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Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, Feb 13, 2018

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VAL MUCHOWSKI WRITES: "Anderson Valley's Rancheria High School's fate will be determined on Tuesday at 4pm at the AV Cafeteria. If you know anyone who has attended or graduated from RHS, let's show up! Our kids deserve better!" Ms. Muchowski is a former teacher at the school. Justin Rhoades adds that the school board will also discuss other personnel cuts as well affecting all three schools.

ASKED LATE MONDAY AFTERNOON if Rancheria was on the chopping block, Superintendent Hutchins replied: "The short answer is no. Earlier in the year, the Board appointed an advisory committee to give recommendations on ways to reduce the expenditures of the District. One of the many creative ideas the committee considered was temporarily suspending Rancheria High School and moving the program to the main high school campus. As the committee examined the cost benefits, in closer detail, the benefit to the budget was not enough to warrant temporarily suspending the Rancheria program. It is no longer included in the proposals going to the Board tomorrow."

ACCORDING to an attached budget reduction chart the school is considering five cost-cutting scenarios, most of which involve teacher reductions through attrition, and administrative staff cuts.

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(For Valentine’s Day)


Getting married is all about

Finding that piece of chocolate you like

more than all the others in the box.


But staying married is all about

Picking up that piece of chocolate and brushing it off

Every time it falls on the floor and gets covered in crap.


–Justine Frederiksen

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by Rex Gressett

The forced retirement of Linda Ruffing, the long time Fort Bragg City Manager, becomes, at long last a reality at Monday night’s City Council meeting. Tabatha Miller, Administrative Director from Havasu City, Arizona, has been hired to replace her. The meeting begins at 6pm. The regular meeting will be preceded by a 5pm reception in celebration of Ms. Ruffing’s service to the city. I would not miss it.

Ms. Miller has eighteen years of experience in local city government, 12 as department head. She has degrees in both law and accounting. Ms Miller is also a marathon runner and has occasionally vacationed in our fair city. She will be paid $140,000 a year, $25,000 less than our outgoing City Manager. Her contract, like that of her predecessor, is open ended. She will be arriving at our door in a couple of weeks. Scott Schneider, City Hall’s administrative coordinator, will serve as the interim City Manager during the short gap between Linda and Tabatha.

There were six finalists for the position including Ms. Miller. The hiring process was conducted exclusively in closed session. It was the decision of the city council that the controversies surrounding the City Manager and the intense public indignation that led to her fall be conveyed second-hand and privately (gently) to her successor. There was some discussion at the outset of the hiring process of having the applicants meet the people of the city. Didn't happen. It could have been salutary. I wonder if Ms. Miller has any idea what she is walking into.

For almost two decades whether you supported Linda Ruffing or opposed her, there was no doubt who ran the city. Decades of City Councils just watched her roll. Supporters of Ms. Ruffing, and there were many, characterized her as a "strong woman.” They said it with pride, a little smugly, as if Linda had provided a unique antidote to the messiness of small town governance. We were so clever to have found her. Like Mussolini, she had the trains running on time. She only got stronger right up to the bitter end. Gradually strong came to mean something else. Ultimately it destroyed her. Linda Ruffing ascended to preeminence in the aftermath of the closure of the mammoth Georgia Pacific Lumber mill. The abrupt unapologetic closure of the great mill seemed to doom the city. Generations of families had worked so hard, built our excellent little redwood bungalows and our fine schools. We had a brass band, a resolute independence and a contentious if deeply respected, self aware, civic government.

Little Fort Bragg nestled in the shadow of the forest far "over the hill" from relentlessly modernizing California was an island, almost a land apart. In the days of the mill, the city could claim a rare autonomy. When the mill was operating Fort Bragg was not rich, but it was curiously prosperous. On the strength of rough unremitting labor, concentrated in that single employer, the city cultivated a fine decency. Any one who wanted to work, could work at the mill; people knew their neighbors and their children could stay in town after they graduated and work alongside their fathers. Governing ourselves by an elected council was our privilege and our pride. Work at the mill was the substance of our civic identity. Vigorous contention on the city council was routine.

Georgia-Pacific had cut most of the merchantable trees and soon shut the mill. The survival of the city in any recognizable form, seemed improbable. The City Council, arbiter and governor of prosperity, had only the traditions and sensibility of a working town. Take work out of the equation and no conceivable scenario seemed to balance. In the dull panic and unimaginative bumbling of the elected leaders, the City Manager found an opportunity to gradually dominate and finally largely discount the City Council. With a busy disdain for the impractical past, Linda Ruffing explained things to us.

In a "general law" city, which Fort Bragg is, California law establishes the division of power between the City Council and the City Manager. The vision thing belongs to the council, practical application is the responsibility of the City Manager. In the circumstance of a sinking ship, practical application is an unmistakable priority.

And yet when the mill closed the city did not die. Linda Ruffing was given full credit for our survival. The extraordinary coastal beauty and the compact tidy village brought in retirees and others of independent means. New folks bought the millworker houses, very often the larger houses of the managing class. The big houses on the north side became a bastion of new residents who were fine with progress, and in harmony with Ms. Ruffing’s professional modernity. The steady river of state funding on which any small California city depends did not disappear. Ruffing enhanced our civic income with the aggressive pursuit of grants. The old families of working class Fort Bragg were sidelined and largely forgotten. In large part the hard pressed former millworkers stopped voting, stopped paying attention. It was all pretty heady stuff for Linda Ruffing. She worked hard at the grant game and built a firm constituency on the grants the city gained from our economically disadvantaged status. Linda Ruffing loyalists tumbled into the city council aggressively content to let city manager run with the ball. For the better part of two decades once vibrant Fort Bragg city council meetings played to a literally empty town hall. From 2008-2010 no one even ran for the council. Sheepishly they reappointed each other. Ruffing’s council voted without dissension or debate and bragged that they had achieved a utopia so perfect that harmony and congeniality were the signature of their success.

The concentration of power in the office of the City Manager perhaps inevitably wrought its own destruction. Two seismic events shattered the complacency and awoke a voting majority in the city perhaps 40% greater than the grant-purchased Ruffing constituency. Both incidents were flagrant insults to the city. The first was unforgivable. The city never forgave it. I certainly never will.

Scott Mayberry, son of a famous Fort Bragg Chief of Police, drop kicked a superlatively successful career in law enforcement over the hill to come home as the Fort Bragg Chief of Police. He worked harder at the job than anyone before or since. His commitment to the city was passionate. In a tiny city we have officially only two cops on the beat at any one time, occasionally but intermittently there are as many as four. Most chiefs of police do not do car patrols personally. Scott always did. He was forever on the streets of the city. He was a ruthlessly effective manager. He knew the city police had problems. He would work so long and so hard that in the depths of the night his wife would ride shotgun with him just so they could spend a few hours together. Scott Mayberry was and is of a caliber that any city in America would intensely value. We had him. When a madman killed perhaps the most beloved deputy in our history, the wonderful Ricky Del Fiorentino, Scott Mayberry at great risk of his life got the SOB. I have told the story at length elsewhere. Every single person in the city knows it.

Incomprehensibly, incredibly in the wake of the Del Fiorentino tragedy, blood, and heroism, City Manager Linda Ruffing for the sake of personal control and power, and for no other reason, cost us our finest Police Chief. It was vicious, it was inexcusable and it was unnecessary. Not that much was said; no one could believe it; but no one in Fort Bragg ever forgot.

Then in 2014 in a real estate scam that would have shocked the boys at Tammany Hall, Linda Ruffing rammed through a deal for her loyal constituency of supporters, riding the grant based social services gravy train to turn over the famous Old Coast Hotel to scoundrels pretending to help the homeless. It was supposed to be a shelter. Instead it turned out to be the private offices of a well heeled elite of dismally unproductive loafers. The people of the city were given a minimal four day notice from the announcement of the deal to the council vote. The city erupted.

In two subsequent election cycles the people of Fort Bragg unceremoniously rejected Ms. Ruffing and her private City Council. Doug Hammerstrom, Scott Deitz, Meg Courtney, and the rest of them either withdrew from the council or were defeated in election. All of them were and are unelectable in the City of Fort Bragg. The new City Council got themselves elected by one overriding commitment to the voters, get rid of Ruffing. Now they have.

A new Era has begun.

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(Click to enlarge)

(Photo by Judy Valadao)

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TED WILLIAMS, 5th District Supervisorial Candidate, will be at Lauren’s Restaurant in Boonville on Friday, February 23, 2018 from 3-5pm.

His Experience: Fire Chief of Albion‐Little River; Business owner and Software Developer; Author of 2 County Measures that improve fire services; Father and husband.

Some Priorities: Establish county‐wide Internet; Increase Affordable Housing; Encourage Livable Wage Jobs; Strengthen Fire & Emergency Services; Protect Our Environment.

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ANON FOREST posted the following on Kym Kemp's Redheaded Blackbelt page. If Ms. Forest has specifics to back her claims, we'd like to see them.

Anon Forest on Sheriff Allman _ pot cop corruption:

When Allman was elected MCSO the first time, a neighbor and I made an 8 am meeting with him for the purpose of cluing him in on the extracurricular incomes throughout the cop system, from CAMP, the DEA, MCSO, etc.

We had hired a PI, and had proof enough for indictments. Despite having won the election thanks to the endorsement of Tony Craver (former MCSO sheriff) who actually WAS an honest cop, Allman blew us off. We figured it out right then: Power Corrupts. Period. Teach your children well.

The likes of Reno Bartolomie and Tony Craver will never walk among us again. Ever.

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NOT IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD. Opponents of the proposed cell phone tower atop the Holmes Ranch are not confined to tin foil hat types, but are mostly people alarmed by recent reports that seem to confirm negative effects on the brain from exposure to towers placed on firehouses in Southern California. KPIX Television recently offered a segment on the firehouse findings.

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GREETINGS FAIR FANS from Donna Pierson-Pugh:

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 you’re 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.

EDITORIAL COMMENT: The Fair needs to boost itself via a comprehensive booth fee reduction that would attract a lot more in-County participation. Boonville’s beloved weekly newspaper enjoyed the three years we bought booth space at $490 plus insurance, the cost of which we mostly recovered via the sale of books and remnant t-shirts. The Fair contributed…well, nothing, beyond directing us to the spot where we could erect our own booth and place our own table. And we were stuck between a pair of the most undesirable neighbors conceivable, the Democrats and the Republicans! $490 to spend a weekend with Hillary and Trump? I ask you.

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The certified BFM vendors recently voted on the future of the Boonville Farmer's Market. 12 vendors were polled and 8 of them responded.

Item 1: Whether to stay with MCFarm or become a renegade market.

7 vendors voted to stay with MCFarm

1 vendor opted not to vote but voiced a complaint that the market needed more local support. It is suspected that we all share the same opinion.

Item 2: Whether to approve Trout as the Interim Market Manager

8 vendors voted to approve Trout.

No one opposed the proposal.

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(Click to enlarge)

(Photo by Dick Whetstone)

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THE SWINGIN BOONVILLE BIG BAND 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.

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Sleet Sunday, frigid Monday. I mention the cold, and one of these guys says, ‘God gave you fur, Little Dog. Count your blessings, you infidel, you ingrate’.”

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IT'LL BE A HOT ONE! “Dear KZYX board candidate, Thank you for your interest in holding a seat on our Board of Directors. We are in the process of organizing an on-air candidate's forum. This will be held Monday March 5th at 7:00PM in Ukiah. Once the location is secured we will let you know. We look forward to seeing you then. Ed Keller, Election coordinator, KZYX.”

MY ONLY FEAR is election, the remotest of remote possibilities because local public radio is a closely held private club, a kind of parthenogenic entity capable only of exact duplication of itself. But on the off chance you’re interested, I agitate for the following: An end to legacy blacklisting (a dozen or so people have been non-personed since the station’s virgin birth); a clearly drawn annual budget; the combining of the positions of station manager and program director, neither of which seem to have specific duties but no duties that can’t be dispatched by one person; and an hour of purely local news every weekday morning supplemented by call-ins). Anything unreasonable here? he asked, stifling a scream. (KZYX always reminds me of that ancient joke about academic infighting being so nasty because the stakes are so small.)

DEBRA KEIPP WRITES: "I went in on the 30th to apply for the KZYX board of directors. I filled out paperwork and they told me I had to be a member. I'd just been to Santa Rosa for minor surgery and hadn’t taken much money or valuables with me, as directed. I didn't have $50 on me to pay membership that day. The next morning, the 31st, while driving to Philo, I heard on the ten o'clock show the announcement that that day was the deadline to sign up to run for the board. The 31st! So I stopped in and paid my membership @$50! The next day I received an email saying that in good conscience, they could not accept my application for the board."

HUH? "Good conscience?" That's almost funny, but they may have some rule — the ink in the rule book at the Philo bunker is never dry — about being a member for the year prior to a rubber stamp anointment, er, election.

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HAPPY ST VALENTINE’S DAY! Here are some words of wisdom on the topic of ‘Love’ that would be appropriate for this week. First, let’s bring in the author Katherine Mansfield (1888 -1923) who wittily observed, “If only one could tell true love from false love, as one can tell mushrooms from toadstools”. And this from Diane Arbus (1923–1971), the American photographer and writer, who wrote, “Love involves a peculiar, unfathomable combination of understanding and misunderstanding”. The list would not be complete without a contribution from my old friend Bill Shakespeare (1564-1616) the English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. Here’s his classic line from ‘Twelfth Night’ – “If music be the food of love, play on.” And let’s finish with Valley resident and author, poet, and activist, Alice Walker (1944-?) whose words we could all live by, “I have learned not to worry about love; but to honor its coming with all of my heart.”

–Steve Sparks

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CATCH OF THE DAY, February 12, 2018

Ammerman, Arnold, Barry

MORGAN AMMERMAN, Ukiah. Under influence, failure to appear. (Frequent flyer.)

SHANNON ARNOLD, Santa Barbara/Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

WILLIAM BARRY, Ukiah. Disoderly conduct-alcohol, failure to appear. (Frequent flyer.)

Bassett, Broyles, Fitch, Gitchel

EASTON BASSETT, Ukiah. Under influence, vandalism, resisting.

JORDAN BROYLES, Fort Bragg. Paraphernalia, receiving stolen property.

JOSEPH FITCH, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, controlled substance without prescription, receiving stolen property.

ANDREW GITCHEL, Potter Valley. Grand theft auto, burglary, receiving stolen property.

Hensley, Pareneau, Ponis, Timberlake

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

ANTHONY PARENTEAU, Clearlake Oaks/Ukiah. Attempted grand theft, receiving stolen property.

ERIC PONIS, Willits. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, failure to appear.

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, Redwood Valley. Indecent exposure, parole violation. (Frequent flyer.)

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William Barry, Dustin Hoffman

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THE MARIJUANA SITUATION: This is the natural end result of spreading the pot wealth from a closed clique of 'gunrunner mentality' people where their evil was tolerable because it was small (and their violence kept the profits to themselves) to a wide open green rush. There is a natural sense of satisfaction that the smaller group who used to abuse others in the pursuit of their own pot of gold are now feeling the same abuse themselves. And the more they scream and complain, the more they satisfy those who had to deal with the frustration of obnoxious, self-righteous growers of earlier decades.

You were ugly neighbors. It is just right, that having been uninterested in your non-pot neighbors while you did what you wanted and flipped off those who objected, that you now have to deal with many multiples of yourself in turn. That longed-for open society you harped on isn’t so bright and shiny up close and personal.

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WHEN I WOULD WAKE UP the next day after a night like that going on a trip like that, and you wake up the next day and that is all gone, that liquid courage or that liquid like sense of euphoria that is over you, is all gone. You are left staring at the ceiling by yourself, thinking about all the mistakes you made in your life, what did that get me?

— Johnny Manziel

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Cat owners who allow their pets to hunt all day and into the night aren’t doing their pets any favors. The permissive owners’ pets put the natives in danger, place unwanted refuse in garden beds and caterwaul at night. There should be an ordinance speaking to this irresponsible behavior, if for no other reason, to protect the cats from accidents, disease and the unjustified anxiety of survival.

Just as there is an ordinance speaking to the illegal action of feeding cats on public lands or the action of trapping, neutering and returning (dumping) them back where they were caught as advocated by Forgotten Felines, we should mandate that our pet cats are controlled, just as we expect our dogs to be leashed while outdoors and any mess picked up.

One benefit to our wildlands is the active trapping and removal of cats from the burned and/or outdoor areas. Keep it up.

Roger Wilson

Santa Rosa

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Social media is ablaze with the following claims, some of which many want to be true:

That the world’s oil supply will be completely exhausted in three months, and that this fact is not being disclosed to avoid further market volatility.

That Hillary Clinton will soon be locked up, with the proviso she be allowed visits by Huma Abedin.

That Melania Trump hired an exorcist to “cleanse the White House of Obama’s demons”.

That Putin has issued an international arrest warrant for George Soros.

That NASA will pay you $18,000 to stay in bed for a week and smoke weed for 70 straight days.

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Boards and Commissions Vacancies

Supervisors, Community Partners, and Interested Parties:

The list of vacancies, due to term expirations and/or resignations, for County boards and commissions has been updated with new vacancies. A list of all new and existing vacancies is available on the County website:

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Oh, suddenly it's nothing to see on the way and it's nothing when I get there, and I'm in a coffeehouse, listening to a woman talk who's wearing more clothes than I have money in the world. She is adorned in yellow and jewelry and a language that I cannot understand. She is talking about something that is of no importance, insisting on it. I can tell all this because the man who is with her will buy none of it, and stares absent-mindedly at the universe. The man has not spoken a word since they sat down here with cups of espresso coffee accompanying them like small black dogs. Perhaps he does not care to speak any more. I think he is her husband. Suddenly she breaks into English. She says, "He should know. They're his flowers," in the only language I understand and there's no reply echoing all the way back to the beginning where nothing could ever have been any different. I was born forever to chronicle this: I don't know these people and they aren't my flowers.

(Richard Brautigan, A Study in California Flowers)

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"SANDHILL CRANES, Part of Mating Display"

(Click to enlarge)

(Photo by Harvey Reading

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by James Kunstler

A peculiar feature of the human condition is that a society in distress will call forth intellectual witch-doctors to put on a colorful show that distracts the supposedly thinking class from the insoluble quandaries that portend serious trouble ahead. This feature is on display these days in the person of freelance space pioneer Elon Musk. He intends to establish a human colony on Mars of one million people by 2040.

Musk, who is also developer of the Tesla line of electric cars and businesses that make solar-electric gear and batteries, has tested a series of space vehicles, most recently last week’s celebrated launch of his Falcon Heavy Rocket, said to be the most powerful in the world. It is just the precursor of the soon-to-come colossus Musk calls the BFR (“Big Fucking Rocket”) that will convey as many as 200 people at a time to their new home on the Red Planet.

NPR reporter Ari Shapiro was rhapsodizing about this “Space-X” project last week on the airwaves, lending it the media stamp-of-approval. And since NPR is a major news source for the US thinking class especially, you can be sure this meme of colonizing Mars is now embedded in the brains of the Pareto distribution (“the law of the vital few”) who affect to be thought leaders in this land.

There’s an old gag about the space race of yore that goes something like this (trigger warning to the ethnically hyper-sensitive):

The UN convenes a General Assembly session on space travel. The ambassadors of various nations are asked to talk about their space projects. The Russians and the Americans tick off their prior accomplishments and announce plans to explore the planets. Finally, the ambassador from Poland takes his turn at the rostrum. “We intend to land a man on the sun,” he declares. There is a great hubbub in the assembly, cries of “say, what…?” and “wait a minute now….” The Secretary-General turns to the Polish ambassador and says, “Your scientists must be out of their minds. It’s six thousand degrees up there! How can you possibly land a spacecraft on it?” A hush falls over the assembly. The Polish ambassador looks completely relaxed and serene. “We are going to do it at night!” he announces triumphantly.

NPR’s Shapiro interviewed blogger Tim Urban of the Wait But Why blog for the segment on Musk’s space program. Here’s a sample of their conversation:

URBAN: If humanity is, you know, like a precious photo album you’ve got, the Earth is like a hard drive you have it on. And any sane person would obviously back it up to a second hard drive. That’s kind of the idea here – is all of our eggs are currently on one planet. And if we can build a self-sustaining civilization on Mars, it’s much harder for humanity to go extinct.

SHAPIRO: And a million people is about how many people he thinks it would take for a population to be self-sustaining.

URBAN: Right, self-sustaining meaning if something catastrophic happened on Earth during some world war or something that has to do with, you know, a really bad-case scenario with climate change, maybe some – I don’t know – the species went extinct on Earth but ships stopped coming with supplies and anything else, a million people is enough that Mars’ population would be fine.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I never heard so much fucking nonsense in my life. There’s absolutely nothing that might make Mars a “sustainable” habitat for human beings, or probably any other form of Earthly life. The journey alone would destroy human bodies. If you think that living in Honolulu is expensive, with most daily needs of the population shipped or flown in, imagine what it would be like sending a cargo of provisions (Doritos? Pepperoni sticks? Mountain Dew? Fabreeze?) to a million “consumers” up on Mars. Or do you suppose the colonists will “print” their food, water, and other necessities?

Elon Musk’s ventures have reportedly vacuumed in around $5 billion in federal subsidies. Mr. Musk is doing a fine job of keeping his benefactors entertained. Americans are still avid for adventures in space, where just about every other movie takes place. I suppose it’s because they take us away from the awful conundrums of making a go of it here on Earth, a planet that humans were exquisitely evolved for (or designed for, if you will), and which we are in the process of rendering uninhabitable for ourselves and lots of other creatures.

This is our home. Can we talk about the necessary adjustments and arrangements we have to make in order to continue the human project here? Just based on our performance on this blue planet, we are not qualified to infect other parts of the solar system.

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

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by Harvey Reading

Sad to say, but dogs have limited life spans, variable mainly by breed. My last three Labs (not laboradors, since the place in Canada was named by a Portugese “explorer” name of Lavrador) lived to be around 12, which is common for that breed.

My first wife killed my first Lab when he was about 4. I lived in Sonoma then.

She had a shepherd-mix female, which was a nice enough dog, and friendly, but the woman was very jealous of Diamond, calling him stupid and clumsy. She routinely made fun of him and praised her dog. (I was very stupid and very horny in those days.)

The truth is, that first Diamond was the most intelligent dog I ever owned. And the most easygoing. He stayed with me in the state-owned travel trailer I lived in as a Fish and Wildlife Seasonal Aid with Fish and Game at Spenceville Wildlife Area (just behind Beale AFB, so I got to see a lot of SR-71 airplanes take off and land) during 1975, so it was mostly just him and me during his puppyhood. He learned quickly and responded excellently to hand signals in complex retrieval maneuvers I conceived for him. He had the usual wanderlust and stubbornness of Labs, but I never had a dog with more of an eagerness to learn new things.

One day, in early 1979, I was pruning some fruit trees in the front yard when I heard the most awful howl coming from the back yard, Oddly, the first thing that popped into my mind was, “Diamond’s dead!” Since that was a difficult thing to believe was true, I continued pruning, until the woman came running around from the back all aflutter shouting, “Something’s wrong with Diamond!” I ran to the back and saw Diamond, motionless on the ground and not breathing. I tried mouth-to-snout resuscitation, holding his mouth shut while breathing into his nostrils. Though his chest rose and fell, he did not revive. I was utterly confounded. The woman reported that she had been throwing a stick for Diamond to retrieve, when he suddenly fell over on his side.

I took him to his vet for a necropsy. A few days later, the vet reported that Diamond’s lungs were impacted with dog food. He said it was not uncommon, especially when dogs got excited when being exercised shortly after eating. So that was that.

Soon thereafter, I bought another Lab. The woman would not consider letting me name him Diamond. She insisted on naming him Mica (fool’s gold). She was resentful of him from the beginning, and I noticed that he seemed to be getting meaner by the day. Since I was working full-time for the Department of Parks and Recreation as a Ranger Trainee, I couldn’t interact with Mica during the day.

When we moved to Hesperia in April, 1979, Mica, along with her dog, Garnet, moved with us. And Mica just kept getting meaner, to the point that the woman was afraid of him, or claimed to be. I took him back to Sonoma, where a family agreed to take him.

A few weeks later, Mica’s new owners reported that he was the smartest and most easygoing dog they had ever owned, good with their children and with visitors. It was then that I realized the woman was the cause of Mica’s odd behavior. I also concluded that she intentionally killed my first dog, because she could not stand the thought that he was so much more intelligent than her dog, Garnet. The woman died of some sort of disease, several years ago. I found myself completely unable to feel any emotion at all when informed of the event.

I did not get another dog until 1988, but had him plus two others over the following years. If I outlive my current Diamond, the fourth Diamond, who is 6, I do not know if I will be able to bring myself to acquire another, who will surely outlive me, if this one doesn’t.

And I'll tell you something else: For decades, since late 1974 in fact, when I bought my first dog, one that was really "my dog", I have held the following conviction: I can count on less than 5 fingers the humans whose lives I would save over that of my dog. I still hold that conviction. Call me misanthropic if you will, but maybe it would be better if you just "grew through it."

Most people I have known as friends have shared that conviction.

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A Final City Note

(Thursday, Feb 8, 2018) Next Wednesday will be my last day as Fort Bragg’s City Manager. After 12 years and more than 250 City Notes columns chronicling the day-to-day accomplishments and challenges facing the City of Fort Bragg, this is my final column.

More than anything, I want express my gratitude. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve this community over the past 18 years, first as Community Development Director and then as City Manager. Fort Bragg is a special place. Not only is it situated in one of the most extraordinarily beautiful settings on this planet, but it is a full-service city which is the cultural and economic hub for the entire Mendocino coast. While I am leaving as your City Manager, I am not leaving Fort Bragg. This is my home and the community I love.

I came to Mendocino County more than 25 years ago to raise my family and with dreams of practicing as a professional planner. I chose to live here for the quality of life and because of the sheer beauty of the Mendocino coast. I moved from Anchor Bay to Caspar and then to Fort Bragg, seeking the right blend of community, good schools and job opportunities. I had no idea how lucky I would be.

I’ve often said that living in Fort Bragg is like “stepping back in time.” As a single mother, I felt blessed to raise two sons in a town where they could walk to school, learn from dedicated and talented teachers, participate in a myriad of extracurricular activities, and then drop by my office at the end of the day. It takes a village to raise a child and that village remains intact in our community. From our beautifully renovated schools, to Wiggly Giggly Playground, to the C.V. Starr Community Center, to Timberwolf Stadium - Fort Bragg is a town that prioritizes the needs of its youth. Now, the Noyo Center for Marine Science is helping to instill in the next generation, enthusiasm for science and a sense of stewardship that will help our community face the challenges to come. I am proud of the work that our City does to provide opportunities for people of all ages to play and recreate, to embrace healthy lifestyles, to appreciate the splendor of our natural environment, and to prepare for the future. It is a reflection of the values of our community.

I am a planner. Most of my professional life has been spent working in the realm of community planning. For me, Fort Bragg has been a planner’s dream. When I first started working for the City, I was tasked with finishing up a long overdue General Plan update. Following that, we rewrote the City’s archaic zoning regulations, creating the Land Use & Development Code. We prepared a Downtown Revitalization Study that laid the groundwork for the multi-phased Downtown Streetscape Project. We created a capacity for pursuing grants that, over the years, has brought tens of millions of dollars in grant funds to help community nonprofits, to plan for our future, to support local businesses, and to fund capital improvement projects within the City. I am proud of the strong foundation that has been laid for community development in Fort Bragg.

When the Georgia-Pacific timber mill permanently shut down in 2002, Fort Bragg was given the opportunity to plan for reuse of a 425-acre waterfront property that comprises a full one-third of the area within its city limits. This has been both a labor of love and an exercise in patience. After the initial “visioning” of the Mill Site Reuse Study, we spent years working to acquire 95 acres along the coastline of the mill site and more time assembling funds, plans and permits to construct the world-class Noyo Headlands Park and Coastal Trail that spans 3 1⁄2 miles of coastline - reconnecting Fort Bragg to its waterfront after more than a century behind locked gates. My grandson learned to ride his bike on the Coastal Trail. That is satisfying on so many levels. The environmental clean-up of the mill site and rezoning it for future redevelopment are two activities that have gone on for years and years. We are nearing the end of both processes and I am confident that our community will remain engaged and insist on a vision for the future that is worthy of Fort Bragg.

In 2006, after serving as Fort Bragg’s Community Development Director for six-plus years, the City Council asked me to step up and serve as City Manager. This was not a job I sought, but it was a tribute and an opportunity that I could not turn down. What a fulfilling job it turned out to be. Leading an organization of 60 employees who are tasked with implementing an ambitious workload, helping a City Council of five elected officials achieve their goals, overseeing a $30 million annual budget, serving a community of 7,000 — it is a lot of work, and it has been very fulfilling. Our employees are nothing short of amazing. They have tremendous talent and dedication. They live here; they care about Fort Bragg; they work hard to keep our City running and to make this community a better place. They are what I will miss the most about this job.

In early March, Tabatha Miller - Fort Bragg’s next City Manager - will take the helm. She comes with the full support of our City Council and will dive into the many challenges that lie ahead. I wish Tabatha the best and I hope that everyone will welcome her, help her get to know and understand our community, and support her efforts to run the City and to help implement the City Council’s vision for Fort Bragg’s future.

Thank you very much for the privilege of serving as Fort Bragg’s City Manager and Community Development Director over the last 18 years. It has been an honor.

If you have questions regarding this column or any matter of City business, please feel free to contact City Manager Linda Ruffing until February 14, 2018 at or (707)961-2829.

* * *

IN THE LAST ANALYSIS, the much-lauded stability and conservatism of the American system owe nothing to lofty ideals, and everything to the irrefutable fact that it is shot through with corruption and awash in contributions primarily from wealthy and corporate donors. When a minimum of a million dollars is required of House candidates and elected judges, and when patriotism is for the draft-free to extol and for the ordinary citizen to serve, in such times it is a simple act of bad faith to claim that politics-as-we-now-know-it can miraculously cure the evils which are essential to its very existence.

— Sheldon Wolin

* * *

“I guess everyone wins a gray medal?”

* * *


by Rosa Montero

I like the cold; but every time the harsh winter invades Madrid, I cannot help thinking about the homeless neighbors with whom I share the city.

In my neighborhood, there are many. The majority of them have been here for many years and are familiar to me. They sleep in the same corners every night and they always move around in the same triangle of the street: if it’s sunny, they’re on the benches; if the cold intensifies or if it rains, they’re in on the stairs of the subway near the doors, a place that provides shelter and a draft of warm air from the underground.

With a poignant persistence, 89% of the Spanish homeless (and of probably the whole world—we humans have the tendency to mark our territory) establish their residence, so to speak, in a specific place on the sidewalk and in the city. That is, they make a nest out of nothing. And I am sure that, when they say goodbye to others like themselves to go to sleep among the confusion of blankets and cartons they have left in a doorway, more than one says I’m going home.

As I mentioned before, I recognize my homeless neighbors. We greet each other, and on occasion we talk. There’s one woman in particular who is a delight. She looks older, but is certainly much younger than me.

Life expectancy among the homeless is 30 years less than the average in Spain and the mortality rate is three or four times higher. Last year this woman disappeared for several days. The bundle of her belongings remained in her area but she wasn’t there. I was afraid that she had died; that she had suffered an accident: 42% of the homeless in Madrid have bee victims of aggression according to a study done by the City Council last year. But after of a couple of weeks, my neighbor reappeared and resumed her routine like a returning sparrow.

Every time I pass by them, I think about the incredible fortuitousness of our lives; of the luck I have had to be who I am; of how the ephemeral and undecipherable set of coincidences that gives me my identity has not led me to a fate as hard as that of my neighbors ( and there are many lives that are much worse in the world). What I want to say is that my life or the life of any one of us could have been like theirs.

There’s a shocking novel, the first novel by Enrique de Hértz, that’s titled The Day Least Expected. It tells the story of an architect who ends up living at the mercy of the elements because of a catastrophic event. The story impressed me. I still remember a scene in which the protagonist urinates on himself and that humid warmth provides him momentary comfort against the frightful cold. And how easy it was for him to wind up homeless!

Ruin stalks us all with soft footsteps.

Almost all my homeless neighbors are alcoholics. Nevertheless, studies by the City Council as well as by the Aires Association show that alcoholism is minimal: 7.6% in Madrid; 4.1% on the average in Spain according to Aires. It’s probable that in my neighborhood there is a higher incidence: there is place that helps alcoholics in the vicinity. But I believe also that this business of surveys is not completely reliable because it depends on the assessment of the alcoholics themselves.

Furthermore, alcoholism is a disease and it can not only be the cause of living in the street but also a consequence of it.

In any case, there is no doubt that the majority are in this situation because of lack of a job, lack of money, or because misfortune has struck as it struck the protagonist of the novel. According to the City Council, 58.9% of the homeless possess higher education. And we have forgotten them. They’re right before our eyes but we don’t see them.

The Aires Association, created in 2015, tries to approach the problem not by alleviating it with provisional reception centers but rather by providing support and permanent dignified housing. In other words, taking them off the street and giving them another opportunity to have a real life. They have one particular project called The Dwelling which is aimed at women (20% of the homeless and growing) because they form an especially vulnerable group.

Remember it could have been you and don’t close your eyes. And join They need volunteers and money; they need everything.

(translated by Louis S. Bedrock,


  1. james marmon February 13, 2018

    I see Charles was given another warm place to sleep night before last, thank you UPD for looking out for him.

    I also see that Justin Timberlake, another frequent flyer was also rescued as well. Justin is one of my failures, however I don’t blame him, I blame myself. He had just recently entered my Juvenile Drug Court Program when I decided to resign and take a job at Lake County Mental Health. That was in 1999.

    I run across some of my other clients from time to time, most are doing well and are always happy to see me. You can’t imagine how it makes me feel to not see them on the “catch of the day” section.

    James Marmon MSW
    Former Substance Abuse Counselor//Case Manager
    Mendocino County Superior Court/The Youth Project.
    Juvenile Drug Court Division.

    • james marmon February 13, 2018

      I had previously, before enrolling at Sac State, worked for the Youth Project from 1993-1995 as an Outreach Crisis Worker. When I returned in 1998 the Youth Project had undergone a transformation and the Agency’s primary focus had changed to providing confused children with “Gay and Lesbian Services.”

      I was straight so I didn’t fit in with most the other staff, all my co-workers that I left behind 3 years earlier were all gone. It was no longer Jim Levine’s “Mom and Pop” shop, and all new staff were either Gay and Lesbian.

      My Program was through a State Grant, and the Court was involved in my hiring or I would have never been hired in the first place.

      I was hired for my education and experience not my sexual orientation.

  2. Dave Smith February 13, 2018

    Pelican Patrol, one of the most stately, majestic, awe-inspiring sights one can have in this lifetime as they rise, drop, and skim just above the waves headed out to sea.

    I once lived and worked on the coast of Watsonville where I frequently walked the coastline. One day, having walked further than usual down towards Monterrey I rounded into an inlet where silently stood hundreds of Pelicans. From there a few would now and again silently rise and begin a patrol. Nature’s best…

  3. james marmon February 13, 2018

    Mendocinosportsplus .
    9 mins ago

    The scanner said (8:32 am) the Albion Fire Department and the MCDH ambulance was dispatched to an address (we’re withholding) on Middle Ridge Road for a “48-year-old male assault victim, injury to the head, bleeding head wound.”
    The Mendocino County Sheriff Office is also en route to the scene.

    From the scanner, it sounds like this started off as a male-female domestic. They will be looking for a white male wearing a blue hoodie, blue jeans and black boots who has left the residence.

    At 8:46 am, dispatch said first responders were clear to enter the area, a Mendocino County Sheriff unit is on the scene.

  4. malcolmlorne February 13, 2018

    “City Manager Linda Ruffing for the sake of personal control and power, and for no other reason, cost us our finest Police Chief.”
    This assertion by Rex Gressett ignores several facts about former FBPD Chief Scott Mayberry’s tenure. If anything, Linda Ruffing and the then City Council protected Mayberry for too long. Gressett also ignores the simple truth that Mayberry resigned.
    Mr Gressett would do far better at reporting if he mixed more provable facts in with his provocative vocabulary.
    Malcolm Macdonald

  5. Jeff Costello February 13, 2018

    Great counterpunch article. I read CP too but this beat me to it today. Don’t know how it would fly in Comptche or Clearlake. When I arrived in SF in 1970 I had no idea of life to the north or east.

    • james marmon February 13, 2018

      Clearlake is a “Counterpunch” no fly zone, I can’t speak for Comptche.

      • Harvey Reading February 13, 2018

        By the way, James, what is the latest on the plans of the orange-crowned toad’s military parade? Has it been rained on? A little moisture is good for some toads.

  6. james marmon February 13, 2018

    I just watched AG Session’s speech at the National Sheriff’s Association’s Winter Meeting yesterday on C-SPAN. I didn’t see Allman’s fat head in the crowd so I don’t know if he was there or not. Sessions emphasized on Seizure and Civil Forfeiture of Property as a tool to help fund law enforcement efforts. This is what he had to say about Pot.

    “I’m Attorney General of the United States. I don’t have the authority to say that something is legal when it is illegal—even if I wanted to. I cannot and will not pretend that a duly enacted law of this country—like the federal ban on marijuana—does not exist. Marijuana is illegal in the United States—even in Colorado, California, and everywhere else in America.”

    • Harvey Reading February 13, 2018

      The thing is, many of the orange-crowned toad’s most diehard supporters love their dope. They’re not gonna be happy if Jeffie boy spoils their party.

    • james marmon February 13, 2018

      “Civil asset forfeiture is a key tool that helps law enforcement defund organized crime, take back ill-gotten gains, and prevent new crimes from being committed. It weakens the criminals and the cartels. Civil asset forfeiture takes the material support of the criminals and makes it the material support of law enforcement. In departments across this country, funds that were once used to take lives are now being used to save lives. And there is nothing wrong with adoptive forfeitures. There can be no federal adoption if the forfeiture is not called for under federal law. In many cases, adoptive forfeitures represent great partnerships between federal and state law enforcement.”

      “Criminals should not be permitted to profit from their crimes.”

  7. Eric Sunswheat February 13, 2018

    Years ago Sheriff Allman promoted on airway news, an interest to target growers who only live in the County part time and spend winters south. His charge was that these subjects were not contributing to the County but instead taking the wealth elsewhere. Allman made no allowance for those who lived on Mendocino properties that were seasonally devoid of sunlight, and were inaccessible for ingress and egress, during wet spells. These hapless people’s possessions were plucked, and also had forfeitures collectively amounting to tens of millions entered on accounting ledgers in lieu of taxes, under the guise of law enforcement. Recent Prop 64 environmental standards, and related new regulations in Fish & Wildlife state code, are ushering in a fresh wave of enhanced felony convictions, and inflated civil penalty fines garnishment, details of which are often deceptively reported, by the billionaire class captured interlocking news media.

    • Harvey Reading February 13, 2018

      I recall there being in California a Public Resources Code, a Fish and Game Code, a Water Code, and many others, along with the California Administrative Code. The first are statutory codes, meaning they can be amended by legislation, either by the legislature or through the initiative or referendum processes. The Administrative Code may be amended by appointed officials, including the Fish and Game Commission in matters related to fish and wildife. I am not sure which code, or codes, you reference with respect to the initiative that was passed.

      • Harvey Reading February 13, 2018

        To clarify a little, codes contain statutes, administrative codes contain regulations. Both have the force of law. It’s similar at the federal level.

  8. james marmon February 13, 2018

    Great News, much to Environmentalist Betsy Cawn’s chagrin, we’re going to fix things here. Betsy, much like Harvey are so busy focusing on the past that they can’t see the future. It’s easier for them to blame than to focus on solutions. She’s still mad that they built the freeway 30 years ago. She doesn’t think we needed it.

    Aguiar-Curry secures $15 million from Natural Resources Agency to complete Middle Creek Restoration Project

    “LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) has made more significant progress in her efforts to improve the health of Clear Lake.

    Curry, whose district includes Lake County, announced on Monday that successful work with Secretary John Laird of the California Natural Resources Agency, or CNRA, and the Department of Water Resources, or DWR, to secure $15 million to help complete the first phase of the Middle Creek Restoration project located at the north end of Clear Lake in Lake County.”

    • james marmon February 13, 2018

      Like my dad used to say “It doesn’t matter how your donkey got in the ditch, it’s how you get your ass out”

      • Harvey Reading February 14, 2018

        My dad once said, “Never do anything you wouldn’t eat.” It seemed to me, and seems to this day, an utterly stupid, meaningless thing to say.

    • Harvey Reading February 14, 2018

      One question, James: how much is the project really gonna cost before it’s really, really finished?

  9. Harvey Reading February 13, 2018

    O joy! I just finished completing my federal tax return. It rests comfortably in an envelope impatiently anticipating its one-way (hopefully) trip to Fresno.

    Completing the return is always so tiresome, not hard, just tiresome. I always dread doing it, even though I always get some of the money I paid in back.

    At least here we don’t have to file state returns (and why one earth are they called returns?), which is not really much of a blessing. Instead, they charge sales taxes, even on labor, though no longer on food (but the archaic (wealthy) Citizen’s Legislature (something the Comptche boys would love to pieces) would be ecstatic to reinstate it). The rich people who run the state tell us that regressive sales taxes ensure that everyone pays a fair share, which is a joke, though far too many believe it is the truth. Those who do probably do not know the meaning of regressive taxation.

    Happily, about 40 percent of us favor a progressive state income tax these days. That of course does NOT mean that our elected representatives (of themselves) will be responsive. They will simply keep hoping for another oil boom … On the bright side, it does show that a sizable part of the population is not resistant to joining the 21st Century in ways that go beyond computers and radiotelephonecameratrackingcomputers.

    I always worry about errors when completing my tax forms, even though I no longer itemize and have not since moving from the beloved, though incredibly crowded, land of my birth. I still have to calculate how much of my Social Security income is taxable. Again, very tiresome, but not difficult, yet easy (for me at least) to make some stupid errors. The error I made this year was exactly the one I made last year, as I discovered when I compared the two returns. It’s so reassuring to be consistent, especially as one grows ever older, ever more wrinkled, ever more angry. Well, guess what? I corrected that ol’ error this year just like I did last year, and boy, am I proud.

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