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Mendocino County Today: Friday, March 16, 2018

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by Mark Scaramella

PROPERTY, SALES and the Bed Tax are all up from last year. They’ve been steadily increasing since the Great Recession in 2009. That’s probably why official Mendo doesn’t seem worried about a number of significant budget overruns in several departments as reported in last Tuesday’s “mid-year budget report.”

BY MENDO'S flickering lights, checking the budget every six months — well after significant budget problems can get way out of control — is standard practice. Monthly budget status reports have been scrupulously avoided by official Mendo for years. Nobody seems to care much about overruns anyway in these relatively flush days. These latest overruns are on top of other planned large increases in expenses like last year’s across the board pay raises for everybody — cost of living increases, “supplemental pay,” and “longevity pay” — especially including the huge raises the Supervisors gave themselves and their fellow top executives late last year — all of which translate to higher pension costs. Quaint nostalgics will recall the days when elected officials at least gave lip service to the old saw, “Spend public money as carefully as you would spend your own.”

THERE'S also a significant reduction of almost $500k in property tax revenues (probably more by the time the numbers are finalized) due to the loss of several hundreds homes that were burned to the ground in the Redwood Complex fires last October. There have been several other large unplanned expenses too: Fire response and recovery expenses and materials, local share of state and federal debris removal, and an estimated $2.5 million allocated to more such additional costs next year.

Typical of the off-handedness and casual way County overruns are dealt with was this completely (actually incompletely) uninformative summary which purports to explain several of the larger overruns:

BU 2851 Planning and Building Services 

–Deficit: $843,068

–Due primarily to a revenue shortfall of $550,520, an increase in Professional Services costs and increases in salaries for certain planning and building staff.

BU 2310 Sheriff – Coroner 

–Deficit: $1,091,278

–Due to a variety of unanticipated costs including negotiated salary and wage increases and underfunding concerns expressed by the department during the build of their 2017-18 budget.

BU 2510 Juvenile Hall 

–Deficit: $432,126

–Due to the termination of the Lake County contract at the end of the first quarter.

BU 2012 Court Collections 

–Deficit: $588,832

–Due primarily to repayment of costs associated with State audit findings and lower than anticipated revenue. The Court Audit by State Controller’s Office resulted in a finding that netted a shortage in the County’s Maintenance of Effort payment to the State, from prior fiscal years, in the amount of $462,605.

Which doesn’t even mention the giant budget deficit in the pot permit program.

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THE BIGGEST BUDGET GAP, as we predicted before it even began, was in the pot permitting program. The County expected about $1.7 million in tax revenues, but only got about $700k. They also estimated to get about $1.1 million in permit fees but only got about $270k. (Don’t forget they’re hiring and spending as if these impossible revenue projections will be realized.) Plus they have to refund $115k for “cottage industry permits” which also wasn’t explained, but probably has to do with denied permits.

NEWLY HIRED POT PROGRAM MANAGER Kelly Overton looks like he’s put his animal rights activism outfit aside in favor of a very button down managerial look.


He’s new, so there’s no point being too hard on him now. But his late Tuesday afternoon explanation of what he’s doing to address the problems in the pot permit program was, in a word, weak — and didn’t even mention the budgetary aspect of it. Mr. Overton seems to have dug deep into one of Peter Drucker’s books on management as he gushed at length about “internal process improvements,” prioritization, customer service, “we speak to people and we listen to people,” “we will meet with local stakeholders,” “system building,” “better communications,” “continuous quality improvement,” “information sharing,” “always be making improvements,” “better use of technology,” “team building,” “we have responded and more improvements will be made.” …

(The closest Overton got to specifics were vague mentions of installing a fast lane at the pot permit checkout counter so that more complicated issues can be discussed off-line without making simpler questions wait. An idea so obvious we can’t believe even needs to be mentioned.) He also mentioned use of the County’s GIS instead of Google Earth for mapping questions and improved methods of scanning documents.

Overton compared his office staff to waiters in a restaurant who have suddenly begun moving around more efficiently since he came aboard. He said he expects to provide more detailed data and trends in the future and identify “internal and external problems.” He’s expects to “soft-launch” (oooh!) three (three!) new social media pages and programs. And more PSAs for people who don’t have internet access. And more working groups to explain the programs. “These things just scratch the surface,” confessed Overton, perhaps beginning to realize that streamlining and tweaking a preposterously overcomplicated program still leaves a preposterously overcomplicated program. “You might not see results,” Overton admitted further, “but it’s going to allow us to address everything related to cannabis.”

NOBODY WANTED to throw cold water on poor Mr. Overton, as the board smiled their usual fake smiles and nodded their fake head-nods and offered their trite statements of appreciation and welcome. But he better put his newbie naivete behind him pretty soon. If not, he’ll find himself going down the same path that Mr. Moreo and Ms. Curry went before him.

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It’s tough to hear about yet another good person leaving the County. I am sorry for the way you were treated, Diane Curry. Carmel Angelo has been at the helm for way too long. When she got her position, the County overall became meaner-spirited, to the detriment of staff and services. Her nasty influence became very clear the longer she was there. As an SEIU steward, I saw it in the ways staff members were treated if they had done something that caused them to be investigated by Human Resources. HR used a guy out of Rohnert Park to do some of their work, and he was an absolute jerk, really a prick. He treated those under investigation as if they were criminals. I filed a complaint against him, to no avail. Carmel should just leave and go out to pasture and let someone decent and sensible take over. Shame on her for all the destructive, mean things she has done. It would be a great thing for the County to have a new start.

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Thanks to all the vendors and customers who have made the Boonville Winter Market such a success for 10 years. Some might remember that we began as the GrangeMart at the AV Grange for two years before we moved to Boonville to become the Boonville Winter Market. Our first year in Boonville was in front of Lauren’s restaurant. We then moved to our final location in front of Seebass, next to the Boonville General Store.

Thanks also to the AV Grange, Lauren's, the Boonville General Store and Seebass for supporting the effort to make a farmers’ market available year round in Anderson Valley.

Unfortunately, we no longer have someone available to coordinate this effort. For this reason, the Boonville Winter Market will no longer be in operation. Stay tuned for upcoming announcements on the future of farmers’ markets in AV.

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To Douglas Chouteau,

In death, as in life, your “Dougisms” continue to whisper in our ears. May you travel in peace and may you know that you are sorely missed.

Judy Sperling

Fort Bragg

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On Tuesday, March 13, at approximately 5:55 am, officers of the Fort Bragg Police Department were dispatched to 900 North Main Street, (Calvary Chapel Church) for a report of burglary and vandalism. The reporting party advised they believed the suspect may still be inside the building, due to finding an interior door barricaded.

Officers arrived and immediately began a tactical sweep of the building interior, however, no suspect was located inside. Officers then began processing the crime scene and discovered that the suspect had somehow gained entry to the church and discharged numerous fire extinguishers throughout the church, covering the interior and expensive office equipment with destructive fire retardant powder.

Several ceiling tiles were damaged and broken, as well as water and cases of soda being poured on the chairs, floors, and walls of the sanctuary.

Based on reports of a verbal altercation occurring the previous evening, where Morris burst into a clergy member’s home, law enforcement and clergy had reason to believe that Morris had reasonable motive to commit the acts against the place of worship. Morris was a former church member, and well known to the clergy and their families.

Morris was later located and interviewed. Based on supporting evidence, and Morris’ admission to unlawfully entering and vandalizing the church property, Morris was arrested and transported to the Mendocino County Jail in Ukiah, CA where he awaits arraignment.

(Press release from the Fort Bragg Police Department)

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Less than three months after California launched legal marijuana sales for adults, the state could consider temporarily slashing hefty tax rates that some say are driving buyers into the black market. Growers and sellers in the nation's largest legal marketplace have been complaining that taxes, that in some cases can near 50 percent, are too high. Many consumers, they say, are shopping in the underground market to save a buck or two.

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Merlin Tinker gave me directions and I went to his house and recorded the interview on my old tablet, set on a hassock in the living room. There's a little noise, but that kind of adds to things. There are these lovely chime clocks every once in awhile bonging out a collective aimless tune together -- kind of like at Juanita's house, except these ones have real bells in them, not a chip -- and the rain starts and stops on the roof. The refrigerator compressor clicks on and off. Somewhere in the distance a dog barks. The sound quality changes abruptly when I pick the recorder up and we move into the shop, a small room, to examine the tools, including of course the wondrous antique dentist's drill that he uses for fine work. You get to hear it whizz and spark. And photographs. Photographs on the radio.

It's neat; we all know Merlin Tinker fixed sewing machines and other machines for umpty-ump years, but most of what he talks about in the interview is his previous life in early-and-mid-1960s computer programming for various companies: airlines, railroads, American Cyanamid, DuPont. And his ending-up-in-Northwest-Nowhere story is at the same time your ordinary story and not your ordinary story. Also we find out how his hand got that way.

I'll just play the whole thing for the first hour of my show on Friday, and then if you miss that because 9pm is too late, even after daylight saving time, the recording of the show will be up on my weblog, as usual, by Saturday night, and you can get it there.

Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio: Every Friday, 9pm to 4 or 5am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg, and 105.1fm KMEC-LP Ukiah. And also there and anywhere else via or and if none of that works for you try and look up KNYO-LP. (TuneIn might play a thirty-second-long ad of their own for soda pop or condoms or laxative beer or something before it passes you through. Don't be frightened away.)

Marco McClean

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BASTA! (Recommended Reading)

Recently released “Napa at Last Light” (James Conaway), reveals the long, sad history of land use abuses in Napa Valley, and the decline of the once abundant natural resources wrought glamorous and gluttonous, in the fight for exploitation of the spectacular watersheds that now serve the high-end manufacturers and marketers of “fine wines” — while destroying traditional agriculture and rural community values.

Here are some of the reviews, so far:

Long-term impacts on water supplies, soil nutrition, green-house gas emissions, and careful conservation practices that once protected real “farming" from the rapacious profiteering of massively overagrandized wine peddlers (now corporatized and impersonal), this careful observer of the culture, society, and civic authorities explains the origins of policy perversions felt by many in surrounding counties (including the County of Lake).

Sheds new “light” on the unseamly sellout of our irreplaceable natural resources for tourist nickels on this side of the Cow. (Cow Mountain)

Betsy Cawn
The Essential Public Information Center
Upper Lake, CA

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Flow Kana, a cannabis distributor in the Bay Area, sent neatly packed boxes of ‘premier artisan’ weed to the dressing rooms of Oscar nominees, presenters and performers.

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To the Editor:

Regarding the April 14, 2017 article about the City of Ukiah’s approval of a $4 million loan for road improvements in support of a future Costco, I would make the following points. First, the $4 million figure fails to include an additional $1.8 million that, as mentioned in the article, the City will need for re-construction for Airport Park Blvd. improvements, for a total of $5.8 million. City Manager Sangiacomo maintains that those additional funds are tied up in an unsettled lawsuit; therefore, they are not assured. In fact, has a contract ever been signed by Costco ensuring that the company will indeed locate in Ukiah, and when that would happen? While over the years of reading UDJ articles it appears that this newspaper, along with the City Council, are in favor of the Costco, I wonder if their primary reason concerns an upside down retirement system budget? Is this solution to that problem worth causing the Lucky Market to vacate the shopping center on Perkins, effectively shutting down the viability of the entire center? Is it worth losing many of the small businesses that regularly advertise in this newspaper, and have long contributed to the business and community climate of Ukiah’s downtown?

Who remembers that the City Council used the need to retain the Lucky supermarket for poorer and elderly residents as the key reason cited for refusing to allow the expansion of the Walmart? So now that’s not important? And really, will $5.8 million in road improvements actually be all that is needed to make the roads around a Costco usable? It seems to me that even now, traffic flow is problematic and the road conditions are dangerous.

I have seen what a Costco can do to a small town. It will close down small, established, and unique businesses; cost more jobs than it will provide; and create more blight in the Ukiah downtown — all for extra large packs of toilet paper. Fair trade? Not to me.

Tom Schoeneman

Redwood Valley

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by Hank Sims

In a meeting in Ukiah Wednesday morning most notable for its air of defeatism, the board of directors of the North Coast Railroad Authority — never before known for shying from scuffles — voted unanimously to cautiously support potential legislation that would dissolve it forever.

Even though it was the last item to be discussed on Wednesday’s agenda, the shadow of that draft legislation — Sen. Mike McGuire’s Senate Bill 1029 — hung over the chambers of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors almost from the moment the NCRA board took its seats, and abruptly altered the direction the board seemed ready to take on several regular-business matters, from a fish restoration project on the Eel River to the sale of assets on Eureka’s Balloon Track.

The proposed McGuire legislation seems to have broken the back of the authority, which just months ago was as pugnacious and ready to take on all comers as ever it had been. It filed papers with the United States Supreme Court seeking to overturn a California Supreme Court ruling, while at the same time its executive director, Mitch Stogner, floated the idea that the legislature could provide new, regular sources of funding for the public agency that was asking the federal high court to undermine its own laws.

Instead of that, the legislature — or McGuire, at least — seems to be more in the mind of doing away with it altogether. Director John McCowen, who sits on the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, told his fellow directors that members of an ad-hoc NCRA committee dealing with legislative matters had met individually with representatives from McGuire’s office over the previous week, and what they heard was not encouraging … at least from the standpoint of the 30-year-old state railroad agency’s long-term future.

“[Their] message was, ‘We really want to hear what you think. We want to hear your recommendations’,” McCowen told his fellow directors. “But my impression was that they were pretty clear about the direction they wanted to take.”

In reality, as more than one director noted, McGuire’s action comes at the tail end of a remarkable year-long effort by the state bureaucratic apparatus to reel the authority back into the fold, or into reality. In July of last year, the California Transportation Commission called the authority’s directors to appear at a public hearing, at which point they were roundly berated and asked to prepare a “shutdown plan.” They followed this up with an official recommendation that the legislature should convene a special commission to sort out what to do with the authority, which has managed more than 300 miles of mostly dead track between the Bay Area and Humboldt County since the mid-‘90s.

In response, the NCRA prepared what it called a “draft strategic plan” to present to the California Transportation Commission, in which it finally conceded, 20 years after the last train to Humboldt ran, that it would never be able to reopen the section of the line between Willits and a point just south of Scotia — the so-called “Eel River Canyon” section of the railroad, built along steep banks and on top of nightmarishly slippery soils. It allowed that it would be willing to “railbank” that section of the line, in exchange for hefty payments of funds from some other state agency.

Instead, the McGuire plan seems to be to railbank that section of line with no payment, and to simply eliminate the NCRA instead. The tracks from Willits to the Bay Area would be handed over to some other entity capable of running trains — possibly Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit — and the northern end, from Arcata to Willits, would be given over to a new agency, which McGuire’s bill will call “The Great Redwood Trail Agency.” This new trail agency would have the option to fix up track and run trains on the very northern tip of the line, around Humboldt Bay and a little south, if it so chooses.

Seeking to soften the blow somewhat this morning, Stogner — one of the authority’s only full-time employees — reminded the NCRA board that McGuire’s proposal is still only in draft form, and that the bill, when introduced, will pass through numerous committees in each house of the legislature, and will undoubtedly be amended dozens of times.

“It’s a structure,” Stogner says. “It’s a framework. The detail will come later.”

The big issue will be funding — where will the money come from to retire NCRA’s old debts, or to build trails along the Great Redwood Trail agency’s right of way? His implication: There would be many opportunities to shape, or oppose, the bill.

But many of the directors, including McCowen, seemed inclined to take events philosophically.

“We do need to distinguish between NCRA as an entity and the mission for which it was created,” he said, noting that McGuire’s legislation mirrored the key planks of the strategic plan the NCRA eventually presented to the CTC — rail service in the south, a trail north and the outside possibility of trains along Humboldt Bay. The only difference was in whether the NCRA existed to administer those things.

Following this point, Director Caryl Hart — a trails and open-space advocate who was attending her first meeting as one of Sonoma County’s appointments to the NCRA board — said that if McGuire’s legislation mirrors the NCRA’s own stated priorities, perhaps the board should consider officially supporting the legislation.

“I think that would be very well received by him and others at the state level,” Hart said.

Her colleague from Sonoma County, Director David Hagele, agreed. Supporting the legislation, he argued, would give NCRA board members a seat at the table as the McGuire bill moves forward.

“This isn’t about us,” said Hagele. “It’s about who we’re serving, who we’re representing.” The communities along the line will inevitably have interest in what happens to the NCRA assets going forward, and the individual members of the NCRA board would be better positioned to advocate for their home towns if the NCRA did not fight dissolution.

This argument carried the day. Hart made a motion to express support for McGuire’s dissolution bill, insofar as the bill conforms to the NCRA’s own strategic plan, as presented to the CTC, as it goes forward. All seven board members present voted in favor, and the motion carried.

Earlier in the meeting — and with the McGuire legislation in mind — the board again put off selling or leasing railroad assets through Eureka’s Balloon Track to the property’s owner, Rob Arkley’s Security National. A Caltrans representative at the meeting warned the board that any attempt to dispose of property “in the current political environment” would likely be heavily opposed by the California Transportation Commission.

Director Richard Marks, who represents Humboldt County on the NCRA board, argued that instead of attempting to get rid of the property, the board should pursue finding tenants to rent and rehab the problem building on the site. NCRA staff agreed to look into this alternative.

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “The boss tells me he's running for the KZYX board of directors, and in the same breath he says, ‘And if by some fluke I get elected, I'll demand a recount.’ I really don't understand these people.”

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“We found an error on the list I sent last night. I've attached the updated list.”

— Katrina Bartolomie
Asst Registrar of Voters/Asst Clerk Recorder
County of Mendocino

CANDIDATE LIST June 2018 (revised)

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Ed Note: To our eyes, the only difference appears to be in the description of Ms Kroppmann's vocation, which was changed from "Property Appraiser II" to "Real Property Appraiser II".

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ON TUESDAY the California Highway Patrol issued an update on the ReTech carjacking incident on Highway 101 near Hopland.

On March 6, 2018, at about 1:30pm a carjacking occurred in the parking lot of ReTech systems, north of Hopland. While the accomplice was located and arrested on the day of the event, the carjacking suspect led law enforcement officers on pursuits and then escaped arrest by fleeing on foot into a heavily wooded area. The Highway Patrol and the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, working with the Alameda County Auto Theft Task force, identified the suspect as David Bonino II, 33, from Alameda. Task Force detectives located him in Alameda County and he was taken into custody there with the assistance of the Oakland Police Department. Bonino is being held on multiple charges including carjacking, assault with a deadly weapon, and several other felony and misdemeanor charges.

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Dear AVA,

As you know, my grandfather, Homer Mannix, started the AVA all those years ago. So I do appreciate freedom of the press and all the AVA does for the community and its readership. But you sir, Mr. McEwen, are compromising the integrity of the paper itself. I don't know if you are uninformed or purposely trying to snub me in your articles that twist details, embellish truths and report errors as factual.

Here's some truth worth noting:

There were two people in the house who did not answer the door when police were knocking loudly to serve a welfare check. These same people also reported seeing Dennis Boardman alive after I was verified to have been out of the area (via San Francisco Bridge cameras and a Home Depot camera in Southern California with a date and time stamp).

There is a second set of DNA on the murder weapons that does not belong to Dennis Boardman nor myself. It matches neither of our DNA. So some unknown DNA found on the murder weapons used on the decedent remains unverified.

Police did not conduct a thorough initial investigation of the occupants found inside the dwelling or the dwelling itself. There is not a single shred of evidence connecting me to the inside of the house. Most importantly, the person or persons who actually committed this heinous crime are still at large.

It seems to me that you are simply intent on toxifying the jury pool with your shoddy renditions of observable facts. I am compassionate and empathetic. I love Dennis with all my heart and contrary to the belief of some I am innocent of this crime. However, I am not afraid to admit when I'm wrong. Hence the no contest plea to the burglaries and admittance to vehicle theft.

I mean, come on man, at the very least you can do is get the court dates right so that concerned citizens can show up to participate in local government at the right time.

I did not point out all of the inaccurate reporting and individual details you either "misheard" or purposely and falsely reported to make me look bad. You have been embarrassed not only me but my family and loved ones who exist in the very community that your paper serves.

Your job is not to ostracize me and alienate readers from the truth. Your job is to report the facts. My grandfather is no doubt rolling over in his grave.


Caleb Dain Silver


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Bruce McEwen replies:

Dear Caleb Silver,

I am not about to argue the merits of your case with you, Caleb. There are several reasons for this, but they are not open for discussion, so you will have to accept that it's just my policy never to do it. Besides, it's the jury you need to convince, not me.

As for my "shoddy renditions" of "facts" and "truths" anybody who reads the AVA or any other press accounts of your case will be dealt with by the judge and lawyers, and excused for cause.

You often include in your letters, such as the ones used as evidence against you, that you are "really sweet" and in this letter you stress that "I am compassionate and empathetic."  These testimonials seem a bit strained to me, Caleb, almost desperate.  How often do we hear people saying such piteous things about themselves?  Answer: Only when it's the last thing anyone else would be likely to say about them.

Also Caleb, whether your grandfather founded the AVA or not, the office of telling me how to do my job did not devolve on you through some kind of primogeniture. You are not my employer and you do not tell me my job description.

And just for the record, I not only think you murdered Dennis Boardman, but I also sincerely believe there's nothing you'd like better than to take a hammer to the skull of your trusty courthouse correspondent,

Bruce McEwen

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CATCH OF THE DAY, March 15, 2018

Byer, Fuller, Hammer

DAVID BYER, Willits. Failure to appear.

GERALD FULLER, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

DANNY HAMMER, Upper Lake/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

Lyons, Martinez, Shelton

JEFFERY LYONS, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

JORGE MARTINEZ, Willits/Mendocino. DUI, license suspended for DUI, unlawful to operate vehicle, parole violation.

BRITTANY SHELTON, Chico/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

Smart, Taylor, Thomas

SETH SMART, Willits. Assault, battery, controlled substance, vandalism, probation revocation.

THERON TAYLOR, Willits. Parole violation.

JOSHUA THOMAS, Sherman Oaks/Covelo. Probation revocation.

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Growing up in the fifties, my homeroom in 8th grade Jr. High was the metal shop, right next door to woodworkin’. All male. The shop teachers were notorious psychos. Their MO was puttin’ rabblerousers in a metal shop locker and giving it a whack with a 3 lb. sledge at random intervals. I can’t imagine how that would go over in this day and age! My 6th grade teacher was prone to jackin’ up trouble makers in the hallway! (WW2 vet and the only male teacher in the school). We didn’t have too many discipline problems needless to say.

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* * *


A place about knowing and radically changing the whole world

by Andy Zee, Revolution Books and co-initiator of

Sunday, March 18, 6 PM

Revolution Books, Berkeley

Emergency Program

On March 3, fascist thugs attacked Revolution Books Berkeley, threatening to BURN IT DOWN.   Charlottesville...the Trump/Pence regime... the spectre of the torching of Bookstores... fascists are on the move.  Will we stand together to stop it? Will all who value critical thinking and humanity come together and act?

Three futures are sharply posed: fascism consolidating in the world's most powerful country with echoes internationally; the system that has given rise to fascism once again; and the potential for a radically different and better world. Revolution Books is the political, intellectual, and cultural center of a movement for an actual revolution to bring about that better world.

At the heart of Revolution Books is the game-changing breakthrough in scientifically understanding the world and the vision and strategy for that radically new society — to get beyond all forms of oppression and exploitation, a world where humanity could truly flourish: the new communism developed by Bob Avakian.

RB has the books that matter, the critical discourse, and a connection to the movement for revolution. RB is a bookstore with literature, history, science, art, philosophy, and revolutionary theory... a place of discovery and engagement. Scientific and poetic, wrangling and visionary.

This, the fascists and reactionaries hate and seek to destroy.

This, all who care about the future must come together and defend.

Revolution Books: 2444 Durant Ave, Berkeley
Send statements of support to:

* * *

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by Shepherd Bliss

Sonoma County, California

Driving through small-town Sebastopol on March 14 toward the Senior Center, this 73-year-old noticed groups of young students with signs gathering on downtown street corners and waving to motorists. These active participants in direct democracy joined thousands who walked out of schools across the U.S. and the world, organized by the Women’s March Youth branch.

As I got closer to the students, a variety of feelings, thoughts, and memories emerged. Tears of appreciation began to drip from my eyes, as I learned why they were protesting.

Then I smiled at them and flashed the peace sign, as I used to during the active 1960s. I eventually resigned my U.S. Army officer’s commission to join the marches that finally helped ended the American wars on the people of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Spending a short time in jail, before being released--since I was merely expressing my First Amendment freedom of speech--was worth it.

I’m proud of our middle and high school students, as well as others, for non-violently standing up to defend their generation against those who continue to shoot innocent youth and others in Florida and elsewhere. “Lives matter more than guns. Enough is enough!” were among the signs.

Many teachers and administrators supported students wanting to join the brief marches. California Rep. Mike Thompson created a video, which schools are showing, where he encourages students to “stand up and speak out” against gun violence.

Each event had its own character. The Sebastopol rallies were relatively dignified and many protestors had taped their mouths. All corners of Santa Rosa High, in contrast, were full of students waving signs, chanting, and expressing a call to action and a show of force.

An estimated 500 students, about a quarter of Santa Rosa High’s student body, joined the walkout. In nearby Petaluma around 2000 students from a dozen schools walked out. Some wore bright orange #Never Again shirts, a prominent hash-tag, according to the daily Press Democrat.

Nearly all of the 1300 students at Sonoma Valley High School gathered with signs such as “I should be writing my term paper instead of my will” and “Never Again!” Some waved the American flag and shouted things such as “It’s time for the next generation to take over!”

My feelings eventually ranged from a mixture of sadness — because these students needed to protest — to appreciation for their bravery against those who threaten the Earth’s future.

“Too Young to Protest? 10-Year-Olds Beg to Differ” headlined a March 14 New York Times article. “It started last month as a writing exercise on the 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade, when more than 1000 students skipped school and marched to demand civil rights,” the article began. So the current marches have also been a history classroom.

“The classroom assignment mushroomed into a plan—hatched by 10-and-11-year-olds—to stage a little civil disobedience of their own,” the article notes.

“We Won’t Let the N.R.A. Win” headlines another Times article, written by three New Jersey high school students. “The killings of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida may be the massacre that finally gets federal and state governments to enact common-sense gun control laws,” the students commence their article.

They remind us, “That should have happened after Columbine. It should have happened after Virginia Tech. It should have happened after Sandy Hook. But it didn’t. The Stoneman Douglas School is where our generation draws a line.” So they imagined and then created what some organizers describe as the National School Walkout.

17 is the number of students and staff killed at the Florida school. Many of the events were scheduled for 17 minutes.

“March for Our Lives is not just one day,” the students conclude. “We must all stand with Stoneman Douglas students and say, ‘Never again.’ This isn’t about being aligned with one political party or another. This is about protecting this nation’s children.”

The American Civil Liberties Union helped train some students in their direct actions. The creation of a sense of community was among the marches’ goals.

Meanwhile, a series of violent threats have been scrawled on campuses, including at Santa Rosa High in Northern California.

“We are the future of this country, yet we can no longer assume we are safe from mass shootings in our schools. Nor can we assume our elders will protect us,” the students write.

When I arrived at the Sebastopol Area Senior Center, I spoke with other elders about the issues these youth raise. We agreed that we should support their leadership and join these brave “first responders.”

“Eloquent young voices, equipped with symbolism and social media savvy, riding a resolve as yet untouched by cynicism,” is how the New York Times described the rallies.

In Lower Manhattan, Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined a die-in at Zucotti Park, the former home of the Occupy Wall Street protests.

“Hey-hey, ho-ho, the N.R.A. has to go,” students chanted as they marched to the D. C. Capital steps. They were met by members of Congress, the most popular of whom seemed to be Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Stay tuned for at least two more nationwide protests on March 24 and April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine murders, as students continue to gather steam and define their movement.

(Dr. Shepherd Bliss is a retired college teacher and farmer who has contributed to 24 books.)

(Click to enlarge)

The Sunridge 8th grade class arranged this memorial in front of their school before heading down to Main Street to participate in a 17 minute moment of Silence.  It was quite moving to see. When you are faced with something like this, it hits home.  I am so glad these kids are changing our world. (photo by Bill Shortridge)

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“They probably got the idea from one of those protesty video games.”

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by Hunter S. Thompson (1966)

By 1950 many Linkhorns were participating in the money economy. They owned decent cars and even houses. Others, however, broke down under the strain of respectability and answered the call of the genes. There is a story about a Linkhorn who became a wealthy car dealer in Los Angeles. He married a beautiful Spanish actress and bought a mansion in Beverly Hills. But after a decade of opulence he suffered from soaking sweats and was unable to sleep at night. He began to sneak out of the house through the service entrance and run a few blocks to a gas station where he kept a hopped up 1937 Ford with no fenders — and spent the rest of the night hanging around honky-tonk bars and truck stops, dressed in dirty overalls and a crusty green T-shirt with a Bardahl emblem on the back. He enjoyed cadging beers and belting whores around when they spurned his crude propositions. One night, after long haggling, he bought several mason jars full of home whiskey which he drank while driving at high speed through the Beverly Hills area. When the old Ford finally threw a rod, he abandoned it and called a taxi which took him to his own automobile agency. He kicked down a side door, hotwired a convertible waiting for tune-up and drove out to Highway 101 where he got in a drag race with some hoodlums from Pasadena. He lost, and it so enraged him that he followed the other car until it stopped for a traffic light — where he rammed it from the rear at 70 miles an hour.

The publicity ruined him, but influential friends kept him out of jail by paying a psychiatrist who called him insane. He spent a year in a rest home. And now, according to the stories, he has a motorcycle dealership near San Diego. People who know him say he's happy — although his driver's license has been revoked for numerous violations, his business is verging on bankruptcy, and his new wife, a jaded ex-beauty queen from West Virginia, is a half-mad alcoholic.

It would not be fair to say that all motorcycle outlaws carry Linkhorn genes but I'm a nobody who has ever spent time among the inbred Anglo-Saxon tribes of Appalachia would need more than a few hours with the Hells Angels to work up a very strong sense of deja vu. There is the same sulking hostility toward "outsiders," the same extremes of temper and action, and even the same names, sharp faces and long boned bodies that never look quite natural unless they are leaning on something.

Most of the Angels are obvious Anglo-Saxons, but the Linkhorn attitude is contagious. The few outlaws with Mexican or Italian names not only act like the others but somehow look like them. Even Chinese Mel from Frisco and Charlie, a young Negro from Oakland, have the same Linkhorn gait and mannerisms.

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President Trump apparently has picked Larry Kudlow as his economic adviser to replace Gary Cohn.

Paul Krugman's professional opinion of Kudlow in 2016:

Kudlow is to economics what William Kristol is to political strategy: if he says something, you know it’s wrong. When he ridiculed “bubbleheads” who thought overvalued real estate could bring down the economy, you should have rushed for the bomb shelters; when he proclaimed Bush a huge success, because a rising stock market is the ultimate verdict on a presidency (unless the president is a Democrat), you should have known that the Bush era would end with epochal collapse.



  1. Randy Burke March 16, 2018

    He’s expects to “soft-launch” (oooh!) three (three!) new social media pages and programs. And more PSAs for people who don’t have internet access. And more working groups to explain the programs. “These things just scratch the surface,” confessed Overton, perhaps beginning to realize that streamlining and tweaking a preposterously overcomplicated program still leaves a preposterously overcomplicated program. “You might not see results,” Overton admitted further, “but it’s going to allow us to address everything related to cannabis.” I love to bathe in “New People” Hogwash. Though I fail to see how it all relates to Peter Drucker. Guess I need to go back to some of his writings. Anyhoo, beware of those who enter the arena with all the bullshit current new age speech patterns. If Dr. Peter was right about one thing, this guy is already at his level of incompetence by what I would say was his first job interview with the board and an unprepared, burned out public.

  2. james marmon March 16, 2018

    It’s going to be difficult for Mr. Overton and Angelo to find a new AG Commissioner that is willing to fill the position just for their signature and/or stamp. Neither Curry or Moreo were willing to do that and risk their licenses and reputations.

    James Marmon MSW

    • james marmon March 16, 2018

      Just skipping through the process and approving the grower’s permits at the County level only to have the State deny them a license later on in the process is not fair to anyone. Its a ripoff. The Board of Supervisors should be ashamed of themselves.

      That’s what Diane Curry tried to explain to them.

  3. Betsy Cawn March 16, 2018

    The management theory known as the “Peter Principle” — which apparently applies to the latest huckster for Mendocino’s cannabis tax-to-fail program — was “formulated by educator Laurence J. Peter” (Wikipedia), based on the “[o]bservation that in an hierarchy people tend to rise to ‘their level of incompetence.'” ( [Also see the “Dilbert Principle.”]

    Peter Drucker, the author of many “principles” of modern management, formulated organizational systems that enabled manufacturers to produce highest quality products by empowering the labor needed to do so. His works include “The End of Economic Man” (1939), “The Future of Industrial Man” (1942), “Concept of the Corporation” (1946), “The Practice of Management” (1954). Drucker’s theories were adopted by many “foreign” manufacturers following the second World War, whose products became the technological standards found in households across America and the world today.

    Mendocino County’s “Budget Woes” reported today by Mark Scaramella signify that Professor Peter’s principle is firmly and fully manifested in the agency entrusted with responsibility for “government efficiency” — one of LAFCo’s oversight criteria, seldom realized in “municipal service reviews” appraising locally self-funded public services — better known as “Administration.”

    Lake County’s current Administration appears to have been emulating Mendocino’s for many years; current practices reflect organizational designs created to maximize employment for hundreds of otherwise mediocre workers, while a few exceptionally skilled and highly respected practitioners labor under constraints that check any transcendent impulses to excel and improve the conditions suffered by all tax payers at their collective mercy.

    Our county officials delivered an amateur production (times five) allowing the individual District Supervisors to purvey administration claims of “budget shortfalls” (unexplained) that will — if not supplemented by more local taxes — result in “more puppies being euthanized” and “cuts to senior programs” (the latter trivialized to near insignificance already), as well as continuation of reduced Sheriff’s Department assistance (half an hour response time for possibly life-threatening encounters) and cessation of their response to requests for welfare checks on mental health clients in hazardous situations. WE are expected to come up with the millions of dollars that the general fund is missing, after the Board of Supervisors voting themselves similar unfunded raises and despite their neglect of known emergency management capacity requirements.

    [Thanks for the tip about our juvenile detention arrangement, by the way; we’ll watch for that to slip into the Supervisors’ consent agenda, which is how our Administration shields many contractual arrangements from scrutiny.]

    • Randy Burke March 16, 2018

      Betsy, thanks for the references. It has been 40 some odd years ago when I studied Drucker at a Seventh Day Adventist University; I had a very good iconoclast for a professor who took us down the roads of Drucker, Peter and the guy who ran Avis (name evades me but he wrote a book” Up the Organization”), and ran Amex for a while. Anyway, here I am at an institution of higher learning and was invited to see Drucker at UC Riverside. It was a memorable moment with him staged in darkness with black drapes in full surrond upon a stage smoking a huge cigar and telling his story. Ahhh, if only the ways of those days were actually realized today when education by meeting the icons of ideas was the order of the day.

  4. chuck dunbar March 16, 2018

    Online Comment of the Day: “The shop teachers were notorious psychos…”

    How true, how true–this one made me laugh out loud! Back in 9th grade shop class, in Killeen Texas,near Fort Hood where my dad was stationed, many years ago: We had a male shop teacher (can’t for the life of me recall his name. Maybe it will pop into my old brain in a day or 2). He had a nice wooden paddle, and man, he just loved to use it on us all. I can still see his funny little, crooked- tooth grin as he called some poor guy to the front of the class and told him to bend over–the whole class was guys, the girls were all in home ec. This was a long time ago–to get the standard 3 whacks. He hit hard, and it was hard not to have tears come to your eyes. I remember that I got called up for this and that a few times–it didn’t take much to get on his radar–and got the treatment. But it was not the end of the world, and in some ways it was a badge of honor to get more than your share of whacks. We were all a little afraid of the guy,but he was only somewhat of a sadist, and we also had some fun. One of my classmates–I swear it was not me–put a bag of dog poop on the shop teacher’s porch one time. We all liked that a lot. The good old days….

  5. chuck dunbar March 16, 2018

    The wonders of memory retrieval: Took me about 3 hours to finally recall my old shop teacher’s name–Mr. Houseman. A triumph for my old brain. This was over 55 years ago, so he’s probably dead, or a really old man by now. Also remembered at the same time that the following year his shop building burned to the ground. The rumor among his former students was that some student finally got even with him…Actually, I hope that wasn’t really true.

    Bless your heart,Mr. Houseman, hope if you’re gone that you’re in shop teacher’s heaven.

  6. Randy Burke March 16, 2018

    Sounds like the same treatment I received and as you state, with a little bit of the receiving crowd….. We almost looked forward to the paddle, but, of course that was Post World War II and just before Korean conflict and Nam….Oh the Kennedy years where even though it was truthfully painful, it was still passionate to those who cared.. I think the paddle would still work if employed in the most set of political correctness. What a bunch of SH-T.

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