, California for a demonstration on how to construct a proper fence pen defense against a mountain lion. I will accompany him.
Accompanying up I-5 north, farm fields, burnt gold California, Sutter buttes off in the haze, sacred mountains above these fruited plains and on through the whole foods to Williams for a belt-busting breakfast in a farm town right out of a Steinbeck paragraph, headed now towards Clearlake, leaving the valley floor and starting to twist on up away from the orchards and vines into the Merlin Woods, two lanes through the almost arbors of California oaks hung with moss, here and there a distant downhill glimpse of Clearlake. Hot.
Silence, very big time. Good old country comforts, red and gray barns, hay bales, horses, local turns, Mendocino County, a wooden sign for University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources. News to me and to you, I am thinking.
This is where Fred will construct his demonstration pen.
Now this Ag and Natural Resources is a magic place, hidden from view, hidden from anyone I've ever known knowing anything about it, tucked away in a Sherwood Forest like a real-life Camelot Faire where the Ag and the rest of the natural world come to know more, to appreciate, to develop, to render a helping hand, research and develop a better world, small unassuming houses scattered here and there.
Mountain lions on their agenda, thus the demonstration of the mountain lion protection for both the domesticated and the wild ones. We don't want any mountain lions being shot for being mountain lions.
Kimberly A. Rodrigues, Ph.D., Director of the Center, is there to greet us, all enthusiastic and all pride in her position, profession and the possibilities for the earth. She took part in the "timber wars" up this way in the 90s so all the old-growth forests didn't end up in the "tree museum." Also, Veronica, nature biologist, mountain lions, part of the Mountain Lion Foundation, here to assist in the chain link, horse wire, tarp over the horse wire enclosure. I and she worked in Yellowstone. Let the bond begin.
Construction begins on a flat piece of ground in the shade just outside the grand wooden meeting hall of native woods and dark native color, sheet metal roof, a Viking hall by John Muir.
I am all thumb stubs so I stay out of the way as the simple wire structure of screws and bolts and nuts takes shape, basically a box.
Another nature biologist joins us. She used to work in Yellowstone. I've lived and gone to another heaven.
Everyone here knows the AVA, almost neighbors. I tell them I am writing a piece on today for submission. Good pride all around.
The current demons of Trump’s EPA and Interior Department seem far distant from this outpost of doing the "right stuff" for all of us.
The two person crew work continues on and as I dawdle in the shade, holding the lantern and the pen while others chop the wood.
Then voila! A completed pen, like an open wired tuff shed in your own backyard if you happen to have animals you'd like to keep out of the jaws of a mountain lion, not to be the bogeyman but give the gorgeous predator its props.
Tomorrow the groups will arrive to study this aspect of the land and the wild.
Tomorrow I will be on my way to Yellowstone across Nevada and Fred with his family will be there next week for me to show around.
Around four in the afternoon now and a breeze through the trees has come up. And the enclosure is up, bare as can be but the best things in life continue to be our relation to the birds and the bees and the trees and the land and the beasts of the forest and the fields.
ROBBING PEOPLE TO PAY POLS
The County of Mendocino cannot patch or fix the roads or do anything else as far as county infrastructure goes. And they just gave themselves a $25,000 a year raise except for one gentleman who did not take it; he refused it. A good man. Where is our tax money going? Where is it spent? About 500 people should storm the Supervisors chambers the next time they have a meeting and demand an answer to find out what the hell is going on. I know we have to keep the Sheriff’s Department, but where is the rest of our tax money going? What I pay here is astronomical. What are we going to start taxing next? Lawnmowers? BBQ pits? Jerry Brown wants to do that. He wants to make you license your lawnmower and he doesn't want any more open barbecue pits because of so-called climate change.
Caltrans is responsible for the rotten condition of our roads and bridges, too. When you come to a bridge in Mendocino County you almost feel like you are driving over a washboard in a 4x4 when you come to the approach. And look at all the new Caltrans equipment sitting around in their yards. Brand-new everything. Just like the County. Brand-new pickups, brand-new this, brand-new that. But the roads are just horrible.
On top of that, when traffic cannot get through on Highway 128 because of the river they all come around through Comptche driving around on the wrong side of the road to avoid bumps and holes. Someone is going to get killed. Then the County will be involved in a lawsuit which will be worse than what they are not spending. Take the county and the state together, it's a perfect case of robbing from the poor and giving to the rich, just the opposite of what it should be.
If the people in the County want to put a stop to this they should mass up and go to the Supervisors chambers about 500 strong and say, "We want an answer now!"
Caltrans? What can you do when Kim Jong Un Brown is running it? What can you do against his administration? Maybe the same thing. About 5000 people show up at the Capitol and demand an answer to this crap. What are you doing, Kim Jong Un Brown?
By the way, I am not complaining about Caltrans employees for this. It comes from the administration and what they have done with our tax money. They have taken the 30 cent new gas tax that was supposed to go to our infrastructure and put it into a $25 million complex so prisoners can come out and rest up and get a fresh start. That's a nice one. I don't blame County employees either. I spoke to WT Johnson who said that when he started at the Boonville yard he had seven employees, now he's down to three, counting himself. It's not the people's fault. It's over the hill, that side of the mountain in the supervisor's chambers.
God bless Donald Trump
MENDOCINO COUNTY MAN’S HARROWING STORY TO BE FEATURED ON ‘LOCKED UP ABROAD’
A man who spends half his time in Mendocino County is the subject of a National Geographic special coming up at the end of the month.
As he crept through the darkened hills outside Tijuana carrying 60 kilos of marijuana bound for San Diego, Steve Peterson never imagined that his misspent youth would culminate four decades later in a starring role on a hit television series.
So when the latest episode of the National Geographic Channel’s Locked Up Abroad airs on Wednesday (9 p.m. PST), Peterson expects the whole experience to feel a bit surreal.
“It’s a trip,” Peterson, now 68, says, chuckling, “I was just a young dumbass trying to pay my bills. If you’d told me that someday people would want to tell my story on TV all around the world, I’d have said you were crazy.”
Peterson now spends half his time at his cabin in Sonoma County and the other half on his sailboat in Fort Bragg.
CATCH OF THE DAY, January 28, 2018
SHANNON ARNOLD, Goleta/Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
ANTHONY BALTAZAR, South Lake Tahoe/Ukiah. Receiving stolen property, felon in possession of firearm, ammo possession by prohibited person, large capacity magazine, alteration of firearm ID, counterfeiting.
RODRIGO CARLOS-MEDINA, Santa Rosa/Ukiah/BLM land. Possession of assault rifle, large capacity magazine.
GILBERTO CHAN JR., South Lake Tahoe/Ukiah. Unlawful sexual intercourse with minor more than three years younger than perpetrator, more than an ounce of pot, suspended license, probation revocation.
KAREN DIGIROLAMO, Ukiah. Under influence, controlled substance, paraphernalia, failure to appear.
JAMES LANGTON, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
RONALD PEDIGO, Ukiah. Parole violation.
MONICA SAVIDAN, Ukiah. Under influence, paraphernalia.
TORREY THURMAN, Fort Bragg. Burglary, appropritation of someone else’s property without trying to return it, receiving stolen property, probation revocation.
MICHAEL WARREN, Ukiah. Controlled substance.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Gene Weingarten, a Washington Post Sunday Magazine writer, proclaimed Battle Mountain “Armpit of America” in 2001. That was darn right nasty of him.
Battle Mountain was the place where a band of Shoshones attacked a group of whites back in 1857. You can always tell how one of those fights went – it was a battle if the whites won and a massacre if the Indians came out on top. The place became a mining and railroad town – still is. It’s also the Lander County seat of government
That newspaper scribe didn’t figure on the pride that courses through most American West communities. Battle Mountain citizens didn’t whine or wail about the title. They got together and put on the Festival in the Pit. There are billboards along Interstate 80 that proudly proclaim the event. It’s been going on for three years and even has a big time corporate sponsor – Old Spice.
A large toilet seat hangs on the “Welcome to Battle Mountain” sign. Almost everyone in town supports the festivities that start with a street dance on Friday. Saturday is the big day beginning with the Pony Express Road Race with children pulling decorated wagons. Famed Ronald McDonald did a magic show.
A person could really get tuckered out trying to participate in all the events. Quoting Lisa Wolf in the Elko Daily Free Press, August 17, 2005: “The festival sported a dunk tank, volleyball tournament, massage therapist (?), horseshoe throwing contest, wheelbarrow contest, Poker Run, boxing, rapelling off the water tower, and Indian fry bread.
“The beauty/talent pageant was a tie between a women who glued Mormon crickets to her underarms and a little girl who breakdanced.” Indian fry bread, by the way, is one of the great treats offered at celebrations in the West.
That ought to be enough to keep everyone entertained but Battle Mountain people do things in a big way. There was a beer chugging contest and the local band of Native Americans performed traditional dances along with a dance honoring mothers and the earth.
Winners won Old Spice Deodorant. What did you expect? Trophies?
There is, too, the fact that westerners will use any excuse for a party and Battle Mountain throws a great party. I’m still trying to figure out why the massage therapist at the celebration?
A Blue Grass Festival has replaced Festival of the Pit beginning in 2006. Shucks!
"NORTH OF BADWATER ROAD" (WYOMING)
(Photo by Harvey Reading)
PG&E INUNDATED AS FIRE DISASTER BEGAN
Dozens of equipment problems reported during early hours.
Just before 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 8, a tree branch fell into a power line in the town of Kenwood east of Santa Rosa as sparks were scattered by heavy winds. Local emergency officials contacted Pacific Gas and Electric Co., asking the utility to immediately evaluate the damage because of the evening’s dangerous fire conditions.
It was one of the first reported electrical disturbances in Sonoma County the night that numerous fires erupted across the North Bay, and would prove a harbinger of things to come.
As the night progressed, county dispatchers recorded 111 fire and medical emergencies, from a thick smell of smoke near the coast to flames scorching a creek trail in central Santa Rosa. Nearly half of those incidents mentioned downed or sparking power lines, blown transformers or other concerns with PG&E’s equipment, a Chronicle review of dispatch logs shows.
The state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, has not determined the causes of the wildfires that swept across Wine Country in October, destroying whole neighborhoods and killing at least 45 people. But among the suspected sources are power lines, which have been responsible for some of the nation’s most devastating fires.
During the first night of the conflagration, county dispatchers contacted PG&E about troubles with gas and electrical lines in at least 54 locations. There were many additional electrical issues recorded in the dispatch logs that the utility was not advised about.
The problems became so prevalent that a PG&E representative was called into the dispatch center to help handle the deluge of reports — a rare measure that has happened only once before, said Aaron Abbott, who runs Sonoma County’s fire and medical emergency dispatch center, the Redwood Empire Dispatch Communications Authority.
“It was certainly surprising, it was certainly unusual, and yeah, that’s a high number,” Abbott said, referring to the dozens of times his agency contacted PG&E. “I won’t pretend to know what did or didn’t start the fires, but we certainly had a lot of electrical issues in the county that night.”
The Chronicle was unable to obtain similar records from Napa County, where most of the major fires originated, before publication. And officials at Cal Fire would not comment on the newspaper’s review of the dispatch logs, because of the agency’s investigation into the wildfires.
Reports of downed or sparking power lines in an area burned by fire does not necessarily mean that the line started the flames. PG&E often has emphasized a point echoed by fire investigation experts: Sometimes a fire will damage electrical lines and utility poles, rather than the lines themselves starting the flames.
“It’s important to remember that there has been no determination on the causes of any of the fires,” said Keith Stephens, senior director of communications for PG&E.
Some outside experts said the major wildfires have the signature of a lightning storm: Many disparate blazes breaking out over a short window of time across a large area. But because there were no reported lightning strikes in the North Bay when the flames erupted, the most likely culprit is electrical wires, said Steve Pyne, a professor and fire historian at Arizona State University who is not directly involved in California’s investigation.
“From what I know, power lines seem like the most plausible explanation,” he said. “And it’s not a freak thing. It happens all over the country.”
In Sonoma County late on Oct. 8 and early on Oct. 9, dispatchers handled a flood of reported problems with the electrical grid. Within seconds of each other, calls about downed and arcing power lines came from opposite ends of Santa Rosa; blue bursts and green sparks shooting out of transformers were reported miles apart.
Many of the electrical issues were accompanied by reports of fires and requests for PG&E to respond to the scene or restore or shut off power.
At around 9:50 p.m. on Oct. 8, 35 mph winds pushed flames toward homes in a rural part of Healdsburg that would later become an isolated portion of the Tubbs Fire. Dispatch logs show that power lines may have been involved, and PG&E sent field personnel to the location to begin restoration work.
At 10:20 p.m., a number of callers reported seeing a possible transformer explosion, downed wires and a field on fire on both sides of Highway 101 in Windsor; again PG&E was advised. Within 10 minutes, the utility had a crew on site, assessing the damage and trying to figure out how to restore power to 500 nearby customers who had lost service.
Shortly after 11 p.m., dispatch received word of downed power lines and fire engulfing buildings near 8555 Sonoma Highway in Kenwood — a town that would later be decimated by the blazes. Witnesses reported flames approaching a winery and ammonia tanks, which can be explosive. PG&E inspected the area two days later and found that a 60-foot-tall eucalyptus tree had toppled into a power line, knocking three wires to the ground.
And around midnight, there were calls about power lines arcing into a tree and an active fire in Occidental — a rural town 15 miles west of Santa Rosa left untouched by the major wildfires. County dispatchers requested emergency assistance from PG&E, which sent someone to the location to help first responders.
Through the rest of the night until sunrise, dispatchers would handle nearly 400 fire-related incidents all over the county, including many reports of downed or damaged electrical equipment, some throwing sparks into nearby vegetation. Calls continued Oct. 9, with an increasing number mentioning hissing, leaking or burning gas lines.
“There’s fires in Kenwood, fires in the middle of Santa Rosa, fire up near the county line, fires out in Sonoma Valley, fires up in Geyserville, hazardous conditions in Occidental and Sebastopol,” Abbott said. “It was really a widespread emergency that was occurring very rapidly.”
Although Cal Fire’s investigation remains open, records PG&E filed with state regulators show that the utility found damaged electrical equipment at or near the suspected primary starting points for the four biggest Wine Country fires: the Atlas, Nuns, Partrick and Tubbs fires.
PG&E crews responding to three of those locations discovered tree limbs — or in one case, an entire tree — striking electrical equipment. At the fourth location, Cal Fire investigators took possession of a downed PG&E line leading to a burned home, as well as several sections of a power line owned by the homeowner.
In all, the utility filed 20 incident reports with the state, reporting significant damage to its equipment across eight counties. PG&E also fielded many calls on the night of the fires, both from dispatch centers across the region and through the utility’s own emergency number.
“We received calls from many, many locations — not just Sonoma,” Stephens said.
Problems with power lines are relatively common during windstorms and have caused some of the nation’s worst wildfires.
One of the largest fires in New Mexico history erupted after a tree fell on a power line in 2011. That year, authorities suspect the most destructive firestorm recorded in Texas began after winds blew dead pine trees into electrical lines.
In California, San Diego Gas & Electric Co. paid out $2.4 billion to settle lawsuits spurred by a series of wildfires in 2007 sparked by electrical equipment blown about by powerful winds. Of the 10 most destructive wildfires fires in California with a known cause, four were found to be started by malfunctioning electrical equipment.
“This has been a slow-moving catastrophe for the public utilities in California,” said Mike Rohde, a consultant based in Orange County for firefighting agencies and public utilities. “The liability generated from wildfires has threatened the financial integrity of some of these companies.”
While many experts consider damaged power lines one of the most likely culprits for the Wine Country fires, the conditions that night — strong winds, low humidity and years of built-up vegetation dried by drought — would have made any spark a threat.
A vehicle dragging a chain, unextinguished burn piles rekindled by the wind, and arsonists all have caused fires to break out in many places over a short period of time, said Paul Steensland, a former fire investigator and retired U.S. Forest Service senior special agent.
Electrical fires almost always leave some physical evidence, which investigators will probably search for. Remnants of a branch that hit a power line, pieces of aluminum that melted and fell to the ground, and remains of a blown fuse are commonly present.
If the soil composition is right, something called a fulgurite can also be created — fused soil that looks like coral.
Cal Fire has not set a definitive timeline for completing its investigation, but at a state senate subcommittee hearing in Santa Rosa on Friday, Chief Ken Pimlott said that more than 30 investigators are searching for what started the Wine Country fires, and that each blaze will have its own report.
“It’s painstaking, and as you indicated, there’s a lot at stake,” Pimlott told the legislators, many of whom are eagerly seeking answers about about the disaster. “Hopefully, in the next several months, we’ll be reaching a conclusion on many of these . ... I can tell you the process is very far along.”
HOW THE RUSSIANS SEE US
Why We’re Underestimating American Collapse
The strange new pathologies of the world’s first rich failed state
REAL ID REAL BAD
The new Real ID driver’s licenses provide no added benefit in traveling safety or otherwise. It decreases the convenience of flying by several orders of magnitude. When October 2020 comes around, expect countless angry fliers not knowing about this new requirement stranded in airports. Expect even angrier fliers when Thanksgiving and Christmas come around. On top off all this, most Ameicans do not own a passport, so they will not have any form of ID to fly. I do not believe these “tougher to counterfeit” IDs will make flying any safe, but much more inconvenient.
DUCKS ON THE LAKE
(Photo by Judy Valadao)
POSTAL HIPPIES, 1968
Feb. 1: The Post Office Department has a set of hippies, “wearing flamboyant and outlandish garb,” delivering mail in San Francisco. “I was somewhat taken aback by some of the carriers that I saw walking down the streets of the town,” said Richard J. Murphy, assistant-postmaster general in charge of personnel, who is just back from a trip to the west coast. Normally, Murphy said, the Post office doesn’t interfere with the private lives of its employees. But, he said, bear coats, beads, beards and bells are not appropriate for representatives of the federal government on duty and “I simply am not going to have it.” A set of clothing and grooming regulations will be issued soon. In San Francisco, Postmaster Lim Poon Lee indicated he was happy with his hippies and didn’t intend to apply any regulations too harshly. He said the hippies are hired “because they are very near the top of the civil service register — they score very well.”
KZYX’s RIGGED ELECTION
Karen, Jill, Els, and Johanna fixed it for Ottoboni
by Mark Scaramella & Bruce Anderson
(AVA Archive, April 5th, 2000)
“I don’t see how it’s possible for anybody to rig an election.” — Barbara Lamb, KZYX programmer
Granted, it takes some doing, but it’s doable — done-able — at KZYX just this March.
There were no allegations of fraud during the recent vote to elect new people to the KZYX board of directors, but they’re elected separately from the programmer’s representative, an important distinction given what happened.
The person representing the people who go on the air, for some reason known only to the odd bureaucratic brain who devised the station’s processes, is elected separately. Normally, no one cares who represents the record spinners and the station’s talk show hosts and hostesses, but a lot of people cared this time because control of the station was at stake.
The recently elected KZYX board majority went to great lengths to ensure that Karen Ottoboni kept her seat on the Board as Programmers’ Representative. Ottoboni and her supporters seem to think they’re in a death struggle for the soul of the station. Programming, dominated by NPR’s pre-recorded offerings piped in from Washington, DC, is predictable and safely mainstream liberal.
But if Karen Ottoboni had lost her fight to remain on KZYX’s board of directors, she and her supporters seem to feel that KZYX programming would somehow become more conservative, more dominated by the neo-suburbanites who provide more and more of KZYX’s funding. Station insiders want station Manager Laura Miller fired, and to do that they need Ottoboni’s vote as programmer rep.
Why they want Miller fired is unknown; she’s only been station manager for a year and most people connected with KZYX seem pleased with her job performance.
The putschists, having committed election fraud to get Ottoboni re-elected as programming rep and a member of the KZYX board of directors, compromising their Ukiah guarantors Robertson & Associates in the process, now have a board majority for Miller’s removal.
The latest contretemps at the station seem no more significant than many prior personality conflicts characteristic of the station’s internal workings from its one-man creation a decade ago.
In the just concluded Ottoboni re-election, only the station’s programmers voted. Robertson & Associates, the Ukiah accounting firm, dutifully certified the election. Karen Ottoboni received 36 votes, her opponent, Steve Garner of Elk got 34 votes.
But that’s not the whole story.
Ottoboni’s two-vote margin of victory was achieved by votes from persons who were not programmers at KZYX. At least two persons known to have cast programmer ballots had never been programmers at any time, but had been guests on Els Cooperrider’s environment program, which seemed all the programmer qualifications they needed.
Although Robertson and Associates have affixed their imprimatur on Ottoboni’s re-election, nobody knows for sure what a programmer is. Ottoboni and her friendly board majority haven’t produced either the names of her mystery margin voters or a definition of what constitutes a KZYX programmer.
KZYX has never trusted itself to conduct its own elections, with good reason it seems. The non-profit, tax-exempt station’s overseers are selected by an election conducted by paid Ukiah accountants. The accountants send out ballots to the membership based on membership lists supplied to them by KZYX in Philo. The membership votes and sends their ballots back to Ukiah. Robertson & Associates conducts the separate election for programmer’s representative. The programmer’s rep is also a voting member of the station’s board of trustees.
Board member Jimmy Humble, the station’s one-person “election committee,” began the programmer election process in early January by asking station manager Laura Miller for a current roster of programmers from which Robertson & Associates would dispatch ballots giving programmers a choice between Steve Garner and Karen Ottoboni.
Miller delegated the request for a roster of programmers to KZYX staffer Jack or “C.J.” Tyselling. Tyselling was probably distracted transferring his gender from male to female. Tyselling is now called Lili Dubois.
Lili subsequently turned the task over to two unnamed station volunteers, one of whom was known to want Ottoboni off the board. Although the station maintains a sort of pro forma contract with each programmer consisting of a pledge from the programmer to abide by station rules, these “contracts” — indeed the names of the programmers themselves — are haphazardly maintained. It isn’t clear who’s presently an on-air person, who’s a substitute, who’s signed a programmer’s agreement, who’s on sabbatical, who won’t come on with whom to discuss what, what name the programmer uses on the air, whether or not the programmer is on probation for one offense or another, or even what the programmer’s current address and phone number is.
The chaos worked to the ultimate advantage of Ottoboni, the Yorkville homesteader. She and her supporters, including her long-time companion, Jill Hannum, wasted no time updating the programmer’s roster to the advantage of Ottoboni.
KZYX affairs are complicated by a furtive secrecy comically disproportionate to its grammar school-quality office politics. In-house scheming is constant and intense even though there is clearly a broad consensus among the membership that the station’s bland mix of non-controversial talk and music constitutes a viable public radio station for Mendocino County. KZYX’s evening news is a sort of idiot’s brew consisting of statements from persons on opposite ends of local controversies served up without context, analysis or, typically, follow-up.
Among Mendocino County’s radio stations, KZYX listener ratings are consistently among the lowest-rated, according to staffers at at least one rival FM station.
Untrue, says a KZYXer. “We’re the most listened-to radio station in Mendocino County. The other stations are just jealous.”
That claim may or may not be true; who’s to measure? How to measure? It depends on how you count listeners. But it’s odd that KZYX prepared a brochure boasting of the dominance of its audience over all others but never mailed it out to advertisers, er “underwriters.”
The nut of the current dispute is between an endlessly pious cadre of self-certified local activists and conservative-to-Clintonoid retirees, most of the latter quite wealthy. The more conservative members are arrayed behind station manager Miller, the alleged “activists” behind Ottoboni.
In the middle of this bitter but obscure struggle are people who really don’t care one way or another who represents them so long as the music never stops.
It is no surprise that the simple term “programmer” eludes definition at a radio station whose ubiquitous on-site supporters have worked to undermine the persons they’ve hired to manage the place all the way back to its founding father, Sean Donovan. Donovan, by the way, got the public radio station up and running without involving the public. Then he presented the public a $28,000 bill for his organizational services and moved on to a station in Alaska where his boorish abrasiveness quickly got him fired.
Back to the future. As the KZYX search for its roster of programmers began this January, a virtually Talmudic argument about how to define “programmer” also commenced. The Ottoboni forces seemed to define programmer as any person who has ever played a record on the air at the Philo station or, if they’re two votes short, any person who has appeared on a program as a guest who is likely to support Ottoboni.
The persons arrayed behind Garner, who seems to have had no idea what he was in for when he agreed to run for programmer’s rep, thought programmer meant any person who appears regularly on the air.
“We should have a policy on what a programmer is, but there is no policy and there has been no written decision on it,” a station insider says. But persons who do not now consider themselves programmers got ballots in the just-concluded programmer’s election. The current programmer roster is out of date and a number of the addresses on the present roster are incorrect. Some of the persons listed as programmers have since disappeared, several may no longer be among the living. KZYX doesn’t know how many people actually got ballots or even who got them because the balloting is handled by Robertson, Inc., the Ukiah accounting firm working at the outset of the programmer’s rep election with the “election committee,” i.e., Jimmy Humble.
It’s not clear, for example, if the legendary Sister Yasmin got a programmer’s ballot. She was taken off the air outside the station’s own procedures for, well, her unfortunate lack of interpersonal skills, but Miss Yasmin still occasionally appears at the Philo mikes to present special programs.
The issue of who’s a voting programmer and who’s not has never been much of an issue because historically nobody coveted the position. But this year, with the station’s board of directors balanced between the “activist” warm-fuzzies behind Ottoboni, and the merely fuzzy-warms aghast at the Ottoboni-ites maneuvering against station manager Laura Miller, the aghast fuzzy-warms urged Elk music programmer Steve Garner to run against Ottoboni.
The ensuing contest to represent the programmers became contentious, and the faction-fighting kicked in, with both sides telephoning programmers to lobby for either Garner or Ottoboni.
At first a list of 90 or so programmers was dispatched to Robertson & Associates in Ukiah. But Robertson & Associates promptly notified KZYX by letter that it wasn’t clear who was eligible to vote; there was not a precise description of what constitutes a programmer. The accountants firmly suggested that KZYX’s definitions be defined, a task still not completed or even addressed as of the first week of April.
Soon after that the list was sent to Robertson & Associates, Cooperrider et al got hold of a copy and realized that Ottoboni’s re-election was in doubt. Board President Cooperrider then called an emergency board meeting to address the Ukiah accountant’s perplexed letter, forcefully suggesting that the knotty problem of who and what is a KZYX programmer be resolved.
The one-man Election Committee (and Board member) Humble refused to even attend, apparently having had his fill of the roster machinations. Several other board members couldn’t make the meeting because they hadn’t been notified about it in time to attend.
Only three board members, Els Cooperrider, Johanna Cummings and Guy Rowe (since resigned in disgust) attended the momentous session that would finally decide who was a KZYX programmer and which list of programmers Robertson & Associates should use to dispatch ballots for programmer’s rep.
Despite there being not being a quorum present to constitute a legal meeting of the KZYX board of directors, the three directors who did show up valiantly plunged ahead with their mission: What is a KZYX programmer? Would we know one if we saw one? Does it eat pizza? What kind of music does it like?
The intrepid trio of trustees spoke to Miller, DuBois/Tyselling and former programming director Scott Southard about how to define “programmer.”
Opinions were offered about who should be on the list and what a programmer is. (Volunteer programmers are considered “unpaid employees” under the California Corporations Code. Technically, they are supposed to be treated like employees, with certain rights and obligations. But — 1. employees don’t really have many rights unless they’re unionized, and 2. KZYX has never honored its or the FCC’s procedures when the station’s dominant personalities have felt the rules were inconvenient to their dominance.)
As the February three-member emergency board meeting continued on into the night, the non-quorum attempted to also determine the final programmer roster to meet the looming election deadline. Unkempt file folders bulging with programmers past, present, mythical, deceased, disappeared, doppleganged, unknown, were presented and reviewed, but no decision was made as to what the criteria should be for determining who is and who is not a programmer, although there seemed to be consensus agreement that a dead person was probably unable to fulfill programming duties.
But immediately after this irresolute session ended with the three trustees and their on-site staffers still scratching their heads about how to define programmer, an email list of 11 supplementary programmer names began circulating. It was accompanied by an authoritative but unsigned note saying, in effect, “A board majority has agreed that these names should be submitted to Robertson & Associates. Will you approve?”
Five board members, constituting a board majority, were reached by telephone at their homes by one or another of these three persons: trustees Els Cooperrider, unelected busybody Jill Hannum, and the forceful trustee Johanna Cummings and urged to approve the 11 new Ottoboni-friendly programmers. The five trustees said yes, Ottoboni was their choice, apparently not understanding that the 11 names they’d just approved as programmers had been rounded up by the Get Miller Girls, all of whom were of course supporting Ottoboni.
The mystery 11 were rushed to Robertson & Associates and the ballots were mailed out. There were still no criteria for what constituted a programmer; several of the names on the supplementary list were definitely not current programmers, and a couple of the names listed as programmers were people who had never been more than guests on public affairs shows. But they were a cinch to vote for Karen Ottoboni for programmer rep.
Robertson had already sent the first 90 or so ballots out and received some back — how many Robertson did not reveal. They then rushed out the extra 11 ballots and issued the results: Ottoboni was announced the winner by two votes.
Then even more unhappiness descended on the Philo radio station. Joyca Cunnan, one of the five who voted for the 11-name supplementary addition to the programmer’s roster, stood up during the public comment period of the recent board meeting at which the rigged election results were announced and said, “Of all the votes I ever made in the three years I was a director, the only one I regret was the vote I made to approve that supplementary list of 11 names.”
Cunnan had not run for re-election.
Eventually 97 to 101 people got programmer ballots; no one seems to be certain what the precise number of official ballots was. The best estimate is the 90 or so programmers on the original programmer’s roster got ballots and then, after the Ottoboni crew were finished vetting it, 11 more people were cleared for programmer status, making the total number of eligible voters in the Ottoboni-versus Garner election 101.
The result was 36-34 for Ottoboni, with 70 “programmers” returning ballots to the Ukiah bean counters at Robertson & Associates.
No one can be sure how many of the original 90 or so names got ballots because the station’s address information is out of date. At least two of the original 90 or so names are not current programmers, and at least two of the supplementary list are not current programmers. That Ottoboni squeezed to victory as programmer’s rep by two votes is pure coincidence, of course.
The 11 additional names approved by five board members reached by telephone were not approved in anything like democratic circumstances. The minority trustees did not know about the new names and had not approved a telephone serial meeting of the KZYX board of directors. They didn’t even know the telephone process was underway. The ad hoc 11 were appointed programmers by three women arm-twisting one board member at a time via phone, fax and email. Trustees who may have been inclined to argue against the hand-picked, hurry-up 11 were not invited to participate in the process.
With five board members in line to support the Cooperrider-Cummings-Hannum supplementary list, Ottoboni, programmer rep and therefore a trustee, with a breathtaking hypocrisy spectacular even by KZYX standards, nobly recused herself from voting on the supplementary list on the grounds that she had a conflict of interest!
If democratic principles applied at KZYX Ottoboni’s election would be invalidated, an open process to establish an official programmer voting list would be employed and the election would be held over again. If the election is not re-done, the station’s board of directors should be sued. (Robertson & Associates seems only vaguely aware that they have been party to voter fraud.)
One long-time station observer states the obvious. “I don’t know why we even have a programmers’ rep on the board. The board is supposed to represent the listeners. If the programmers want representation let them form a bargaining unit and elect their own representative.”
To date the station has taken no formal action on the Robertson & Associates demand that a formal policy and process be put in place to establish and maintain an official programmer’s list. Robertson & Associates second suggestion that a firm and final definition of programmer be established, has also been ignored.
At this point there are two vacant seats that the board must fill by appointment. The KZYX board of directors now consists of an Ott-ite majority of Cooperrider, Cummings, Ottoboni, and DuCharme. And they’re not expected to appoint people who don’t support Ottoboni.
Contrary to rumors circulating in Philo, the next KZYX election will not be conducted in Paraguay.