- Animal Control
- Drowning Questioned
- Processing Permits
- Cabaret Dinner
- Nicholas Von Hoffman
- Freak Fair
- Little Dog
- Grid Control
- Yesterday's Catch
- Sculpture Call
- Swing Band
- No Parade
- Monkey God
- Fake President
- Salmon Meeting
- PA Agenda
- Solar Suitcases
- Winter Pruning
- Hendy Workday
- Trump Parade
- Eluding Justice
- Shale Delusion
- Marco Radio
- Fire Debris Removal
- Oil Leaders
by Angie Herman
There are an estimated 83,000 domestic animals residing in Mendocino County according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Mendocino County Agriculture 2007 Census. With all those animals, come the 87,841 people who own them. Mendocino County is clearly an animal loving community.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department holds the responsibility to keep all those beings in line. Yes – both animals and humans need policing at times. Any animal related issues are handled by Animal Control, a department within the Sheriff’s department.
Despite our strong love of animals, our County does not appear to respect the Animal Control Department commensurate with the level of responsibility they carry.
According to Lieutenant Jason Caudillo, Central Operations of the Field Division for the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department, our Animal Control department is woefully understaffed and grossly underfunded. With just three officers to cover 3,878 square miles, it is the busiest division within the Sheriff’s department – every single day of the year. Mendocino County is not unique in this regard. The National Animal Care and Control Association (NACA) has determined that, nationwide, Animal Control Officers make four (4) times as many public contacts as Deputy Sheriffs and Police Officers do during the same time period.
An animal control officer is a law enforcement officer and this officer must stay informed regarding all animal-related laws and have innate leadership and communication skills. The officer is responsible for animal safety and public safety regarding animals. He/she must respond to calls of stray or dangerous animals and investigate animal cruelty. The officer provides education to the public about laws regarding pet ownership and the proper treatment of animals. It is not uncommon for an Animal Control officer to discover human abuse and neglect while in the field. There is a strong link between animal neglect and abuse and elder abuse, child neglect and domestic violence. According to our County, the officer must do all of this while being paid $13/hour.
The Mendocino County Board of Supervisor’s states their mission is to create and maintain a responsive and responsible government that enhances the quality of life of the people of Mendocino County. The County’s mission is to deliver services that meet: Public safety, health, social, cultural, education, transportation, economic, and environmental needs of our communities”.
Whether the County can maintain a responsive and responsible government with underpaid, understaffed departments is in question. With so few officers, our Animal Control Department is working on a reactive rather than a pro-active level. Animals in dire situations must take a number and wait until there is staff to help them. Sometimes it’s a long wait. In order to cover the animal control needs in our vast County, Caudillo says the department needs double the number of officers we have now. Attracting, hiring and maintaining quality employees can be a challenge. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an Animal Control Officer’s annual mean wage in the State of California is $23.67/hour. Mendocino County is attempting to attract job applicants who will pass the psychological, medical, and background checks required to become an animal control officer with a wage that is just over minimum wage.
How the animals in our County fare going forward depends on how insistent the public is about animal welfare. With almost one animal for every resident in Mendocino County, the need appears to be great. But for any changes to happen there needs to be a conversation between the residents of Mendocino County and the Board of Supervisors.
SOME NOYO HARBOR RESIDENTS are wondering about the recent drowning death of Alexandra Hunter Russell, found dead floating in Noyo Harbor on January 24, 2018. According to an initial Sheriff’s press release, a missing person’s report for Ms. Russell was filed about 8am that Wednesday morning by her boyfriend, Garrett Fenrich. Ms. Russell's body was found by Fenrich and a friend that same afternoon around 3pm.
Sheriff’s Coroner, Shannon Barney, announced that Ms. Russell “may have had a medical issue.” Her neighbors say the "medical issue" was a reference to speculation by Fenrich that it may have been a seizure that caused Ms. Russell to fall into the harbor.
Fenrich told deputies and neighbors that Russell left their harbor side home — its deck is directly over the water — at 3am after the couple had argued. Fenrich said that was the last time he saw her until some seven hours later when he saw her lifeless body in the water.
It's not known if Fenrich began looking for Russell when she allegedly went missing at 3am.
According to Ms. Russell’s Facebook page, she was an accomplished competitive swimmer, making her an unlikely drowning victim.
Persons close to Ms. Russell are highly skeptical of the accidental drowning version of Ms. Russell's death. They assume the police and the DA are pursuing a fuller investigation.
Fenrich was arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail on domestic abuse charges on March 21, 2017, although charges were later dropped when Ms. Russell decided not to pursue the case against him.
On January 25, 2018 Sheriff’s Captain Gregory Van Patten told the media, “At this time her death is suspected to be accidental, but an official determination is pending an autopsy with blood alcohol and toxicology analysis."
No obituary has been filed beyond this death notice in the Advocate-Beacon: “Alexandra Hunter Russell of Fort Bragg, California died January 24, 2018 in Fort Bragg. Born October 7, 1971 in California to Sheila and Richard Hunter, she was 47 years old.”
Ms. Russell left behind three teenage children in the Bay Area where she'd lived much of her life.
LAST TUESDAY Supervisor John McCowen asked CEO Carmel Angelo for an update on the flagging cannabis program and the so-far slow progress of getting permits through the system:
McCOWEN: “At a previous meeting we had discussed and I believe we have given direction for the Executive Office to work with our Code Enforcement Manager, Trent Taylor, to see if we could come up with a work plan to expedite the approval process for the cannabis cultivation applications. I would like to ask if we have an update on that. Where are we?”
CEO ANGELO: “I have an update. Yes. Trent Taylor and I have met, right after the [last] board meeting. He has a strategy as you know. We have shared our information from LACO [an engineering consulting contractor with offices in Ukiah and other NorCal cities] which basically was a review of our process. Mr. Taylor has that. We will be meeting. Him and I will be meeting with the Ag Department soon. We do believe that based on this board's directions that Mr. Taylor will be putting together and implementing a strategy to assist us with getting the permits done quicker. I see that happening. Our first round of interviews for the cannabis manager will be Tuesday, February 13. I previously told this board we had 41 applicants for the position. We have screened it down to the top 10. We will be doing the first round of interviews on the 13th and we will be doing a second round once we get it down to three or four people. So with the Cannabis Manager position being filled and Mr. Taylor's efforts on streamlining and assisting with the permitting process this board should see some improvements.”
BOARD CHAIR Dan Hamburg: “Very good!”
(NOTHING FROM McCowen or anyone else…)
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SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. The answer to what’s being done to expedite the pot permits is: We’re working on it. We shared, we met, we met some more, we believe, we’re interviewing, we will be putting together, we’re screening, and we should see some improvements! And it’s all “very good!”
AS LONG AS THAT kind of non-response not only passes without follow-up or comment or question, but is simply declared “very good,” there’s not going to be much improvement and it won’t be soon.
JUST IN: Valentine's Cabaret Dinner and Auction on Feb 10!
Treat your Valentine to an evening of good food, entertainment, and a live auction. On Saturday, February 10 Gloriana will be holding its third annual Cabaret Dinner and Auction. All money raised will go towards our Scholarship fund. Dinner is your choice of either meat, veggie or vegan lasagna (gluten free available), garden salad with a selection of dressings, garlic bread, non-alcoholic drink and a dessert bar. Beer and wine for sale separately.
While you dine our performers will sing songs of love to entertain you and when they aren't singing there will be a LIVE auction!
The evening will run from 6:00 – 9:00 at Eagles Hall in Fort Bragg. Tickets are $25 per person or $40 per couple. Tickets available online at gloriana.org or at the door.
NICHOLAS VON HOFFMAN, dead at 88.
When reporter Nicholas von Hoffman joined The Washington Post in 1966, he brought with him a flair for controversy that eventually triggered a resignation threat from a top editor, a boycott from advertisers and, according to Post historian Chalmers M. Roberts, “produced more angry letters to the editor than the work of any other single reporter in the paper’s history.”
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VON HOFFMAN ON SPIRO AGNEW: “Spiro Agnew has gone and done the one thing that Vice Presidents are never supposed to do. He’s trying to take attention away from his boss. A Vice President has no right to an independent scandal of his own. It’s his constitutional responsibility to content himself with such minor roles in the White House scandals as the President sees fit to assign him. In fact, Vice President Agnew did the country a great favor. He brought corruption within the reach of the middle-class American family on the basis that the bribes he took were so small. Any ordinary family could afford to bribe the Vice President. One of his bribes was for just $1500 bucks. You could save up for a while and say, Hey! I bribed the Vice President!”
GREETINGS FAIR FANS,
The Mendocino County Fair is the weekend of September 14-16 and a brand new event is happening in the Ag. Building. “Freaky Fruits” and “Mammoth Zucchini’s" is going to be a fun and interactive experience.
First off, bring your crazy carrot, apple with a nose, wonky tomato or any odd looking garden edible to the fair before noon on Sunday and sign-up to win a $100 cash prize. Same prize will be paid for largest summer squash (zucchini). Everyone has that one that got away, and now it could be worth a hundred bucks. Simply bring your entry to the rear of the Ag. Building between Thursday evening and Sunday at noon and fill out the card, place your entry on the yellow bleachers across from the giant pumpkins and your in! Live judging will occur on Sunday at 1:30 and you can help choose the winners. Crowd reaction will determine the champion, so bring your loudest chants, screams, and whistles and join in to choose the 2018 Champions. It’s going to be really fun.
See you at the Fair!
Donna Pierson Pugh for the Fair Boosters
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Skrag musta got beat up pretty bad. He's dragging. I asked him how he was doing and, instead of insulting me like he usually does, he just groaned out, ‘Thanks, Little Dog’."
OWNING THE GRID
I have a clarification. Sonoma Clean Power generates electricity for most of Sonoma and Mendocino counties, while PG&E maintains the poles, wires and substations for all electric customers in our area.
That arrangement has helped cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent while saving more than $70 million on customer bills, but it hasn’t changed the ownership or management of the wires in the grid. That part stays the same as always.
Geof Syphers, CEO, Sonoma Clean Power
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 9, 2018
JASON BIENVENU, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
AILEEN BUON-LAMPERTI, San Francisco/Ukiah. Camping in Ukiah, suspended license, failure to appear.
RODOLFO CEJA III, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
RUDOLPH ESQUIVEL JR., Willits. DUI parole violation.
BRANDON GENET, Ukiah. Fugitive from justice.
BARRY MARTIN, Willits. Leaded cane or billyclub, etc.,
VINCENT NEWELL, Ukiah. Under influence, controlled substance, paraphernalia.
ARYLIS PETERS JR., Covelo. Probation revocation.
MELINA SALAZAR, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear.
FRANCIS SEYMOUR, Willits. Organic drug/controlled substance sale, transport, possession, purchase; competency status.
CALL TO ARTISTS: Seeking sculptural work for Sculpture Gallery at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, Fort Bragg, CA
The Arts Council of Mendocino County and the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens are preparing to present a seventh exhibition of sculpture on the grounds of the Botanical Gardens. Visitors are able to view and enjoy the artwork in an intimate, natural setting, connected by meandering paths and quiet walkways. The next unveiling of the sculpture in the gardens will be May 2018, and will feature a rotating collection of artwork for sale.
The Arts Council of Mendocino County is seeking sculptural work for the upcoming exhibition and has issued a Call to Artists. The deadline for submissions is March 14, 2018. To download the Call to Artists and Sculpture Gallery Application Form, go to www.ArtsMendocino.org <artsmendocino.org/> or call (707) 463-2727.
THE SWINGIN BOONVILLE BIG BAND (Yeehaa! fireworks, drumrolls), formed in the year 2000 as an Anderson Valley Adult Ed. class, will return to Laurens Cafe in Boonville on Saturday February 17th.
This is the 18th annual show at Laurens, and the band considers it sort of home base since its first public appearance was given there. The band currently is 20 musicians strong.
The band plays mostly classic hits from the Great American Song Book. Singing sensation Sharon Garner will headline the show. Break out your dancin shoes and join in the fun. The show starts at 9:00 PM and runs to 11:00 PM. Admission is $10.00 and all proceeds benefit A.V. Adult Ed. Music.
The Dance floor at Lauren's is bigger than one would expect after they clear out the tables and the floor itself is smooth and good for dancing.
by Manuel Vicent (translated by Louis S. Bedrock)
For millions of years, the primate was immersed in the confusion of his senses until the moment arrived when a serpent intervened. With one bite in the neck, the serpent inoculated the brain with consciousness and the primate suddenly felt intelligent — and guilty.
This incident has been passed down to our culture in the form of a fable. In the middle of Eden was the tree of science with the forbidden apple.
—Whoever eats the fruit of this tree will die —said Yahweh.
That primate used to wander naked among the tree ferns and he believed himself to be immortal—a sensation he shared with the other animals. Other congenerous simians may have known of the prohibition issued by the Master of Eden, but only he, our direct ancestor, tempted by the serpent, dared to break it.
—If you bite this apple, you will be like gods —the snake told Eve.
The penalty humanity had to pay for this defiance of the Creator is now known. Our first parents were expelled from Paradise; they were condemned to bear children in pain, to work by the sweat of their brow, and to die.
—And all this because of a simple apple? —the child asked the teacher.
Someone is obliged to explain to the child that the apple of Paradise is the conscience, the reason, the knowledge, the curiosity, and the rebelliousness which human beings have inherited from that pair of primates and which was called “Original Sin”.
Today, the tree of science continues to offer other bitten apples: apples of Newton, Alan Turing, and Steve Jobs, that dangle from the branches in the form of iPads and iPhones.
You will be like the gods: The current serpent functions in the laboratories of molecular biology, where thanks to “Original Sin”, human beings have acquired the capricious, unlimited power of their Creator. Every day the ultimate advance upon immortality is closer. In fact, the Chinese have just cloned a monkey.
THE WORST OF THE WORST
by Michael Tomasky
On January 10, The Washington Post reported that Donald J. Trump passed a milestone that none of his predecessors is known to have attained: just short of the anniversary of his first year in office, he told his two thousandth lie. It had happened sometime the day before, when the president was meeting with legislators to discuss immigration and tossed out a few of his old standbys — about how quickly the border wall could be built, about “the worst of the worst” gaining entry to the United States through a visa lottery, and about his wall’s ability to curtail the drug trade.
The path from the first lie to the two thousandth (and now beyond), a veritable Via Dolorosa of civic corruption, has been impossible for even the most resolute citizen to avoid. Trump is in our faces, and our brains, constantly. Yet the barrage is so unceasing that we can’t remember what he did and said last week, or sometimes even yesterday. Do you remember, for example, that first major lie? It was a doozy: the one about how his inaugural crowds were larger than Barack Obama’s, larger than anyone’s, the largest ever, despite the ample photographic evidence that rendered the claim laughable.
That was Day One. On Day Two, he sent his press secretary, Sean Spicer, out to meet the White House press corps for the first time. In that ill-fitting suit jacket that appeared to have been tailored for someone with a neck a good three inches thicker than his, Spicer insisted that the photographs were misleading and the press was wrong. Not just wrong — lying. “There’s been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility to hold Donald Trump accountable,” he said, sputtering his words in terse reports as if they were issuing from a machine gun. "And I’m here to tell you that it goes two ways. We’re gonna hold the press accountable as well. The American people deserve better, and as long as he serves as the messenger for this incredible movement, he will take his message directly to the American people, where his focus will always be."
Here we are, a year later. From my reading and television viewing, the general assessment of most pundits seems to be that it’s been worse than we could have imagined (except on the Fox News Channel, where everything in Trump world is coming up roses and the gravest threat to democracy is still someone named Clinton). But honestly, who couldn’t have imagined any of this? To anyone who had the right read on Trump’s personality — the vanity, the insecurity, the contempt for knowledge, the addiction to chaos — nothing that’s happened has been surprising in the least.
I think most close observers of Trump understood his personality perfectly well. If that’s right, what, then, could explain the surprise? Maybe just a reasonable disbelief that a president would, for example, remark crudely on a female television anchor’s facelift surgery, or actually encourage the Boy Scouts — the Boy Scouts! — to boo his predecessor (remember that one?). But I think there has been some deeper collective refusal on the part of the political class to acknowledge what has happened here, and of course to own up to their part in it. No one (on this point I include myself) believed Trump could win. No one took his candidacy seriously enough. This is especially true of the press, which, in hammering away on Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, assumed itself to be in training to refight the wars of the 1990s once the Clintons moved back into the White House.
When we are forced to confront the reality of a shocking outcome that we never thought would happen, we start rationalizing: It wasn’t our fault. There’s nothing we could have done. Maybe it won’t be so bad. Maybe it’s what we deserve. And maybe, in some strange way, it will all work out.
CDFW TO HOST PUBLIC MEETING ON OCEAN SALMON FISHERIES
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites the public to attend its upcoming annual Salmon Information Meeting to learn more about the state of California’s salmon fishery. The meeting will be held Thursday, March 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sonoma County Water Agency, 404 Aviation Blvd. in Santa Rosa (95403).
A review of last year’s ocean salmon fisheries and spawning escapement will be presented along with the outlook for this year’s sport and commercial ocean salmon fisheries.
Anglers are encouraged to provide input on potential fishing seasons to a panel of California salmon scientists, managers and representatives who will be directly involved in the upcoming Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meetings in March and April.
Salmon fishing seasons are developed through a collaborative process involving the PFMC, state, federal and tribal agencies, and west coast stakeholders interested in salmon fishery management and conservation. Public input will help California representatives develop a range of recommended season alternatives during the March 8-14 PFMC meeting in Rohnert Park, Calif. Final adoption of ocean salmon season regulations will occur during the April 5-11 PFMC meeting in Portland, Ore.
The 2018 Salmon Information Meeting marks the beginning of a two-month long public process used to establish annual sport and commercial ocean salmon seasons. A list of additional meetings and other opportunities for public comment is available on CDFW’s ocean salmon web page, www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon/preseason.
The meeting agenda and handouts will be posted online as soon as they become available.
Kandice Morgenstern, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2879
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478
AMERICA'S MOST GOVERNED
City Council Meeting February 13, 2018
City of Point Arena
ED NOTE: An item called “rejection of claim” doesn't explain what the claim was for.
Also, in all the boilerplate about “development standards for streets” there’s this note: “The Ad Hoc Committee has reviewed the documents and met 3 times to discuss the issues. They have made some recommendations on details for certain aspects of the proposed development standards which we will discuss in detail.” But no mention of what the “some recommendations” are for the public to consider commenting on.
A proposal to triple the city council member monthly stipends, certain to be unanimously approved, is concealed as “Report on Compensation for Council Members.”
MENDOCINO COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION STUDENTS CREATE RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCE FOR SCHOOLS IN ECUADOR
MCOE and PG&E create solar suitcases
During the fall semester, Mendocino County Office of Education (MCOE) students at New Beginnings School and West Hills School participated in a semester-long Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) project, one of 18 such projects in Central and Northern California supported by PG&E to create portable energy sources for energy-deficient schools in rural Ecuador.
The PG&E Solar Suitcase Project is part of the PG&E Foundation's Better Together Giving Program, designed to empower teens to build We Share SolarÂ® Suitcases (wesharesolar.org).
Theresa House in the MCOE Curriculum and Instruction Department teamed up with MCOE Alternative Education teachers Jeanne Metcalf and Annette Morrison to offer this hands-on program in which students learned about the design and operation of basic photovoltaic (solar energy) systems and electricity as they explored issues of renewable energy and sustainability.
As a culminating project, each school built a 12-volt DC stand-alone solar system, the solar suitcase.
“Students used their new skills and knowledge to give the gift of light to children in under developed areas of the world,” House said. This year the solar suitcases will be deployed in March to energy-deficient schools in rural Ecuador to provide overhead lights in classrooms.
ROSE REVIVAL – Winter Pruning Workshop at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens Saturday, February 17 from 10:00AM to 12:00PM in the Gardens Meeting Room and Heritage Rose Garden
Bring new life to your rose garden with a hard winter snip and clip! Join MCBG Gardener Mishele Stettenbenz for a hands-on training and learn basic techniques for pruning and shaping roses and other ornamental shrubs. Discover a variety of methods as Mishele discusses different types of roses and demonstrate how to prune each. Bring your leather gloves and a pair of pruners.
Class cost is $20 for members and Master Gardeners; $30 for non-members (includes Gardens admission for the day). Payment is due upon sign-up. Please note, all workshop fees are non-refundable unless the workshop has been canceled or rescheduled by the Gardens. Please reserve space for your preferred date by phoning 707-964-4352 ext. 16 or stop by The Garden Store at MCBG.
THISTLE FIGHTERS UNITE
My name is Anica Williams - Sorry I haven't been out to volunteer in a long time, I have been busy with our new baby... and I am a member of the Hendy Woods Community Board and we support Hendy Woods SP - I wanted to let you know about a upcoming volunteer work day at the park - see below - And I am hoping you can share it with other Land Trust Volunteers?... we are always looking for other volunteers for the Visitor Center and to lead forest walks if anyone is interested. See our Facebook pages as well - Hendy Woods Community - I have posted the event there as well... thank you!
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Invasive Plant Removal Volunteer Work Day
Sunday February 25th, 2018
11:00 AM-1:00 PM
Meet at the Day Use Picnic Area
Join the Fun!
The Hendy Woods Community (hendywoods.org) and California State Parks would like to invite you to Volunteer for a work day in the beautiful Hendy Woods State Park. Learn the importance of preserving the biological integrity of a native plant community and help in the eradication of invasive species. In exchange for your help, you will be granted FREE entry to the park for the day.
- Be sure to bring some gardening gloves, hand trowels/loppers, and a picnic lunch.
- Ages 5 and up.
- Afterwards enjoy a walk through the majestic Big Hendy Grove.
TRUMP’S BIG PARADE
So the president wants a big military parade. I expect his next revelation will be the need for a grand uniform suitable for the president of the United States. I can see it now: lots of gold braid and plumage with a magnificent array of medals he can award to himself for his never-before-matched achievements and, of course, a really big hat.
He won’t be marching in the parade, however, since, as we know, he has an aversion to actually serving in the military due to his sore feet. Too bad the draft-dodger-in-chief missed out on serving since he would have gotten a big dose of marching in boot camp.
Rep. Mike Thompson got it right when he responded to the parade idea with the thought that the money Donald Trump would spend on a parade would be better used to fund services benefiting veterans.
RUSSIAN GULCH WATERFALL
(Photo by Judy Valadao)
WHAT IS STALLING WRONGFUL INJURY LAWYERS?
by Ralph Nader
Up against four decades of megacorporate erosion of wrongfully injured Americans’ access to our courts, trial lawyers are wondering what use is left of the Seventh Amendment, our constitutional right to trial by jury?
Indentured lawmakers pass laws blocking or obstructing harmed individuals who are simply seeking fair compensation for their medical expenses, wage loss and suffering as a result of actions committed by their wrongdoers. Corporations, with their fine print consumer contracts, are eluding justice for some serious crimes by employing compulsory arbitration clauses, which preemptively force victims into closed, private arbitration (in lieu of trial by jury) and block the wrongfully injured from getting their day in open court.
It’s unavoidable. Chances are you sign such clauses regularly without ever knowing it. Everywhere, lawsuits, jury trials and verdicts are diminishing in the midst of population growth and ever more invasive technologies, drugs, chemicals, and many other products—all with the very real potential to suffer from dangerous defects, and all bearing built-in immunities for the guilty parties, should these defects come to light. Indeed, the vast majority of fatalities and serious injuries from preventable causes in the health care industry, factories, mines, drillers and hurtful products never even see an attorney.
Still the corporate lobbies, led by the insurance industry, keep pressing to block the courtroom door and avoid accepting responsibility for their injurious deeds.
They built this system of justice, but collectively, they have not been up to defending and preserving it from the mounting counterattacks.
The trial lawyers cannot match their adversaries in political contributions. However, there is one simple thing they could do. Should they deign to return the calls of consumer, environmental and labor groups wishing to forge alliances at the grass roots, such a union of minds could turn the tide for the trial lawyers who have long been on the defensive. Bear in mind, the law of wrongful injury (tort law) defends all the people regardless of political persuasion, race, gender or economic background. An unbeatable coalition could be assembled.
For over fifty years, I’ve been fighting, as a volunteer, for more appropriate utilization of our civil justice system to further its goals of compensation for the wrongfully injured, public disclosure of hazards, consequences for crimes against innocent victims and the environment, and deterrence against culpable actors. This effort is part and parcel of consumer, environmental and worker safety movements. In fact, the dangers that prompted safety legislation and regulations were often first disclosed by personal injury lawsuits.
Yet, with luminous exceptions, most major plaintiff law firms are not responding to the mobilization of these constituencies. They tend to their selected clients as attorneys but do not flex their muscles and resources as proactive lawyers by addressing the overall crisis that is the slow-motion destruction of civil justice.
Their adversaries have established so-called “lawsuit abuse” groups in numerous states and activated their dealers, agents and professional societies to keep the siege on our Seventh Amendment rights proliferating with wildly inaccurate assertions and hyperbolic anecdotes.
Inexplicably, these successful law firms will not protect the dwindling forest for the few trees they are nurturing. You call them for collaborative projects and their secretaries keep saying they are “in deposition” or are “on conference calls” that seem to occur perpetually.
I suspect that they are just not interested enough, no matter their enormous wealth from contingent fees in such areas as the great tobacco, asbestos, drug, oil spill or motor vehicle class actions. They have not built collateral civic institutions to begin to match their opponents even though these civic groups would be speaking for tens of millions of families.
In an open letter to plaintiff attorneys circulated in 2012, I described how the great law of torts is under assault and demands a multidimensional mobilization of the public. It was overwhelmingly ignored.
On September 29, 2016, we organized the first ever national celebration of this pillar of private justice at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Some of the region’s leading trial lawyers promised to bring people out and help with the expenses. They struck out.
There was a time twenty-five to fifty years ago when trial lawyers recognized the necessity of community education. They offered seminars in property, consumer, personal injury, civil rights and contract law in a program called The People’s Law School. Others joined with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health to share little known product and environmental hazards discovered in their litigation which they hoped would foster broader protections. They started, at my suggestion, a marvelous non-profit litigation group called Public Justice in 1982 that brings fundamental court cases unlikely to be brought by commercial attorneys.
Presently, personal injury lawyers, except for the few rich ones, are not making big money. They are discouraged. Their own state trial lawyer associations report dwindling membership, smaller budgets and less engagement. Whole areas of practice are nearly disappearing, as in California with its draconian statutory caps and other restrictions on litigating serious medical malpractice injuries, which limit compensation to $250,000—regardless of the severity of the injury—for a lifetime of pain and suffering. (See my letter to Governor Jerry Brown.)
But there is one smallish firm in California that shows their colleagues just what can be accomplished for the American people by combining logical vision with enabling resources for the common good.
I’ll describe what this firm has done for America in next week’s column, and ask the question, what are many larger personal injury firms waiting for?
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)
PARTY ON, DUDES
by James Kunstler
As of this week, the shale oil miracle launched US oil production above the 1970 previous-all-time record at just over ten million barrels a day. Techno-rapturists are celebrating what seems to be a blindingly bright new golden age of energy greatness. Independent oil analyst Art Berman, who made the podcast rounds the last two weeks, put it in more reality-accessible terms: “Shale is a retirement party for the oil industry.”
It was an impressive stunt and it had everything to do with the reality-optional world of bizarro finance that emerged from the wreckage of the 2008 Great Financial Crisis. In fact, a look the chart below shows how exactly the rise of shale oil production took off after that milestone year of the long emergency. Around that time, US oil production had sunk below five million barrels a day, and since we were burning through around twenty million barrels a day, the rest had to be imported.
In June of 2008, US crude hit $144-a-barrel, a figure so harsh that it crippled economic activity — since just about everything we do depends on oil for making, enabling, and transporting stuff. The price and supply of oil became so problematic after the year 2000 that the US had to desperately engineer a work-around to keep this hyper-complex society operating. The “solution” was debt. If you can’t afford to run your society, then try borrowing from the future to keep your mojo working.
The shale oil industry was a prime beneficiary of this new hyper-debt regime. The orgy of borrowing was primed by Federal Reserve “creation” of trillions of dollars of “capital” out of thin air (QE: Quantitative Easing), along with supernaturally low interest rates on the borrowed money (ZIRP: Zero Interest Rate Policy). The oil companies were desperate in 2008. They were, after all, in the business of producing… oil! (Duh….) — even if a giant company like BP pretended for a while that its initials stood for “Beyond Petroleum.”
The discovery of new oil had been heading down remorselessly for decades, to the point that the world was fatally short of replacing the oil it used every year with new supply. The last significant big fields — Alaska, the North Sea, and Siberia — had been discovered in the 1960s and we knew for sure that the first two were well past their peaks in the early 2000s. By 2005, most of the theoretically producible new oil was in places that were difficult and ultra-expensive to drill in: deep water, for instance, where you need a giant platform costing hundreds of millions of dollars, not to mention armies of highly skilled (highly paid) technicians, plus helicopters to service the rigs. The financial risk (for instance, of drilling a “dry hole”) was matched by the environmental risk of a blowout, which is exactly what happened to BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon platform in the Gulf of Mexico, with clean-up costs estimated at $61 billion.
Technology — that El Dorado of the Mind — rode to the rescue with horizontal drilling and fracturing of ”tight” oil-bearing shale rock. It was tight because of low permeability, meaning the oil didn’t flow through it the way it flowed through normal oil-bearing rocks like sandstone. You had to sink a pipe down, angle it horizontally into a strata of shale only a few meters thick, and then blast it apart with water under pressure and particles of sand or ceramic called propants, the job of which was to hold open those fractures so the oil could be sucked out. Well, it worked. The only problem was you couldn’t make any money doing it.
The shale oil companies could get plenty of cash-flow going, but it all went to servicing their bonds or other “innovative” financing schemes, and for many of the companies the cash flow wasn’t even covering those costs. It cost at least six million dollars for each shale well, and it was in the nature of shale oil that the wells depleted so quickly that after Year Three they were pretty much done. But it was something to do, at least, if you were an oil company — an alternative to 1) doing no business at all, or 2) getting into some other line-of-work, like making yoga pants or gluten-free cupcakes.
The two original big shale plays, the Bakken in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford in south Texas, have now apparently peaked and the baton has passed to the Permian Basin in west Texas. If the first two bonanzas were characteristic of shale, we can look forward not very far into the future when the Permian also craps out. There are only so many “sweet spots” in these plays.
The unfortunate part of the story is that the shale oil miracle only made this country more delusional at a moment in history when we really can’t afford to believe in fairy tales. The financial world is just now entering a long overdue crack-up due to the accumulating unreality induced by Federal Reserve interventions and machinations in markets. As it continues to get unglued — with rising interest rates especially — we will begin to see the collapse of the bonding and financing arrangements that the fundamentally unprofitable shale “miracle” has been based on. And then you will see the end of the shale “miracle.” It is likely to happen very quickly. It was fun while it lasted. Now comes the hard part: getting through this without the nation completely losing its marbles and doing something stupid and desperate — like starting another merry little war.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page: https://www.patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler)
MEMO OF THE AIR: Good Night Radio on KNYO and KMEC tonight!
As of this writing there's still, oh, I dunno, an hour to email your writing to be read on MOTA.Just paste your poem or essay or kvetch or sale item or whatever into the body text of an email, check that it's going to me and not to the whole group, unless that's what you want, and press send. If you're reading this after that, it's never too late, just send it anyway and I'll read it on next week's show.
Tonight the show is by live remote from Juanita's place, not from Franklin Street. So if you want to talk in person about your project or read aloud your own writing, or bring your instrument(s) and/or fellow instrumentalists and play a short set, or try out your stand-up act, you can drop by 325 N. Franklin, next door to the Tip Top bar, after 9pm and just waltz in. Head for the lighted room at the back and clear your throat or clap your hands or something, next week, Feb. the 16th. Because I'm not there tonight. Tonight I'll be in my flannel pyjamas and lucky fluffy two-tone bathrobe at the typing table next to the bed at Juanita's, and probably using the old toy tablet to play music breaks, because my Windows 10 laptop is taking for fricking ever to finish its housekeeping and upgrading and updating and twirling on its thumb. "Microsoft can't install important security updates on your PC until you install the most current version of Windows 10." (Which it's been doing since I switched it on two hours ago. It's like at 60 percent.) "To ensure things go smoothly: Keep your PC plugged in! Don't turn off your PC or close it!" Windows 10, ladies and gentlemen. The Windows XP, Windows 7, Linux and Android computers in my life are all running like a top, if a hair slower, though that might be my imagination. Make of it what you will.
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio: Every Friday, 9pm to about 4am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg, and 105.1fm KMEC-LP Ukiah. And also there and anywhere else via http://knyo.org or if that doesn't work for you try http://TuneIn.com and look up KNYO-LP.
In other, similar news: You can have your own whole show on KNYO and never have to depend on me at all, though I'm happy to help you get started: Contact Bob Young: email@example.com and introduce yourself and be prepared to answer when he says, right off the bat: "What time were you thinking you'd like your show to be on?"
FIRE DEBRIS REMOVAL
Dave Fogt, Registrar Contractor State Licensing Board
Re: Fire Debris Removal
Please find below a summary version of the references I am relying upon to come to the conclusion that a California Contractors License and Hazardous Substance Removal Certification are required for the fire debris cleanup in Mendocino County. I am aware the State of Emergency declarations suspend some State regulations, but I have not found a reference to suspending the regulations in the State Business and Professions Code relevant to contractors licensing and the handling hazardous waste. The fire debris would first need to be assessed by a qualified asbestos consultant. If the site is cleared of asbestos, then the site should be cleared of visually obvious hazardous waste/ materials by an appropriately licensed professional and contractor. Then the fire debris at a specific site should be tested for Title 22 Metals and pH (at a minimum) at a frequency sufficient to be considered representative. If the metals analyses results are below TTLC Limits, and if subsequent STLC and TCLP analyses results are below toxicity limits, and the pH is greater than 2 and less than 12.5, the material could be handled and disposed of as non-hazardous (assuming no suspect hazardous materials are uncovered during the debris removal process). Absent the fact set just described above, the material needs to be handled by an appropriately licensed State of California Contractor, with a Hazardous Substances Removal Certification in my opinion. Brian Melvin letter dated January 21, 2018, had not a word with regards to CSLB Hazardous Substance Removal Certification ! and was convoluted at best.
Please see the references below to support my opinion:
Govenor's Executive Order B-44-17
"...WHEREAS the local health officers of Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Sonoma, and Yuba Counties have all proclaimed local health emergencies, pursuant to Health and Safety Code section 101080, as a result of this hazardous debris..."
HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE - 101080.
(Underline Added for Emphasis)
“…Whenever a release, spill, escape, or entry of waste occurs as described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 101075 and the director or the local health officer reasonably determines that the waste is a hazardous waste or medical waste, or that it may become a hazardous waste or medical waste because of a combination or reaction with other substances or materials, and the director or local health officer reasonably determines that the release or escape is an immediate threat to the public health, or whenever there is an imminent and proximate threat of the introduction of any contagious, infectious, or communicable disease, chemical agent, non communicable biologic agent, toxin, or radioactive agent, the director may declare a health emergency and the local health officer may declare a local health emergency in the jurisdiction or any area thereof affected by the threat to the public health. Whenever a local health emergency is declared by a local health officer pursuant to this section, the local health emergency shall not remain in effect for a period in excess of seven days unless it has been ratified by the board of supervisors, or city council, whichever is applicable to the jurisdiction. The board of supervisors, or city council, if applicable, shall review, at least every 14 days until the local health emergency is terminated, the need for continuing the local health emergency and shall proclaim the termination of the local health emergency at the earliest possible date that conditions warrant the termination.
Mendocino County 2017 Redwood Complex Fire Debris Cleanup and Removal Program
(Underline added for Emphasis)
“…2) Property Owners Who Elect to Not Participate in the Consolidated Debris Removal Program Property owners who choose to not participate in the Consolidated Debris Removal Program are required to remediate their property and remove the burn debris in accordance with the Mendocino County Debris Removal Program and “self-certification” process, at their own expense. Property owners may complete the remediation and debris removal with a qualified contractor. Due to the Proclamation of a Local Health Emergency, the work must be completed in a manner that ensures the protection of public health and safety. It is strongly advised that property owners review all requirements thoroughly before pursuing their own debris removal. Disaster funding will not reimburse for this work, and a Building Permit to rebuild will not be issued unless the property has been remediated to the standards established herein.
Declaration of Health Emergency Mendocino County Pursuant to California Health and Safety Code Section 101080 ( I assume this was renewed, as it was in Sonoma County)
“… WHEREAS the debris resulting from Redwood Fire contains hazardous material in the ash of the burned structures, which has created a health emergency and poses a substantial present and potential hazard to human health and safety and to the environment unless it is addressed and managed; and…
WHEREAS under the provisions of section 101080 of the California Health and Safety Code, Local the Health Officer may declare a local health emergency in the jurisdiction or in any area thereof affected by hazardous material that is an imminent threat to the public's health; and
WHEREAS under the provisions of section 101080 of the California Health and Safety Code, I find that a local health emergency exists in Mendocino County due to the debris resulting from the Redwood Fire, that contains hazardous material in the ash of the burned structures, and poses a substantial present and potential hazard to human health and safety and to the environment, unless it is addressed and managed; and…
NOW THEREFORE I HEREBY DECLARE AND ORDER that a health emergency exists in Mendocino County due to the debris resulting from the Redwood Fire that contains hazardous material in the ash of the burned structures…."
Hazardous Substance Removal Certification
“… Business & Professions Code
Division 3, Chapter 9. Contractors, Article 4. Classifications
7058.7. (a)No contractor shall engage in a removal or remedial action, as defined in subdivision (d), unless the qualifier for the license has passed an approved hazardous substance certification examination.
(1) The Contractors' State License Board, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health of the Department of Industrial Relations, and the Department of Toxic Substances Control shall jointly select an advisory committee, which shall be composed of two representatives of hazardous substance removal workers in California, two general engineering contractors in California, and two representatives of insurance companies in California who shall be selected by the Insurance Commissioner.
(2) The Contractors' State License Board shall develop a written test for the certification of contractors engaged in hazardous substance removal or remedial action, in consultation with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the State Water Resources Control Board, the Department of Toxic Substances Control, and the advisory committee.
(c)The Contractors' State License Board may require additional updated approved hazardous substance certification examinations of licensees currently certified based on new public or occupational health and safety information. The Contractors' State License Board, in consultation with the Department of Toxic Substances Control and the State Water Resources Control Board, shall approve other initial and updated hazardous substance certification examinations and determine whether to require an updated certification examination of all current certificate holders.
(d) For purposes of this section "removal or remedial action" has the same meaning as found in Chapter 6.8 (commencing with Section 25300) of Division 20 of the Health and Safety Code, if the action requires the contractor to dig into the surface of the earth and remove the dug material and the action is at a site listed pursuant to Section 25356 of the Health and Safety Code or any other site listed as a hazardous waste site by the Department of Toxic Substances Control or a site listed on the National Priorities List compiled pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 9601 et seq.). "Removal or remedial action" does not include asbestos-related work, as defined in Section 6501.8 of the Labor Code, or work related to a hazardous substance spill on a highway.”
California Code, Health and Safety Code - HSC § 25356
“… (a)(1) The department shall adopt, by regulation, criteria for the selection of hazardous substance release sites for a response action under this chapter. The criteria shall take into account pertinent factors relating to public health, safety and the environment, which shall include, but are not necessarily limited to, potential hazards to public health, safety or the environment, the risk of fire or explosion, and toxic hazards …”
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or need additional information.
Lee Howard, Ukiah
Lee Howard Construction Co
CSLB Lic # 280777 A,C12,C34, C42, C31. C13,(Haz)
'CLIMATE LEADERS' JUSTIN TRUDEAU AND JERRY BROWN ARE BOTH PROMOTERS OF OIL INDUSTRY EXPANSION
by Dan Bacher
After going to yesterday’s “Save Our Coast” rally against offshore oil drilling in Sacramento, where not one single politician mentioned the massive expansion of offshore drilling in state waters under “climate leader” Jerry Brown, I felt very frustrated.
One politician after another delivered the false narrative that “California would resist Trump’s plan to open the coast to new offshore oil drilling” when Jerry Brown has already done in the state waters off Ventura and Los Angeles counties what Trump would like to do in federal waters — expand offshore oil drilling.
However, I was elated this morning to receive the following statement from Patrick McCully, Climate and Energy Program Director at the Rainforest Action Network, about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to meet with Brown here in California. McCully gets it right, unlike many politicians, NGOs and media outlets:
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor Jerry Brown are birds of a feather in claiming climate leadership while encouraging the expansion of the oil industry. Trudeau is currently bullying British Columbia into accepting Texas company Kinder Morgan’s dirty tar sands mega-pipeline, which the province’s government and its First Nations have made clear they don’t want. Meanwhile Brown has long refused to take action against fracking and other dirty oil extraction in California. We can’t afford for our climate leaders to be fossil fuel pushers.”
Patrick, thanks so much for having the courage to reveal what is really going with the current oil drilling expansion in both California and Canada!
On Friday, local climate justice activists opposed to the Kinder Morgans pipeline protested outside the hotel where Trudeau was staying: globalnews.ca/.
Today, Brown met with Trudeau in San Francisco, where the two leaders pledged to "expand cooperation on climate action, trade and criminal justice reform."
“We've got a lot to do with Canada while our Washington government is temporarily missing in action,” claimed Governor Brown at the opening of today’s meeting. “In terms of climate action, California and more than a dozen other [U.S.] states are taking real action. I'm looking forward to forging agreements with various provinces in Canada and particularly in zero-emission vehicles — electric cars, hydrogen cars. I'm hoping Canada, California and the rest of America can really commit to developing the technologies that will allow us to have zero-emission vehicles be a big part of our future.”
However, it appears that Brown is also "missing in action" when it comes to stopping the expansion of fracking, steam injection and other extreme oil extraction techniques in California.
Here are the facts: Jerry Brown’s regulators have approved 238 new offshore oil wells in state waters under existing leases, an increase of 17 percent since 2012, according to analysis by the nonprofit FracTracker Alliance.
According to the Fracktracker Alliance:
"FracTracker Alliance reviewed the data published by DOGGR on permitted offshore wells. (DOGGR refers to the Division of Oil, Gas, & Geothermal Resources, which regulates drilling in CA). Using API identification numbers as a timeline, we actually find that it is likely that 238 wells have been drilled offshore since the start of 2012. The DOGGR database only lists “spud” (drilling) and completion dates for 71 – a mere 1.3% of the 5,435 total offshore wells. DOGGR reports that 1,366 offshore wells are currently active production wells. It must be noted that these numbers are only estimations, since operators have a 2-year window to drill wells after receiving a permit and API number.
Using these methods of deduction, we find that since the beginning of 2012 the majority of offshore wells have been drilled offshore of Los Angeles County in the Wilmington Oil Field (204 in total); followed by 25 offshore in the Huntington Beach field; 7 in the West Montalvo field offshore of Ventura County, and 1 in the Belmont field, also offshore of Ventura County. Additionally, the Center for Biological Diversity reports that at least 200 of the wells off California’s coast have been hydraulically fractured."
The FracTacker Alliance report is available here: https://www.fractracker.org/2017/02/more-offshore-drilling-ca/
Why is Jerry Brown such a loyal servant of the oil industry? It might have something to do with the fact that Brown has received over $9.8 million from oil companies, gas companies and utilities since he ran for his third term as governor, according to Consumer Watchdog. For more information on Governor Brown and his so-called "green" policies, see: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/sites/default/files/2017-09/how_green_is_brown.pdf
Big Oil also wields enormous influence over the California Legislature, such huge influence that every bill except one opposed by the oil industry has failed to make it out of the Legislature over the past three years. Big Oil dominated three out of the four top spots of expenditures by all lobbying organizations in 2017, according to documents from the California Secretary of State’s Office.
Outspending all of their competition, Chevron placed first with $8.2 million and the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the trade association for the oil industry in the states of California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona, spent $6.2 million. Tesoro Refining and Marketing Company finished fourth with $3.2 million. You can find the information on spending by employers of lobbyists here: cal-access.sos.ca.gov/…
That’s a total of $17.6 million dumped into lobbying by the three top oil industry lobbying organizations alone. That figure exceeds the $14,577,314 expended by all 16 oil lobby organizations in 2016.
The California Oil Lobby was the biggest spender in the 2015-16 legislative session, spending an amazing $36.1 million on lobbying over the two-year period. Big Oil spending last session amounted to $1.5 million per month — nearly $50,000 per day.
WSPA and Big Oil use their money and power in 5 ways: through (1) lobbying; (2) campaign spending; (3) creating Astroturf groups: 4) working in collaboration with media; and (5) getting appointed to positions on and influencing regulatory panels, as in the case of the privately Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create faux “marine protected areas” in Southern California.