- Disaster Review
- Variety Show
- Tunzi Retires
- More Pinches
- Wildfire Litigation
- Class K
- Little Dog
- MCDH Tax
- Candidate Jeavons
- NRA Dinner
- Chomo Plea
- Yesterday's Catch
- NYT Propaganda
- Cold Walks
- Lion Tale
- Predator Night
- Arming Teachers
- King Range
- Endless Oscars
- Planning Agenda
- NRA Snubs
- Mirror Mirror
- Restoring Power
WHERE’S THE DISASTER REVIEW, MENDO?
To the Editor,
It has been nearly five months since the tragic event that is now known as the Redwood Complex Fire changed the lives of hundreds of our friends and neighbors. The shocking ferocity in which this fire attacked our county will be remembered for generations. What is equally shocking is the near total silence from our elected Public Safety officials tasked with understanding how failures in emergency communications contributed to or may have been directly responsible for the unacceptable loss of life.
Our neighbor to the south, Sonoma County, for which Mendocino County public officials frequently mimic the same policies and procedures, has been engaged in a very public and robust deconstruction of the facts and events that did cause the same terrible and preventable deaths that very same night. Sonoma County’s newspaper, The Press Democrat, not only provided excellent coverage of the multiple fire complexes that burned concurrently within their county, but also provided leadership in the public discussion that followed in the aftermath of those incidents. The examination of the failure of Sonoma County’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) to use current technology to warn citizens, in real time, of the imminent threats that approached them that October night, has not been silenced. Additionally, the State Office of Emergency Services conducted their own investigation of the actions of Sonoma County and issued a separate report. As a result, real change is now being discussed and implemented immediately. This same level of self-examination (and state-level investigation) is not happening in Mendocino County. This begs a simple question: Why not?
Sonoma County, unlike Mendocino County, manages their Office of Emergency Services (OES) as a department within county government and is managed by civilian (non law-enforcement) personnel. Mendocino County’s OES is contained within the Sheriff’s Department and is not managed by civilian County managers. In review of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department website, under the section of Office of Emergency Services, the opening caption states:
“The Office of Emergency Services (OES) coordinates the overall county response to disasters. OES is responsible for alerting and notifying appropriate agencies when disaster strikes; coordinating all agencies that respond; ensuring resources are available and mobilized in times of disasters; and developing and providing preparedness materials for the public. OES provides for coordination of plans and programs countywide to ensure protection of life and property”.
In review of the above mission statement, shouldn’t it also clearly state: “to be responsible for and ensure the timely notification of county residents to the existence of imminent threats to life and property”? It is reasonable to assume that this language describes the core duty of the Sheriff’s Department OES.
On November 9th, 2017, Sheriff Tom Allman held a post incident press conference to go over the “timeline” of the Redwood Complex fire. In that presentation, the Sheriff stated “it’s important to understand the first 12 hours of the fire is when lives and the vast majority of structures were lost.” But further review shows that the loss of life occurred much faster than twelve hours. Starting with Potter Valley Fire Chief Pauli’s first call to Calfire at 11:41 p.m. and the report of fire in Redwood Valley as early as 12:50 a.m., the fire was moving at approximately 15 MPH as estimated by Chief Pauli. The Golden Rule Mobile Homes community, 11 miles northwest of Potter Valley, was ordered to evacuate at 1:50 a.m., two hours after Chief Pauli’s call to Calfire.
It is safe to say, given the locations of the fire victims, the majority loss of life occurred within those two hours. What is still unanswered is what decisions were made inside the Sheriff’s OES regarding the timing, type and nature of notifications to the public.
What was the nature of the conversations and what was the chain of command? What protocol was followed? What technology was relied upon versus what is the current state of the art? These are the same questions that have now been answered in Sonoma County.
In the same November 9th press conference, Sheriff Allman offered “I know that some people are watching this very video for the purposes of litigation, so you’re not going to hear me be critical of other departments.”
What exactly did the Sheriff mean by this? What “other” departments was he referring to? Who else would have the same level of responsibility for an emergency incident that would trigger questions of liability and exposure to litigation? What “other” department was responsible to enact lifesaving notifications to the public in the event of an emergency?
In questions related to liability, there exists two fundamentally different responsibilities related to this incident. There is the responsibility of the public safety and the clear expectation that public entities entrusted with that responsibility will ensure the delivery of that responsibility. There is also commercial responsibility, which is where you have a private commercial enterprise that, in the course of its operations, must own any impact created as a result of those operations. There is a clear distinction between the two in this situation.
Regarding communications failures, the Sheriff’s OES has had two events in the past few years that tested and demonstrated performance of the OES capabilities. Both incidents involved fiber-optic cable cuts. One in the Comptche area and one in the Hopland area. These cuts shut down the majority of emergency communication traffic each time, demonstrating the need for backup communications systems. The OES, in each event, failed in all metrics of performance. These events should have been opportunities for the OES to learn and react in ways that insured better performance in the future. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. What differentiates the fiber-optic cut events from the Redwood Complex Fire incident in terms of the OES performance is that on that fateful October night, the OES had the opportunity to issue lifesaving alerts before communication links were lost. The tragedy is decisions were purposely made to not issue these emergency alerts, at a time when they were needed the most.
Now that Sonoma County has examined its own performance in their emergency response to the fires, clear parallels existed in Mendocino County. Wireless emergency alerts, like the Amber Alert system, where viewed as being too-broad and not appropriate for specific geographic events. This understanding was incorrect, as pointed out in the State OES report to Sonoma County. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s OES relied upon opt-in notification systems like Nixle or reverse 911 calls on landlines to notify county residences. Many people no longer own landline telephones and in many circumstances, telephone lines had already burnt. Compounding the problems of using outdated systems or systems requiring citizens to opt-in was that the first notification wasn’t sent out until 1:47 am, two hours after the fire started.
Moving forward, the events leading up to and following the Redwood Complex Fire must be understood if there is any attempt to be made at preventing such a tragedy from happening again. Silence on the part of our elected officials charged with the public safety is clearly unacceptable. There can be no after-action report that is credible if no honest review of the systems, procedures and chain of command decision making is not publicly examined. Additionally, regarding the previous question as to why there has been no State OES review of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s OES actions and performance, the answer is simple: The Sheriff, as head of the OES, must request such a review. This, apparently, has not yet happened. Hopefully it will happen soon.
VARIETY SHOW! Those of you craving home grown, free-range, live entertainment are invited to the 27th Annual Anderson Valley Variety Show hosted at the Philo Grange , 9800 Highway 128 in Uptown Philo this Friday and Saturday, March 9 and 10.
Generous portions from the menu featuring 44 distinctly zesty and piquant acts are sure to satisfy all age and taste preferences. Bring your appetite and be prepared to nourish mind, body and soul.
To savor the experience without risk of FOMO advance tickets are available at the Anderson Valley Market and Lemons’ Market. Tickets will also be available at the door until sold out.
Bon appetite con gusto!
CHIEF TUNZI RETIRES, GETS WELL-DESERVED AWARD
Last night a packed house celebrated the 25 years of service to the Comptche Volunteer Fire Department and Comptche community for retiring chief Larry Tunzi. Despite the cold weather and rain outside the warmth and display of appreciation inside the fire house was more than enough to compensate. Larry's gift to the Comptche community was the time, expertise and dedication he gave and never failing to perform his duties.
IN OUR TALK with Supe's candidate John Pinches, he said that he thought Doug Losak was the best County Counsel the County has had recently. "He saved the County thousands and thousands of dollars," Pinches said. "Instead of settling everything and paying people off, Losak fought back. He challenged claims, didn't just roll over and pay them."
PINCHES also said, in reference to the Potter Valley Diversion, "There's other ways to pump that water over the hill," on his way to making the point that Mendocino County is getting majorly ripped off by Sonoma County via the deal made in the middle 1950s whereby most of the water stored in Lake Mendocino is owned by SoCo. Pinches rightly thinks the contract ought to be revised to ensure that Mendocino County gets its fair share of the water and money, which SoCo presently re-sells for annual millions.
OF COURSE the mere mention of inland water policy change brings Potter Valley's noble sons of the soil and the rest of the downstream grape magnates a'screaming and a'hollering for the Diversion as is. Small wonder, they're paying no more than $12.50 for an acre foot of water, and probably less but try to get the true figure. Meanwhile, residential users in, say, Redwood Valley, pay a lot more.
AN ACRE FOOT OF WATER, by the way, is estimated to provide the average family of four 240 gallons a day for four years. Bear these figures in mind when you get your next water bill.
HERE'S the official rationale from Redwood Valley's water office: "Some of you wondered why agricultural water costs less than domestic water. The added cost for domestic water is that it has to be treated to insure that is safe for you to drink. That treatment must comply with ever stricter State water standards. The chemicals used and the upkeep of the plant are expensive. We are using solar power for plant electricity, one of the first districts to do so, but it all still adds up. Agricultural water is pumped directly from the lake without treatment."
WELL, SURE, but millions of dollars in cheap water is a very big break for wine ag.
ADDING to the obstacles of sensible Mendo water policy is the several competing water and sewer districts in the Ukiah Valley. Throw in the welfare water ranchers of Potter Valley, and the wine mogul grape growers from Potter Valley to Hopland, and Sonoma County owning the left over, and you quickly understand that reform is, at this political time, impossible. When Pinches, as a supervisor, brought it all up he couldn't get a second from any of his colleagues to even discuss water with SoCo!
POINT ARENA ROCKS!
(Photo by Judy Valadao)
MENDOCINO COUNTY JOINS IN PG&E WILDFIRE LITIGATION
by Jim Shields
As a public interest advocate, one of the issues I’ve been keeping folks up-to-date on is the year-end wildfires on both ends of the state that spanned 14 counties altogether.
Nearly $12 billion in insurance claims have been filed due to the fires and related losses stemming from heavy early December rains that caused flooding and mudslides, especially in Southern California. In fact, with this week’s statewide dual punch of rain and snow that is supposed to be the season’s biggest storm event, residents in SoCal’s burn areas are on notice of possible evacuation due to potential flooding and mudslides. If that occurs, insurance claims are sure to rise.
The state’s “Big Three” (electrical companies PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric) are all keeping a sharp eye on the weather front because there’s a lot at stake for them on two other fronts.
Law firms from coast-to-coast have parachuted into California promoting an advertising blitz blatantly soliciting clients to sue PG&E for losses arising from the wildfires and their aftermath. Although state officials say the official cause of the fires is unknown and is still under investigation, the lawyers assume arguendo PG&E is at least partially responsible for igniting the fires due to downed power lines, transformers, and its failure to trim or remove trees when needed.
Billions and billions of dollars in liability and damages are on the line for PG&E, as wellas the other electrical utilities, if the courts rule against them.
This week, Mendocino County got into the crowded litigation arena.
At the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, Feb. 27 meeting, CEO Carmel Angelo reported the following:
“County Counsel has been working with several counties regarding which firm should be hired to represent Mendocino County in litigation against PG&E. On February 6, 2018, the Napa County Board of Supervisors and on February 13, 2018, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, gave their authority to retain the following consortium of lawyers: Baron & Budd, P.C.; Singleton Law Firm; Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire; Dixon Diab & Chambers; and Terry Singleton, Esq. There are no out-of-pocket costs to the counties and the contract term will last until the completion of litigation. Based on those actions and Board direction, Mendocino County has now engaged the same consortium of lawyers with the same terms.
“The County of Mendocino has incurred significant costs relating to the fires including fire recovery costs, employee overtime, protecting the watershed, damage to natural resources, and loss of tax revenue, to name a few. While the County is still in the process of calculating the full extent of its damages; it is clear that the total loss is extensive.
“The reason all three counties decided to hire an outside firm is that litigation of this complex magnitude is an expensive and lengthy venture, requiring the expertise of counsel who specialize in wildfire litigation. Significant investment in litigation and expert costs will be required, in addition to many hours of attorney time. Litigation always includes inherent risk. The entity and the taxpayers are best served by engaging experienced counsel who can absorb a significant portion of the cost, burden, and risk of litigation, while the County still maintains decision-making authority and control over the entire litigation. Thus, the County works directly with outside counsel in a cooperative effort to protect the interests of the entity and its taxpayers. All lawsuits relating to the Northern California Fires are being consolidated in front of one judge, the Honorable Curtis E.A. Karnow in San Francisco Superior Court, and a case management conference is scheduled for February 27, 2018. We are working with counsel to get our complaint on file prior to that date so that we are part of the consolidation procedure.”
One positive thing about these lawyers taking the case on a contingency basis, is that county residents are not on the hook for lawyer fees, as is normally the case when the BOS retains outside counsel which they do far too much of as is.
Needles to say, even with all the claims being consolidated before one judge, this litigation most likely will take years before final judgment is rendered.
Action should be coming much sooner on a second battlefront dealing with last year’s wildfires.
As discussed in an earlier column, there’s a bill in the state legislature, Senate Bill 819, that would prevent electric utilities from passing costs, for example from wildfires, that result from negligent practices onto customers by raising rates.
According to the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Jerry Hill, before ratepayers bear any cost incurred by a utility, the California Public Utilities Commission is required to evaluate whether those costs are just and reasonable. For example, if a wildfire occurs in a utility’s service territory, the utility will incur costs to repair and replace equipment damaged by the fire. The CPUC has the authority to determine if the utility acted reasonably in responding to the fire – in preventing the fire from occurring, in mitigating the fire’s spread, and in recovery efforts during and after the fire – before allowing the utility to increase rates to pay for the damage.
SB 819 provides the CPUC with full authority to apply a reasonableness review to electric utilities’ requests for cost recovery. In addition, the bill clarifies that fines, penalties, or uninsured expenses resulting from negligent behavior are not recoverable in rates.
I was recently contacted by a Potter Valley resident who brought up several reasonable ideas regarding this whole issue.
She said that it’s not fair or reasonable to lay all the blame and resulting liability on PG&E because there were other mitigating circumstances.
For example, property owners share some responsibility for the fires because some of them do not properly maintain trees and brush on their land, allowing it to build up as a prime fuel for wildfires.
She also pointed to the statewide problem of over a 100 million dead and dying pine trees largely resulting from our historic five-year drought, as another ready source of fuel for fire. It goes without saying that state and federal forestry agencies would bear some liability since they are responsible for forest management.
And she said that Mother Nature also played a major role in our October fires with gusty, high winds that filled the air with burning cinders, thus spreading the fires across greater distances and expanses.
I really can’t argue with her logic, and most likely these issues will become part of the court’s record, and should be considered by the judge in his decision.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)
WHY ARE THEY WASTING TIME?
The Board of Supervisors opened last Tuesday’s meeting by rejecting all of the roofing bids for the complex at Low Gap. The lowest bid was at least $1 million over what had been projected and put aside for the project. They then proceeded, despite hours of public comment in opposition, to make the Class K building permit process more expensive and restrictive by adding requirements that make it more similar to a regular uniform building code compliant project. How a public agency that is struggling to find the funds to put a roof over its own head can justify making it more difficult for the citizens it serves to house themselves is a question we need answered.
Class K accounts for only 7% of the building permits issued each year, but they are generally the smaller, more affordable projects that this County so desperately needs to encourage if we are going to solve the housing crisis we currently face. Why are our elected representatives wasting their own time, as well as that of staff and the general public further restricting the population's ability to construct affordable homes? This project is a dud. It should be abandoned. Class K has worked fine for nearly 40 years and should be left unchanged. We can then focus our attention on the much more difficult problem of how we are going to build sufficient housing for the people of this County. It is so much easier to say how a house should or should not be built than it is to actually sweat in the hot sun, write the checks, draw the plans, or do any of the actual work necessary to put a roof over one's head.
I urge everyone to call or e-mail the supervisors and tell them that Class K is a valuable tool which should not be changed or made more expensive to utilize. Ask them to please stop adding restrictions and costs to the building process — instead start thinking creatively about solutions to the housing shortage in this county.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “How come dogs never win an Academy Award? Cujo's the greatest canine ever, and he never won so much as a biscuit!”
MR. WENDAL, Commenting on Malcolm Macdonald’s recent piece about the failure of Coast Hospital executive and board members to deal responsibly with personnel and finances.
RE: GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD HOSPITAL EXECS
Why throw good money after bad, indeed? Thank you, Mr. Macdonald. And thank you to MendocinoTV for recording the board meetings. At the February 22 meeting, I don’t recall hearing any mention of the $5,500,000 General Obligation Bond that property owners in the district have been paying as part of their property taxes for many years. The bond measure was passed in 2001. It is based on property value rather than being a flat tax like the one they’re trying to pass now. The CFO said that $457,770 cash was collected from property taxes in January but no one on the board said anything further about it. Most people I asked weren’t aware that it was part of their tax bill. Everyone should look at their tax bill every year. Why are we still paying for that bond; does it repeatedly get refinanced? The board’s failure to address that, along with so many other issues, is a reason to vote no.
Here’s something Mr. Lund said at the meeting: “Every time this community has been asked to help us provide a service that is worth supporting; our schools, the Starr Center, our roads, etc., etc., the community has stepped up and done that.” He didn’t include the hospital in his list and he didn’t mention that their last attempt to pass a healthcare district property tax measure, Measure R in 2005, was soundly defeated. The hospital was losing the same amount of money annually then as now and the arguments on both sides are still the same. They didn’t close their doors, as was threatened 13 years ago. What has changed to make them think the community will pass a parcel tax this time?
There is nothing included in their bizarre all caps statement to say that no money that is currently being spent on items the parcel tax money will cover will be transferred to other items, i.e. administrators’ salaries. How can/will that be proven?
The hospital is losing a lot of money due to operational issues that could be remedied with good leadership. How did it get to this point and why is Dr. Glusker the only board member willing to talk about problems? Do the other members of the board really not know that it’s the first step in resolving them? Or do they think the community will be swayed by fear alone so they can keep on the same path? The proposed measure is written in a way that it can be defined subjectively with no clear course of action. And it is impossible for the amount generated to save the hospital. Passing this measure is just kicking the can down the road. What will happen when the mandated earthquake retrofit or building of a new facility must begin? Where will the hospital get the funds for that? It’s the biggest issue that needs to be addressed before before a property tax measure is on the ballot and well before it becomes a crisis. If the current tax measure passes there will not be support for more tax money to retrofit or build. From where will the funding come?
And at the February 22nd meeting a member of the public said, in response to comments about seniors having a difficult time affording the additional tax, that there is a deferred property tax program where the tax payments can be deferred until the property is sold. What he did not say is that the annual household income limit for that program is $35,500. A senior couple with a $35,501 annual income will not qualify. The income limit is an important detail that should be included when trying to reassure people by making statements about deferred tax payments. Without knowing that there is an income limit, people may think they qualify if they attended or watched the meeting and then they share the misinformation with their friends and families. In order to increase the odds of passing, some property tax measures in this state have included exemptions for disabled and senior homeowners (they have to apply for the exemptions; they are not automatic). Will the board do that?
ANOTHER CANDIDATE for Third District Supe's seat.
Willits High School teacher, Shawna Jeavons, has entered the crowded 3rd District race. A native daughter of Willits, Ms. Jeavons is the daughter of famed gardener, John Jeavons.
CLOSED TO THE PRESS
by Rex Gressett
In the local uproar over the Friends of the NRA fundraiser in Fort Bragg, tickets went like wildfire. I had intended to simply buy a $60 dinner and watch from a ringside seat. I really did not know what I would think of it all. I am searching my soul and had no clue what I would write. Anyway, they say it is a good feed. It ought to be for sixty bucks.
Alas, the event at Portuguese Hall sold out before I could get them their money. I radically underestimated local enthusiasm for gun rights and the whacking impact that social media would generate.
Early Saturday morning I went down to the hall to ask if I could stand quietly in a corner as a member of the Press. No deal. The Friends of the NRA have a standing policy precluding news people of any stripe from their events. That $60 bucks would have been well spent. The merry friends of the NRA were busily setting up their dinner. They told me without breaking stride that they have had it with the uninitiated writing about them. It doesn’t pay. No press. Ever.
As waves of shock and profound grief rolled over the nation in the aftermath of calamity at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the American people waited, watched and wondered while the President and the Congress blustered, dithered and postured, ultimately retreating into predictable dysfunction. Grieving children and inconsolable parents were managed like hot media properties. Gun rights advocates glared back stubbornly, simply omitting dead kids from their talking points. Shattered lives were constitutionally sanctioned collateral damage on the American superhighway of individual freedom. The abyss that divides the country widened as irreconcilable ideologies moved further into their respective corners.
Down at Portuguese Hall on a Fort Bragg Saturday, I thought that the Friends of the NRA would welcome public exposure. After all social media had sold out their show. I was more than prepared to tell their side of it. In my old school naivete, I imagined that ideas, controversy, and public discussion were the battlefield. I thought whatever they believed, they would want people to know it.
Recently Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, accomplished and irrefutable eggheads at Northwestern University have made media waves by figuring out and proving with (holy smoke) multivariate analysis what almost everybody knows.
According to the good doctors, “Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on government policy while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.”
Who knew? Apparently the Friends of the NRA. Public opinion is not their target. Persuasion or debate is not their thing. Money is their thing, and they have raised a great deal of it. As almost everyone in the county now knows in the dustup of their Fort Bragg fundraiser, this independent organization has raised $810 million for the NRA.
With the calculated dead aim one might expect of marksmen, the Friends of the NRA have bowed out of the public discourse and focused where the action is. They are not trying to convince anybody. They don’t give a hoot about mass movements or voting majorities. They comprehend very acutely that the levers of power are moved by money. They understand quite clearly that in a Niagara of cash, national policy has gleefully transcended public opinion.
Inside the Friends of the NRA feasted and auctioned guns. For 60 bucks you could eat. For $1400 they gave you a couple of guns. You could pay as much as $4500. I don’t know what you got for that, probably a bazooka. The Friends of the NRA are realists. They are efficient and focused. They understand the national political game and they mean business.
When I showed up outside Portuguese hall at 5:00 the protesters were gathered on both sides of West Street down. I counted 100 protesters. The Chief of Police was in attendance along with a genial and courteous selection of our local police.
Captain Lizarraga had made it clear at the last City Council meeting that although the right to protest would be respected there would be no chanting or anything disruptive. The protesters were inadvertently compliant, but I got no sense of suppressed volatility. The vast majority were over 60.
The veterans of decades of protesting and movement building had very nice signs and pretty good numbers for our small town. They wanted to mobilize people but even if they had swayed vast majorities with their signs and their presence their impact would have been painfully negligible, I don’t think that was true of the bucks rolling into Portuguese hall. The folks outside were outgunned.
MENDO PACKS OFF ANOTHER CHOMO
Ukiah, Monday, March 5. -- Child Molestation Resolved.
A defendant charged with child molestation charges resolved his matter last Friday in the Mendocino County Superior Court by plea and stipulated sentence.
Michael Scott Cruce, age 40, of Willits, entered a no contest plea a felony count charging continuous sexual abuse of a child. He also entered a no contest plea to a separate felony count of committing sexual acts with a child 10 years of age or younger.
By stipulation, defendant Cruce will receive an indeterminate sentence of 15 years to life in state prison for his sexual conduct with the child 10 years of age or younger. Defendant Cruce will also receive a consecutive 6 years in state prison for the continuous sexual abuse count, for an overall aggregated term of 21 years to life for the molestation counts.
Consecutive to the above state prison time, the defendant will also be sentenced to an additional 44 months in state prison on a separate felony case. The defendant also entered a no contest plea to unlawfully driving a motor vehicle under the influence causing great bodily injury to a passenger.
The overall time to be imposed on defendant Cruce is 24 years, 8 months to life in state prison. The sentencing hearing is now set for May 1, 2018 at 9 o'clock in the morning in Department B of the Ukiah courthouse.
Having suffered the two sex convictions, if the parole board should decide in the future that defendant Cruce should be paroled, he will first have to undergo an evaluation to determine whether he continues to pose a danger to society and should be classified a sexually violent predator. Should that evaluation determine he is a sexually violent predator, he will be transferred to Coalinga State Hospital for SVP treatment and only released upon being found by a Mendocino County jury to no longer present a danger to the community.
The prosecutor who is continuing to handle this matter is Assistant District Attorney Richard T. Welsh. The law enforcement agencies who investigated the underlying facts are the Willits Police Department, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, the California Department of Justice forensic laboratory, and the District Attorney's own investigators. The judge who accepted the plea and who will be imposing the agreed-upon sentence on May 1is Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Cindee Mayfield.
(District Attorney Press Release)
CATCH OF THE DAY, Mar. 4, 2018
JAVIER ACEVES-LIZARRAGA, Willits. Domestic battery, resisting.
JAMES DOCHERTY JR., Simi Valley/Fort Bragg. DUI, no license.
AMBROSE FALLIS, Covelo. Under influence with weapon, armed with firearm during attempt or commission of a felony, alteration of firearm ID, loaded handgun not belonging to registered owner.
ILENE KRUGER, Willits. Vandalism, probation revocation.
KENNETH LAWSON, Willits. Suspended license, probation revocation.
SETH MANUEL, Ukiah. Domestic abuse on child, domestic battery.
TEVIN MARIZETTE, Talmage. DUI over 0.15, pot sales, suspended license, failure to appear, probation revocation.
NICOLE RHOADES, Ukiah. DUI, suspended license, driving with license suspended for refusing chemical test, failure to appear, probation revocation.
DAVID ROBERTS, Philo. Domestic abuse.
CIRILO ROSALES, Cloverdale/Talmage. DUI.
AUSTIN SHEALOR, Ukiah. Probation revocation. (Frequent Flyer)
MIGUEL URIARTE-PADILLA, Cloverdale/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
LUIS ZAMORA-ACOSTA, Ukiah. Suspended license, pot sales, disobeying court order, false ID, failure to appear.
LIGHT IT UP
by James Kunstler
It must be hard on The New York Times editors to set their hair on fire day after day in their effort to start World War Three. Today’s lead story, Russian Threat on Two Fronts Meets Strategic Void in the U.S., aims to keep ramping up twin hysterias over a new missile gap and fear of Russian “meddling” in the 2018 midterm elections.
The Times’s world-view begins to look like the script of a Batman sequel with Vlad Putin cast in The Joker role of the cackling psychopath who must be stopped at all costs! America’s generals have switched on the Batman signal beacon, but Donald Trump in the role of the Caped Crusader, merely dithers and broods in the splendid isolation of his 1600 Penn Avenue Bat Cave, suffering yet another of his endless bipolar identity crises. For God’s sake, The Times, shrieks, do something! The Russians are coming! (Gotham City’s Chief of Police Hillary said exactly that last week in a Tweet!)
I think they misunderstood Mr. Putin’s recent message when he announced a new hypersonic missile technology that would, supposedly, cut through any imaginable US missile defense. The actual message, for the non mental defectives left in this drooling idiocracy of a republic, was as follows: Nuclear war remains unthinkable, so kindly stop thinking about it.
Mr. Putin’s other strategic position is also misrepresented — actually, not even acknowledged — in Monday’s NYT propaganda blast, namely, to discourage the USA’s decades-long policy of regime change here, there, and everywhere on the planet, creating a debris trail of one failed state after another. As a true-blue American, I must say these are two admirable propositions. Is it fatuous to add that atomic war is unlikely to benefit anyone? Or that the world has had enough of US military “meddling” in foreign lands?
Of course the shopworn trope of Russian “meddling” in the 2016 election still occupies the center ring of the American political circus. Today’s Times story includes another clumsy attempt to set up expectations that the 2018 midterm elections will be hacked by Russia, in order to keep the hysteria at code-red level. As usual, the proposition assumes that the alleged 2016 hacking is both proven and significant when, going on two years, there is no evidence of hacking besides the obviously amateurish Facebook troll farm. (And, by the way, how does that compare to the USA’s 2014 covert toppling of Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych?) Talk about “meddling!”
…[I]n public statements in recent weeks, Mr. Trump’s top intelligence officials have conceded that the president has yet to discuss strategies with them to prevent the Russians from interfering in the midterm elections this year. Mr. Trump has expressed severe doubts that the Russians meddled in 2016, contradicting the conclusions of his intelligence officials.
By inference, The New York Times has no doubts that the 2016 election was fatally hacked to defeat its preferred candidate — though there is plenty of reason to suppose that the entire Russian “meddling” story was a mendacious psyops product of John O. Brennan’s CIA. It was only a few months ago that The Times and the cable news networks were shrieking about the White House National Security Advisor (General Flynn) being caught speaking with the Russian Ambassador — as if foreign ambassadors come here for some reason other than to keep open communication lines with American officials.
What’s going on here makes the Red Scare of 1920 and the McCarthy episode of the early 1950s look sedate in comparison. It’s reasonable to suppose that officials in any foreign country watching the dismal ongoing spectacle here would conclude that the United States has lost its mind. Somebody please take us to the hydrotherapy chamber!
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page)
BRRRRR…BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!
by Anne Fashauer
We’ve been having some cold weather lately here in Anderson Valley. We have had some beautiful days but often they aren’t out of the 40’s and I know some folks on the Valley floor who report temperatures in the 20’s in the mornings. Two weeks ago we had snow at our place; it was beautiful while it lasted. At last we have had some rain (as well as hail at times) and the forecast promises more to come. The Sierra’s received some much needed snow as well.
I’ve decided to do a 5K trail run. I don’t actually run – I walk. I walk fast, averaging a 15 minute mile. My goal to complete the 5K in 45 minutes, give or take. The fitness tracker I use a on my phone, Endomondo, which tracks my distance and speed, along with a few other things, is actually what inspired me – I got a notification from it telling me I had walked my fastest 3K. I Googled the miles to kilometers and realized I wasn’t far from already walking 5K (3.2 miles) and since then I’ve been walking at least that distance several times per week.
I did not go out walking on the day it snowed; it was too cozy a day to do anything but enjoy the snow and the warm fire inside. This past Saturday I did go out walking and the rain soaked me – but it felt good, cooling me off on my uphill climb home. The only downside came with my glasses; they steamed up and got covered in water droplets, making visibility poor.
I’m looking forward to more wintry weather and rain. I’m not crazy about the cold, but I prefer it to heat. It may dampen the real estate market temporarily, but that will pass. Speaking of real estate, the market has much warmed up. More buyers are out and properties are going into escrow. Maybe we can help you?
THE MOUNTAIN LION & THE BIG SLAM
Tales of growing up deep in the hills of Covelo
by Zeek Hopkins
The moon was out when we left the main house which was referred to as “the shop” and headed to the new house that was in the middle of construction. My brother Albert and I were going to sleep upstairs. The new house was being built for my grandparents, the doors and windows hadn’t been put in yet so sometimes the cats would come in and snuggle up on the end of our sleeping bags.
There had been mountain lion sightings the last few days, but we weren’t scared because the dogs always followed us to the new house and then would curl up at the doorway and sleep. I led the way up the makeshift steps into the house, through the creaking hallway to the stairs and up the rocking steps to the second floor. It was dark in here, really dark. Albert walked along behind me with one had on my back to keep track of me in the darkness. I felt my way to where our bags were laid out on the floor and searched for the lamp.
“Aha! Light at last” I said as I tossed the match book beside the lamp.
“Want to play Uno?” asked Albert.
“Sure!” I said, picking up the lamp and heading to the next room. “Did you bring the glasses for drinks?”
“Yeah, I brought them earlier and,” he said his eyes dancing with pleasure, “I also brought this!”
He pulled out a jar of homemade grape juice from behind the stack of sheet rock we were sitting on.
“Ho ho,” I said, grinning from ear to ear. “I thought we were out. Where did you find it?” I asked.
“In the back of one of the boxes where all the canning stuff is at the shop,” he replied.
I gave him a nod of approval, he smiled back and pulled out the Uno cards. We played games and drank juice until it was quite late.
“Race you to bed,” I said.
“Not if I get there first!” he replied.
I grabbed the lamp and off we went. Soon we were fast asleep. In the early morning before dawn I awoke to my brother poking me.
“Ann, wake up!” he said earnestly.
I pretended to be asleep. He kept poking me until I responded.
“What?” I whined.
“I’m cold. Do you have an extra blanket I can have?” he asked his teeth on the brink of chattering.
I sighed, reached down and took the blanket off my sleeping bag and put it over him.
“Here you go,” I said begrudgingly.
As he warmed up, we talked about the mountain lion he’d seen earlier in the day down at the Flat.
“Was it a red one?” I asked.
“No,” he replied, “it was more of a golden, dry grass color.”
Suddenly our conversation halted. We had both heard a sound that was unfamiliar to us.
“Did you hear that?” I asked in a scarcely audible voice.
“Uh-huh” he replied under his breath, his voice a little shaky.
We held our breath as the creature haltingly walked along the creaking floor boards underneath where we lay. I wasn’t about to move because I wasn’t sure what it was. My mind was screaming, “MOUNTAIN LION!” I was trying to be calm for my brother and not let on that I was scared. I didn’t move.
It was then that the most beautiful sound in the world started. Well, it would have been if I’d been out in the forest in a safe place or at the zoo or somewhere other than where I was! It was the deepest, richest most perfect growl I’d ever heard. It was exciting and terrifying all at once!
The lion crept toward the stairs; he paused, and then took a step on the stairs. My heart stopped. Then I heard another step creak. I was ready to panic now!
I picked up my feet and slammed them down on the boards on the scaffolding over the stairs. It made a terrific sound!
Albert was so scared that he jumped and I could see his body framed in the starlight of the window cut out. For effect I slammed my feet down again. He jumped a second time.
Unfortunately the growl had now stopped and there was not another sound. Strain as I might, I could hear nothing. I’d have no way to know where the mountain lion was now.
“Did he run away?” whispered Albert in the dark, his voice quivering.
“I’m not sure,” I replied, steeling myself against the fear rising up. “Where are the matches?” I asked as I frantically felt around on the floor for them and hoped the mountain lion wouldn’t spring on me as I searched.
“Over by the wall… I think…” my brother whispered.
Finding them, I struck a match and lit the lamp. The flame flickered and flared! I hurriedly looked around to make sure we were safe. I spotted my cat Squirrely looking through the stud wall, to the steps below with a scowl. Picking up the lamp I took it to the wall and peered between the studs, down past the scaffold to the steps. Nothing! I did a shoulder check, still nothing! “Should I be scared?” I wondered.
“Albert, you see anything?” I asked, trying to hide the worry in my voice.
“No, nothing yet,” he replied, his voice a little shaky as he huddled up against the far wall.
Looking through the wall I started my visual search at the top of the stairs and worked my way down each step. When I got to the bottom there was no sign of the lion. I did one more check of the second floor to make sure the lion hadn’t escaped my scan. I slowly went over the stairs again and then looked towards the doorway.
And then I saw it, curled up in the sawdust. I started to laugh with relief.
“What,” asked Albert in a worried and confused tone? “What is it?”
“It’s Roofus!” I replied with a sigh of relief. My dog thumped his tail on the floor and looked up at me with a grin.
“PREDATOR NIGHT” AT THE INTERNATIONAL WILDLIFE FILM FEST
The International Wildlife Film Festival’s post-festival tour continues on Friday, March 9, with the screening of two spectacular films. Taking place at the Ukiah Civic Center, 300 Seminary Avenue, the evening opens at 6:15 with the lively music of Midas Well featuring Chris Gibson and Char Jacobs. Films will begin at 7 p.m.
The first film, “Nowhere to Hide,” (48 min.) explores the eternal arms race between predator and prey as it is shaped by the habitat in which they live. More than half of the land on Earth is desert or grassland. Predators of these open habitats may be able to find their prey, but it works both ways – the prey can often see them coming. In a world of strategy and counterstrategy, with nowhere to hide, little is left to chance, and the tactics of the hunt are seen in their sharpest relief. “Nowhere to Hide” was an award-winner at the International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula, Montana.
Also playing: "Bears of the Last Frontier – City of Bears" (60 min.) takes viewers to the heart of Alaskan wilderness to set up camp alongside the largest concentration of grizzlies in the world. It is June and the bears are taking advantage of the long days to feed, mate, and raise new cubs. The film features amazing photography, sound, and music.
Note: These beautiful films do contain scenes of predator-prey relationships and explicit bear mating scenes, so parental discretion is recommended.
Tickets are available at Mendocino Book Company or at the door for a $10 suggested donation for adults and $5 for children.
Proceeds from the film festival will benefit the Redwood Valley Outdoor Education Project. The RVOEP is a special program of the Ukiah Unified School District that provides outdoor environmental education programs to over 2,000 students each year on a 45-acre woodland in Redwood Valley.
For more information about the RVOEP and a full schedule of films and music, visit the RVOEP website at http://rvoep.org. For further inquiries contact Maureen Taylor, RVOEP Education Coordinator, at 707-489-0227.
With all the talk of arming teachers and school staff members, I feel the need to put in my two cents. After being a school night custodian for nearly 30 years (now retired), the idea of arming teachers is frightening. I cannot tell you the number of times I had a teacher approach me and say, “I’ve misplaced my school keys. Can you keep an eye out for them? Oh, and don’t say anything to the office.”
Teachers losing keys is commonplace, but imagine them misplacing a loaded weapon. If I were still working and had the chance to work the day shift, am I expected to be one of the special people required to be armed? No, thank you. Please put this crazy idea behind us.
SNOW ON THE KING RANGE
(Photo by Dick Whetstone)
THE ACADEMY AWARDS: It was too long – waaaaayyyyyyy too bloody long. We’ve had raging debates for years about the Oscars being too white, too straight and too male, but the real problem is that it now drones on for an interminably dull length of time. Nobody has the patience for a movie lasting even two hours these days, let alone an awards show about movies that lasted 3hrs 48 minutes. My wife, who endured the whole thing in the early hours of the morning in Britain, looked like a flesh-eaten zombie by the end. If you want to get big Oscars ratings back then cut the night in half. No viewer will complain.
— Piers Morgan
PEACE AND FREEDOM PARTY CAMPAIGN BUTTON from 1967
PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING AMENDED AGENDA for March 15, 2018, is posted on the department website at: mendocinocounty.org/government/planning-building-services/meeting-agendas/planning-commission
THE THREE-DOT LOUNGE, Steve Sparks’ favorite gathering place in the Valley, a somewhat secret location that sees people get together and share their thoughts about life in Anderson Valley, is closed for renovation but regular contributor, The Old Buzzard, never sleeps and here is another episode in his insightful series – ‘Signs that the Apocalypse is Approaching’. Buzzard reports:
“From today, TrueCar, a car-pricing website, joins the ranks of American firms ending links with the country’s gun lobby following the Florida school shootings in February. The snubs started last week when First National Bank of Omaha said ‘customer feedback’ prompted it to stop issuing NRA-branded credit cards. A slew of firms subsequently ended discounts for NRA members, including Delta and United, two airlines; Symantec, a software firm; and Avis Budget Group, Hertz and Enterprise, three car-rental outfits. Chubb will stop underwriting an insurance policy marketed to NRA members that covers legal costs in shooting cases, dubbed “murder insurance” by critics. All presumably think it less damaging to appease the anti-gun protesters than to placate Second-Amendment evangelists. FedEx is rare in deciding to stand pat. Despite disagreeing with some NRA policies, the courier implies it would be “discrimination” to stop offering preferential treatment to its members — thus suggesting it doesn’t understand what the word means.”
“Who wore it better?”
PG&E TO THE RESCUE
PG&E crews are working safely and as quickly as possible to restore power to customers in Mendocino and Humboldt Counties whose power has been affected since Friday due to snow and trees impacting power lines.
The good news is that hundreds of customers’ power in Humboldt County (Petrolia and Garberville) was restored last night when PG&E crews installed primary generation; however, crews are still making repairs on those lines. And there are still 20 customers without power in Garberville.
Right now, PG&E crews are now working safely and as quickly as possible to restore power to:
- 20 customers in Garberville (mentioned above)
- 40 in Honeydew
- 4 in Laytonville
- 20 in Cummings
- 20 in Leggett
- 19 in Westport
In addition, PG&E is using helicopters today to make repairs on the power lines – we will only fly along power lines TODAY and TONIGHT, and possibly tomorrow morning in:
- Rio Dell
- On Underwood Lane in Leggett
The helicopter will be:
- Humboldt County – Bell Huey, Tail Registration N4582D
- Mendocino County – Bell 407, Tail Registration N406P