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Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, May 29, 2018

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CAROLYN HIBBELN

It is with great sadness that the family of Carolyn Marie Hiatt Hibbeln announces her passing on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, at the age of 58 years. After a 2 ½ year battle with cancer, she passed away peacefully, surrounded by family.

Carolyn will be lovingly remembered by her children, daughter Heather (Tim), son Chris (Brett), her siblings Tammy, Shirley (Chris), Michelle (Brian), Alice (Gale), Charlie, Wayne, nieces, nephews, and extended family and dear friends. She was preceded in death by her husband Michael of 38 years.

Born January 1st 1960 in Santa Rosa, California, she was raised in the quiet town of Boonville. She was president and valedictorian of her graduating class at Anderson Valley High school in 1978. She married her high school sweetheart, Michael, in 1979, and her 2 children were born within 6 years of their union. A banker by profession, she retired in February 2018 after 21 years of dedicated service for River City Bank of Placerville. She was actively involved in her community, and served a term as the president of Soroptimist International of Placerville. She spearheaded the creation of the Helping Hands Program, which provides emergency relief funding to women in crisis.

A California girl at heart, she relocated to Idaho with her family in 1993, where they spent 3 years and made lifelong friends. The family returned to California in 1997 and settled in Placerville, where they spent the last 21 years. A wonderful wife, mother, sister and friend, she spent her free time traveling, gardening, reading, and enjoying life to its fullest with family and friends.

Carolyn was preceded in death by her parents, Kay and Shirley Hiatt, her grandparents Elmer and Ethel Hiatt, and R.E. and Florin Gurley.

Graveside services will be held on June 2, 2018 at Evergreen Cemetery in Boonville, CA, at 1:00 pm. Flowers can be sent to the Eversole Mortuary in Ukiah, California, (707)-462-2206.

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IN DEFENSE OF MICHELLE HUTCHINS

by Kristy Hotchkiss

I have often wondered how I would have fared in the Milgram Experiment. Participants were told to push a button which supposedly would deliver an electrical shock to another "volunteer" when that volunteer gave an incorrect answer. Unerringly, the shocks became ever stronger, until the "volunteer" would cry out in pain. Participants were told they were administering pain for a good reason — not to question, just to proceed. And almost all of them would continue until the "volunteer" appeared to pass out.

I always wanted to believe that I would be one of the few who would refuse to proceed, but most of us will follow orders given by someone seemingly in authority. I also believe that there are a number of people who are, like myself, afraid to speak out, but are silently appalled by the social media and drama presented by a small but vocal faction. If you are reading this letter, you can know that I have passed my own test of moral conscience. I plan to celebrate quietly until the recriminations set in.

I moved here 40 years ago because I didn't want to raise my kids in the impersonal atmosphere of the big city. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone else. You have to take responsibility for your actions if you're going to see and perhaps depend on these same people again and again.

Today, some staff, a few teachers, and even administration are modeling bullying and disrespect, and children are quick learners. They are learning how unkind humans can be to one another. Many in our school community seem to want not just to replace Michelle Hutchins, but to destroy her. In earlier times, these women (and a few men) would have called for a lynching or tar and feathering. I see no reason for it. Her leaving the district is no longer the issue: How it's done says more about us as a community than it does about her.

When Michelle was High School principal, she was celebrated for having brought the high school out of the Dark Ages. After only two years, she was asked to take on Superintendent in addition to her role as Principal. She consented, with one stipulation being that an outside agency prepare a report on the financial status of the District. Ryland School Business Consulting was chosen by the Board. They found 1.) deficit spending that would soon overtake the reserves, 2.) a major problem with regard to Food Service in that most schools make money on their programs while ours was projecting a deficit of $131,000, 3.) an untenably low ratio of students to teachers, especially considering 4.) declining enrollment. Michelle's detractors have attempted to lay these problems at the feet of the Superintendent, conveniently forgetting that they were pre-existing conditions. A bad case of the messenger being shot.

Moreover, when Michelle Hutchins became Superintendent, our district had problems that had not been solved or sometimes even addressed by the former administration and Boards. To wit: Our schools test below average in the County and the County is below average in the State. The Elementary School has been out of compliance with credentialing for the Spanish Literacy Program. The woman in charge of Food Service had been offered little or no guidance or training by the previous administration.

A lot of our community care about the District. This negativity and unpleasantness hurts the District. Raise your hand if you think that recent malicious speech and behavior by staff and a few teachers have made it easier to attract candidates for a new Superintendent! How about new teachers? Staff? Residents to the Valley? Or has it helped to convince the electorate to vote for a new school bond?

The biggest problem I see today is the lack of a positive goal. People seem to think that "disappearing" Michelle Hutchins will magically also make our problems disappear. These people are not living in my reality.

I honestly would like to see changes. Parents want changes. They want to see their children attending schools that prepare them for the world today.

Michelle made some grand changes as principal at the high school. At the recent senior projects presentations, seniors voiced appreciation for the senior seminars that Michelle had brought to the school. I was looking forward to her leading the whole district in the same direction, but she ran up against lack of support from the School Board on down. And eventually this pushback turned nasty.

I hope there are enough of us who see this attack on Ms. Hutchins for what it is: a case of fear — fear of change and fear of the unknown. A very wise man recently said that if a Superintendent were given a vote of no confidence, it was most likely a sign that she was doing her job.

If enough of us vote her in as County Superintendent we can still avail ourselves of her positive attributes for our District and positive changes. Otherwise, we can prepare for the same old funneling of State and County monies into Ukiah schools.

Every cloud has a silver lining. For me, that has been the recent interactions with far-sighted, strong, and rational women and a few men who care passionately about education. Some of these connections are the result of renewing old acquaintances and others have been forged with heretofore complete strangers. I would name them in appreciation, but for the fact that would risk retaliation on their heads from the small group lacking civility and professionalism.

I will say that Michelle Hutchins is one of those special women. And I feel morally obliged to stand up and say so even though I know it's going to cost me some people and relationships. Too many in this community have abandoned respect, courtesy, and good manners. They are willing to listen to and repeat gossip, rumors, and exaggerations, filled with malice and spite, partly because they are afraid of being ostracized themselves, as has happened. But the rest of us can vote for her in the privacy and anonymity of the voting booth.

Sincerely,

Kristy Hotchkiss,

Retired teacher, AVUSD and current School Board member

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NEEDS ASSESSMENT MUDDLES ON

by Mark Scaramella

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” — Albert Einstein (attrib.; he may or may not have actually said it, but whatever, it’s still useful, especially in this context.)

AFTER THE FIRST MEETING OF THE Measure B Oversight Committee back in February we submitted a suggested framework to Sheriff Allman who in turn passed it to his committee. It was obvious that the seriously unprepared Committee was groping and unclear about how to proceed. All they could do was ramble and ramble and hope that somehow consultant Lee Kemper could somehow gather up some stuff and prepare a Needs Assessment. In February CEO Carmel Angelo first said she wasn’t sure if Kemper was available. Then the next month Angelo magically discovered that her own staff had already contracted with Kemper for some other work unbeknownst to the CEO so she suggested that the County simply give Kemper another $40k for the Needs Assessment. After Kemper graciously agreed to take Mendo’s $40k to do something called a “Needs Assessment,” the Supervisors balked and said they wanted a better definition of services and a separate contract. Last week, at the May meeting of the Measure B committee CEO Angelo had reversed herself again, agreeing that her previous proposal to add $40k to the existing contract was “bad practice,” and that the Supes were right to ask for a separate contract. (But in spite of the bad practice they would give Kemper $10k upfront anyway so that he might get started doing whatever he wanted to do sooner.)

Three months later the Committee continues to repetitively grope and discuss the same vague topics wondering what they have, what they “need,” and what would be nice to have someday. As summarized a few days ago by Willits News Reporter Ariel Carmona, Committee member after committee member either re-phrased what others said or simply said they agreed with (or “shared”) what someone else said, then proceeded to say it again and again anyway.

At one point early in last week’s Measure B committee meeting Sheriff Allman correctly pointed out that “nobody knows more about what we have and what we need in this County than Jenine [Miller, PhD, County Mental Health Director].” Yet nobody thought to ask Dr. Miller to provide specific written input as a starting point for Kemper.

Instead, Miller responded vaguely that “Stepping Up has some pieces” of a model that would help, not mentioning any. Miller then stated the obvious again that Mendo has “a unique model; we are very unique compared to any other County in California.” That’s because Mendo has turned over most of its Mental Health activity, carte blanche, whatever it is (nobody seems to know or care, no monthly reports are provided), to a private for-profit contractor, Redwood Quality Management Company.

Typical of the meandering blather of the committee members was this remark by committee member Dr. Jed Diamond, the Willits rep on the Committee. (Keep in mind that Dr. Diamond is a PhD licensed clinical social worker specifically appointed to the committee for his supposed expertise on the subject of mental health.)

Diamond: “Again, I just reiterate, we've got a lot of the things that we want to know that are available. We have heard some of them. I think it's useful to be able to have them written out and I think that what was clear from talking is that some of these things are appropriate and available for somebody like Lee Kemper to address who I agree is very qualified and I have no doubt that he can do it, but some of the things may be things we already know, so when I put my questions out there maybe that's something that Jenine Miller already knows that I don't know that is known or maybe Ace [Barash, Willits MD and fellow committee member] knows or maybe the answer to those questions are already known and we don't need to do the research because we already know the answer. And then finally some things that he may know that we need to be asking that I or collectively we have not thought to ask. So I just haven't heard back. I gather that he's taken all of our input and put it out. I would just like to know that so I know because I assume that everything I asked hasn't been answered or there are other questions that need to be added or that there are ones that he can actually do and if we do that then we can launch this and we can feel comfortable that we have the report back which will answer the things that many of us have discussed with the community as well.”

The committee finally agreed to this embarrassingly simple language for the Kemper Needs Assessment:

“Motion to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that Lee Kemper conduct an inventory of services for individuals suffering from a spectrum of mental illness and levels of care. This would include global/gap analysis of current infrastructure, services and locations. Also request a recommendation for proposed services, facility locations and services sustainability."

This took more than three whole months and it doesn’t even address the five levels of care that mental health facilities should typically include: 1. Acute Inpatient (for 5150s); Locked facility. 2. Sub-Acute. Also a locked facility. For conservatorships where someone else is calling the shots, which can be the Public Guardian (PG) or a family member. 3. Institute for the Mentally Ill (IMD). Also a locked facility for patients that are higher functioning than a sub-acute level, but still require a locked setting. Conservators still make decisions for them. 4. Enriched Board and Care. An open setting. Not locked. Not necessarily conserved (i.e., voluntary or court ordered). 5. Regular Board and Care – Open setting. Basically, transitional housing for some number of days. Less intense treatment.

Sheriff Allman responded, “The way it's written I think everybody is going to understand it."

Unfortunately, even though the Committee has been in a kind of hurry to get things moving, they neglected to include a requested deadline or completion date for Kemper’s Needs Assessment.

And we haven’t even gotten into the Willits City Council’s serious objections to the conversion of Marge Handley’s old Willits Howard Hospital building into a Psychiatric Health Facility of some kind/size in their backyard.

Not to worry though. Dr. Diamond will be handling the Willits situation:

“I have been talking to community people in and around Willits and the Third District. I spoke to Stephanie. She was at the meeting, the city manager of Willits, we talked about my coming to the City Council meeting to provide input to the community. Georgeanne Croskey, the Third District supervisor who appointed me is planning to be at the City Council meeting tonight with me and maybe other members of this board have been invited to the meeting, so for sure I will be there and continue to share [sic] with anybody who wants to contact me or say anything to me about what we're doing anywhere, but specifically in the Third District."

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BE THERE!

The Westport Community is thrilled to present the 20~piece Boonville Big Band, led by the inimitable Maestro Bob Ayres, making their Historic Return to the Inglenook Community Guild (formerly Grange) Hall, North of Cleone. This evening of spirited Swing dance and classic BigBand revelry will include a gala Community potluck Dinner. The Guild will host a bar, featuring beer, wine & surprises! The Westport Community Church recently purchased the Fort Bragg Unified School building that has served our community for 20 years. This benefit will enable The Westport community to use this building to manifest a Community Center to serve our area of the coast. Please join us for an extraordinary evening of FUN! Dance, dine & celebrate this exciting community collaboration as we launch this amazing project! Need More information? Call: 707/964-7721

Bob Ayres' Swinging Boonville Big Band

Dance Concert and Potluck Dinner Benefit for Westport Community Center

Saturday, June 16 at the Inglenook Community Center / Guild Hall

5.5 miles north of Pudding Creek Bridge

26500 North Highway One

Potluck Dinner @ 6 pm ~ bring something yummy to share!

Dance Concert from 7pm ~ 9 pm

proceeds benefit the Westport Community Center

proceeds from the Bar benefit the Fort Bragg Guild

$15 (sliding scale)

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KELLEY HOUSE MUSEUM: ON THIS DAY IN MENDO HISTORY

ON THIS DAY in 1954, Russell W. Preston died at home, during the filming of the movie East of Eden starring James Dean, in which Dr. Preston's house was a bordello. The house burned down in 1956 and the Mendocino Art Center now owns the property.

Dr. Preston

Dr. Preston had practiced in Mendocino assisted by his wife, Estelle Clark Preston (1884-1933). She was a graduate of Mendocino High School who completed her nursing studies at the Alameda City and County Hospital in 1905.

(Via MendocinoSportsPlus)

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THE RATTLERS are out. The Anderson Valley Fire Department, CalFire & the REACH 18 air ambulance were dispatched (4:15 pm) to the Yorkville Post Office last week for the report of a “snake bite.” The patient drove himself in from the hills in a GMC Yukon.

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YOU’RE GETTING to be an old timer if you swam in Doc Marsh’s Indian Creek swimming hole. (That marvelous public amenity was ruined when bad people started hanging out there, breaking beer bottles in the water and generally making the pond unusable by women and children, and anyone else who’d rather not watch stupid people at play.)

“YOU’RE AN OLD TIMER IF YOU… Went to a concert or dinner at the Music Box in Mendocino. Lots of untold, or buried history there. Don Fry was the owner of the Music Box. He was part of the gay scene on the Coast, for what it was, pre-hippy. How many remember, Israeli Folk Dancing on the Coast? That was Don Fry, too. Another gay guy was Ted Watkins, someone who did many people’s taxes, and got many people in trouble with the IRS. Ted built, and operated the Pine Ridge Lodge, later to become Toad Hall. There are lots of Ted Watkins stories, and they are all true. For a period, Don Fry worked at the Pine Beach Lodge as a musician. Don passed about 15 years ago, living in Ukiah, and spending time at Burger King where he was a fixture. It was in his obituary. Go figure. — George Hollister

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FORT BRAGG CITY COUNCILMAN and Director of Medical Staff Services at Mendocino Coast District Hospital, Will Lee, writes:

“As I mentioned at the City Council meeting May 14th, I decided to vote on the resolution supporting Measure C because of the possibility of lost services and lost jobs at the hospital. Those possibilities are “near and dear to my heart” as an elected City Council member. Also, as I said at the meeting, I would have recused myself if the Mayor was present to cast his vote. Since he was absent, and I did not legally have to recuse myself, I decided to vote and demonstrate the Council’s unanimous support for Measure C. “Just because Mr. Macdonald is against Measure C (of course, that is his right) does not mean that those who do support Measure C are all wrong and misinformed. Many of our friends and neighbors (Sheriff Allman, physicians and nurses, League of Women Voters…) AND the City of Fort Bragg, support this community-wide effort to support our hospital and the services offered there every day. This hospital has over 90,000 patient encounters per year (we know Mr. Macdonald chooses not to be one of those visits… attending and writing about Board and Committee meetings are not counted in those encounters), and we are all proud to be a part of our patients’ health care and their well-being. We will continue to care for our patients as we have since the “new” hospital opened in 1971. Stay well."

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I was all set to watch the Warriors-Houston game tonight. I even bought some beer. ‘I'm for Houston, guys,’ I said and they threw me out. One guy says, ‘Thanks for the beer, LD, but get a ride over the hill. You can watch the game at the Shelter’."

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ED NOTES

GRADING OUTGOING SUPES, a reader writes: “What if we were able to grade our Supervisors on their way out? That is, during the election when we are voting for their successor, we also got a chance to rate the outgoing supervisor, essentially grading them on their job performance. And say it was on a scale of one (poor) through ten (excellent), and then their pension would be funded at that percent. For example, if their average score came in at 5.3, then they would be entitled to 53 percent of the full pension. A merit-based pension.”

A GREAT IDEA. Get it on the ballot and it would pass unanimously, except for the Supervisors themselves. Grading the present crew, and to be charitable, I’d say they’ve earned maybe 30 percent of their pensions. Ms. Croskey, as an appointee who’s moving out of the area, presumably won’t get a pension. She certainly shouldn’t have been voting on anything given her temp status. Carre Brown has done an excellent job in protecting cheap water forever for her friends and neighbors in Potter Valley, but on everything else, and like her four colleagues, she’s a slave of the person she’s supposed to be supervising, CEO Angelo, as all of them steadily contribute to the muddle (cf pot policy and the Measure B discussion). The present, and probably the future board, lacks a clarifying person, a person unintimidated by the present leadership and department heads, a person unwilling to simply sign off on indefensible spending. But it takes three votes to move the beast, and we don’t see it being moved.

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NOTE TO CANDIDATE WILLIAMS: Don’t over-think this stuff, kid. We think you’re getting lost in the policy weeds. Take low-cost housing, for instance. Everyone’s for it but other than candidate Pinches, no one has anything but platitudes to say about it. The County itself could buy, say, 200 trailers, place them on selected parcels of County-owned land, rent them to the homeless and the nearly homeless at a fair portion of the prospective tenant’s income, and most of the homeless or near homeless have incomes, however modest. This strategy could amortize itself over time and, if properly managed, even turn a profit over the long haul. And don’t tell us there’s no money for it. There is.

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JACK SILVER says he, too, is poised to sue Fort Bragg, but if Fort Bragg pays him off he'll go away. Fort Bragg has 60 days to cough up. Silver, as he has been doing for years now up and down the Northcoast, has found a technical violation of the Clean Water Act at Fort Bragg's wastewater treatment plant. As he has done in Fortuna, Ukiah, Ferndale and many other regional municipalities, Silver combs Water Quality files for violations — he's never found a deliberate one yet — threatens to sue, the towns pay him to avoid even more expensive litigation and Silver walks away with a quick $25,000 for the time he spent typing up his demand letter. He always sues municipalities because municipalities carry insurance with big deductibles. He hides behind a phony West Sonoma County environmental front whose board of directors consist of his relatives. He claims to devote a portion of his winning fees to environmental good. Evidence of these donations is, shall we say, scant. (Congressman Thompson promised to close the legal loophole via which Silver gets to sue.) These are links to some of the stories the ava has written about Silver's shakedowns:

https://www.theava.com/04/0505-otr-turdwatch.html

https://www.theava.com/archives/9988

https://www.theava.com/archives/23301/comment-page-1

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FIFTH DISTRICT SUPE’S CANDIDATE Arthur Juhl writes:

I just read the article that my fellow candidates for the 5th district have it all in the bag! I guess you, the voters do not want to change the way the county spends the budget. The fellows are all Nice guys, but do the Nice guys have the wherewithal to buck the present county system? If you want Nice guys you must give the CEO another raise as $310,000.00 is not enough to do all the work she does. Also drop plans for housing, homelessness and mental health. As no one understands the budget there will be no money for any project especially the Roads! But if you really want CHANGE you will vote for ME, Arthur E. Juhl. I understand the budget and will reduce the outrageous salaries that are paid to people who really do not know what the hell they are doing. And not waste money paying consultants for a job that county employees should be doing. And find out what happened to the funds set aside for our roads the past 20 or so years!

A crook was caught stealing a million dollars a few years ago, but how long has that been going on? That money was for our roads! And who knows more about mental health, having a Uncle messed up from WW1, and a son that I have been taking care of the last 20years? I put my hat in this race because of Measure B, but found the county really needs help getting the financial crisis understood by you, the people! In order to solve the problems of the county one has to know where the money comes from and where it is going! Without that type of knowledge, it is all Puff.

MARK SCARAMELLA REPLIES:

Nobody really cares, Mr. Juhl. I’ve been complaining about county mismanagement for literally decades with minimal effect, as is obvious to anyone like you who looks at it with a critical eye. I know that several supervisors and the CEO are aware of these complaints and modest suggestions for improvement — some of them even agree that improvement is necessary — yet nothing is done; they don’t even bring up the subject of routine monthly departmental status reporting. Nor does anyone in the public (until Mr. Juhl’s quixotic run) bring it up. The only conclusion one can draw is that nobody in official Mendo wants to know what’s going on. The Supervisors see their job as simply handing out or rubberstamping the handing out of our cash — what happens after that is irrelevant. Besides, if they knew what the departments were doing (or not doing) with our money, they’d have to do something to change it and they don’t want to — that would require conflict and work. Another lesser factor is the ridiculous deference the Supes pay to their own subordinates — as if it’s bad form to inquire or express doubt, much less complain about their operations. The only people who “understand the budget” are the ones who prepare it for largely self-serving and unaccountable reasons. This is probably why Mr. Juhl’s candidacy is trailing behind the candidates who prefer non-starter ideas to management complaints.

AGREE TOTALLY with Art Juhl and my colleague, Spaghetti Scaramella, that Mendocino County isn't managed like anything in free enterprise. Anybody making over a hundred grand at, say, Apple, is always looking over his shoulder because he's expected to verifiably produce. And he or she has had to compete hard against legions of other cyber-wizards to get to the cubicle. Not saying GizmoLandia is a particularly desirable way to pass one's days, but watching Mendo's $80 thou plus medical-dental-pension Supervisors it does verify my father's oft-repeated dictum: "If you want steady, easy work, go to work for the government. It doesn't pay much but nobody ever gets fired; you've got life security." It's probably unfair, but a lot of the people — especially the Supervisors themselves — that you see rambling through content-free presentations at Supe's meetings, wouldn't make the kind of money and get the kind of job security they've got going in Mendocino County if they had to compete out in the jungles of capitalism. Which accounts for the embarrassing nuzzle-butting that goes on — live, too, right there on YouTube. These people live in fear! Of each other, of not being acceptable to the other drones. With the upper echelons of local government — all government, I'm sure — you're either on the bus or no parties in Deerwood, Rogina Heights, and white wine with the Congressman for you. I live for those moments that the untamed James Marmon lumbers up to the mike at Supe's meetings to lash the truth about the wholesale installment plan fraud that claims to be a mental health program. The Supes of course ignore Marmon, if they aren't outright rude to him, and you can almost hear them saying to themselves, "Do we really have to listen to this guy, us the good people, the people working so hard to make government work for ingrates like him?"

AMONG the candidates for the easy money Supervisor job, and I disagree here with the outspoken Juhl, I'd guess that both Williams and Roderick know exactly the magnitude of County management dysfunction, but it's politically dangerous for them to say so. The County blob, like the edu-blob, is large and powerful, at least in their voting because there are so many of them and you can be sure they'll vote for the person who they view as least threatening to them. And they vote. Which is why they definitely don't want people like Juhl and Pinches sitting in authority over them. How well government really serves the people it gets paid to serve is not its purpose anymore. Its purpose is itself. Probably hasn't been operated in the public interest since the Roosevelt Administration.

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AV ELEMENTARY WHEN, WHO?

(Click to enlarge)

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CATCH OF THE DAY, May 28, 2018

Doak, Donahe, Isenhart, Johnson

CHRISTOPHER DOAK, Willits. Domestic abuse, protective order violation, probation revocation.

MICHAEL DONAHE SR., Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)

JIMMIE ISENHART JR., Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)

MATTHEW JOHNSON, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

Ruiz, Swearinger, Waldron

BARAQUEL RUIZ, Ukiah. Controlled substance, probation revocation.

FELIX SWEARINGER, Covelo. DUI with priors.

NEIL WALDRON, Covelo. Controlled substance, protective order violation.

Walrath, Winkler

MARK WALRATH, Ukiah. Metal knuckles, leaded cane or similar, contempt of court.

ERIN WINKLER, Fort Bragg. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

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TOM WOLFE ON THE BRAIN

by Steve Heilig

Tom Wolfe was one of the most influential writers of my youth, as he invented the "new journalism" via writing about surfing ("The Pump House Gang") and dropping LSD ("The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test") and those were pastimes my 1970s Southern California cohort indulged in, sometimes simultaneously. He also made riotous mincemeat of wealthy liberals hosting Black Panthers for crudites in "Radical Chic" and skewered modern art in "The Painted Word," and in the 1980s his popularity exploded with "The Right Stuff" and his first novel, "The Bonfire of the Vanities," both made into hit movies. His subsequent books fared less well with both critics and the public. He also acquired a reputation as something of a conservative crank. But everybody still knew that white suit.

A decade ago, I read somewhere that Wolfe was working on a book on neuroscience, about which he had done a fascinating article a decade before then. On a whim I sent his publisher an email asking if I might interview him. To my surprise Wolfe got back to me within days, saying "In fact I will be in San Francisco next week, staying at the Fairmont Hotel, have you heard of it?" I said I had, and we set up a lunch appointment.

Wearing my best, albeit non-white suit, I showed up in the darkened hotel restaurant atop Nob Hill and asked the maitre'd for Mr. Wolfe. Yessir, he said, and walked me over to a big booth where the famed author sat with a pile of newspapers and what looked to be a very large martini. I nodded to the maitre'd and said "I'll just have what he's having," and sat down. Wolfe looked me over, smiled, and said "I think we are going to get along just fine." I hate martinis but this one was worth it.

We talked through lunch and more drinks, me scribbling on a legal pad. Once I relaxed it was quite fun. I think it was also my one and only true experience of the fabled three-martini lunch. But surprisingly, within a day I had a call from Wolfe, back home in New York, saying, apologetically but firmly, "I know we don't do this, but considering our states of mind and the complexity of the topics, would you fax to me a draft of our interview when you have it written up, so that I might make sure I spoke correctly?" Flattered that Wolfe considered me part of his journalistic "we," I said certainly, even though he was right, real journalists don't do that. But in fact I was having trouble reading my own scribbles anyway.

I faxed about ten pages of my draft to his home office in Manhattan. Within hours I had a fax back, covered in handwritten edits and Wolfeian hieroglyphics. I used all his changes, of course, and the interview appeared on the cover of what was then still the San Francisco Chronicle book section.

His book on the brain never appeared; I think he was in a bit over even his head on that topic. A book on immigration issues he mentioned to me never appeared either. But he did incorporate some of his neuro-thoughts in his final book, 2016's "The Kingdom of Speech," a rambling critique of Darwinism and linguist Noam Chomsky that, judging from reviews only, might have been better left unpublished. Still, Wolfe, whom the late, great Kurt Vonnegut called a genius, left this life this month with an outsized reputation intact. And when I told him that his writing was the reason so many of my friends were acid burnouts, he roared aloud.

Tom Wolfe with Jerry Garcia, Haight/Ashbury, 1966

Here's some of what appeared in our Chronicle interview.

Q: In 1996, you wrote that if you were in college today, you would probably go into neuroscience instead of getting a Ph.D. in American studies at Yale and becoming a writer. If that is still true, why?

Wolfe: I'd certainly still be drawn to it because it's the field that contains the greatest mysteries in all of science. The findings could fundamentally change the way people think about themselves. But we don't know that yet.

Q: What are the questions that fascinate you the most? You wrote then about neuroscience, genetic theories of behavior and sociobiology, for example.

A: Well, first I should say that I made a crucial mistake in that essay, by somewhat conflating genetic theory with neuroscience. The most famous brain physiologist - what we now call a neuroscientist - was Jose M.R. Delgado, MD, a Spaniard, who achieved fame for his stereotaxic needle implants in the brains of animals, through which he discovered some of the areas of the brain that controlled certain functions. He became famous when he stood in a bullring with nothing but a radio transmitter in his hand and allowed himself to be charged by a raging bull in whose brain he had implanted those tiny needles. When the bull came into a range where it would have been impossible for Delgado to get out of the way, he pressed a button and the bull came to a shuddering stop. That was the acid test of a man who knew his brain physiology!

His son, Jose Maria Delgado, also a brain physiologist, made what to me is a fascinating statement in 2004. He said, "We know very little" about the brain. The problem, he said, is not that the brain has millions of neurons but that it has distinct types of neurons and we have no idea what they do. "All the rest," he said, "is literature, not science." And by literature he was talking about all the speculation by people such as Edward O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins and the like, who today have all sorts of theories about the nature of the human brain, but all of whom know practically nothing about the human brain. Wilson knows all about insects and is wonderful to read about that; Dawkins is a former ethologist, studying the social life of animals, who is now the official high priest of Darwinism at Oxford. And there's probably not a second-year neuropsychology graduate student or neurology intern who doesn't know more about the human brain than the whole lot of such people put together. They are writing literature, which doesn't mean they are wrong, but they still don't have a scientific leg to stand on. They literally don't know what they are talking about. Their theories are sometimes called by philosophers "materialism," but the theories are not really complex enough to rate an "ism"!

Q: It sounds as if you think they are dressing up old deterministic thinking into pseudoscientific garb.

A: Yes. All of their writing boils down to this: In order to have a "mind," all we have is the brain and parts of the central nervous system. It is a mechanism with no "ghost in the machine," or "soul" - the brain runs on the molecular and genetic levels, which means that like any machine, the brain has no choice but to act in the way it is programmed. In their minds, it is programmed wholly by genes. Wilson once said the brain is born not as a tabula rasa to be filled in by experience but as a film to be slipped into developing fluid: It can be developed well or poorly, but either way you're only going to get what was on the film to start. So while you may think you're making decisions, you're actually not, and you will react in a certain way in any given situation.

Some of the younger genetic theorists believe that if they had sophisticated enough technology they could predict what you're going to do five seconds from now, or even out to one month. Thus, we all have no choice in what we are saying and doing. But they run into a problem of reflexivity, which is to say that if any given brain has no choice or free will, then even the genetic theorist or neuroscientist himself has no choice in what he says. So why should anybody else accept it as "truth"?

Q: You are speaking on this with great skepticism. What is your own theory?

A: Here's an area of which I do know a great deal: the properties of words. Our "genetic literati" know only the meanings of words, not the properties. I submit that evolution explains the animals, plants and man - or rather, the caveman - up until about 11,000 years ago. Paleontologists agree that farming began about 9,000 B.C., and that means speech evolved at least that long ago, since you cannot have agriculture without speech. Think about it: You cannot even count to 10 inside your head without using words. Speech is an artifact, or something taken from its natural state and turned into something else. Speech is the taking of raw sounds and turning them not only into a means of communication but also of memorization. Of the two, memorization is probably the more important, especially in the form of print, film or video, or, for that matter, blueprints, diagrams and all forms of mathematics and formulas.

Once you have speech, you don't have to wait for natural selection! If you want more strength, you build a stealth bomber; if you don't like bacteria, you invent penicillin; if you want to communicate faster, you invent the Internet. Once speech evolved, all of human life changed.

The first verse in the Gospel according to St. John has three sentences that say it all, even if he didn't quite know what he was saying: "In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God; and the Word was God." And "Word" then also meant wisdom, but if we took it literally, we'd just about have the history of man. It's impossible to have a God without words. I'm guessing that one of the first questions humans asked once they had speech was, "Hey, why are we here, and who made all this?" And they came up with a very large version, or versions, of themselves, but it started with the words, and without those words there would not have been any religion. "Why" is a question no animal can ask, because both the question and answers require speech. Have you ever seen an animal shrug?

Q: I think so, but that's probably projection. So culture and communication are now much more important than genes?

A: Exactly. Culture, communication, memorization and history. I'm willing to say OK, we may have no free will, but speech creates so many variables that it doesn't really matter. No machines will ever truly fully figure the brain out, because the brain's performance is constantly altered or else constrained by this inanimate, rogue artifact you can't control, namely, speech. Laws you obey, scientific findings you assume to be correct, creeds you believe in, existing plans you go by, history as you understand it - these artifacts, once accepted, will affect your thoughts and behavior and use you more than you use them.

Culture is just too big a variable to explain away with genetics. The genetic theorists know they have a problem here, and so have invented two terms to explain it away. Dawkins posits a kind of cultural gene called a "meme," which are words or combinations of words that stick in the mind and spread like a virus. Wilson calls this same phantom a "culturegen." They say Islam is a meme or culturegen, for example. You'll notice that they never proceed to study these memes, however important they might be. They're like military pilots in training, who I learned about while writing "The Right Stuff." A pilot gets in over his head or skill level and drops out, saying, "There's something wrong with my vision," something medical like that. Doctors will find nothing wrong and note that the pilot never asks how long the affliction will last. The genetic theorists know in their hearts that their reasoning is bogus.

Q: Why do you think that so many people, from all sides of ideological debates, seize upon genes as a reason for modern life, whether it be about race and intelligence, sexual orientation or whatever?

A: Well, as Nietzsche predicted, among educated people, religion has become weaker and weaker, and they are left with a choice of believing in science or some irrational substitute for religion. I think it makes people feel better to believe in something that seems scientific. If some personal flaw is encoded in your genes, it's not your fault. There's no use in arguing about the way things are. So we get people expressing ideas such as the notion that women have evolved genetically to have less proficiency in science and mathematics, a notion Harvard's president once commented on to his regret, I'd guess.

Q: And more recently James Watson himself caused a flap and further damaged his reputation by saying something similar about African Americans, in an example of what has been called Nobelist Syndrome, where Nobel Prize winners feel they can pronounce great truths on anything they wish.

A: Exactly. Perfect illustration.

Q: But what about the economics of neuroscience? There is much money going into research, and much more to be made. The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, has sponsored forums in this area. Who stands to benefit most?

A: Offhand, I do not see a direct connection to libertarian thought, but I suppose that, again, certain ideologies would be interested in proving that some behaviors are genetically determined. Libertarians might be interested in issues of "free will," one might guess. And they might object to studying children via genetic assays to ascertain which might have genes that would predispose them to violence, for example. I can't imagine a libertarian putting up with any such nonsense.

Q: You once wrote of humans trying to fully understand ourselves, "as if a group of dogs were to call a conference to try to understand The Dog." But people are still going to try. So are we machines, or something else?

A: There's no question that our brains are machines, but I must keep stressing that speech and the property of words is what really matters.

Q: Somebody else must have already given you the rejoinder that you believe this because you are a writer...

A: It's fortunate that I am a writer, because that has helped me understand the properties of words. They are what have made life complex. In the battle for status in the animal kingdom, power and aggressiveness have been all-important. But among humans, once they acquired speech, all that changed. I don't know of any political leader today with status on the level of say, Elvis Presley's and Albert Einstein's - two men who couldn't have led a soup kitchen line.

Q: Psychologist and LSD guru Timothy Leary, of all people, said that intelligence is the ultimate aphrodisiac now.

A: I don't know if it's the ultimate one, but a kind of power that has nothing to do with physical strength is way up there. I think Bill Clinton certainly demonstrated that.

Q: The determinists have posited that IQ is also set at birth. What do you think?

A: That subject is dynamite. If you speak privately to genetic theorists, they will all say intelligence is inherited, but they won't say it publicly, as it will only get them into trouble. Real neuroscientists are more circumspect and admit we just don't know enough to put out half-cocked theories of intelligence, gender and so on.

Q: As a renowned observer of intellectual fashion, where do you think neuroscience will take us?

A: There have been a series of revolutions in thought about human beings. Darwin didn't even have a university attachment when he developed his theories, but with the sheer power of his words, he changed the way most educated humans regard themselves and their lives. As Nietzsche observed, most regard themselves as smarter versions of other beasts. And then there was Marx, sitting alone in a library, apparently not a very pleasant man, whose premises, even when proven absolutely wrong, have implanted ideas that are still very hard to get rid of. And Freud has now been proven to be a complete quack with regard to how the brain works, but, for example, his notion of the need for sexual release no doubt accounts for millions of extra orgasms a day, even now.

It remains to be seen where the new literary theory of life, the genetic one, will lead us. Nietzsche predicted - in the 1880s - that in this century, the 21st, would come the total eclipse of all values, a development more painful than man can possibly imagine beforehand. As I wrote in 1996, genetic theory certainly tilts in that direction.

Q: In closing, what else are you working on?

A: A book on immigration issues, which may be either nonfiction or fiction. It's good stuff now - 10 years ago when I would tell people I was interested in this topic, they would say, "Oh, how interesting," and then fall asleep like a horse, standing up. There's a little more interest today, I gather!

* * *

TRUMP’S PARADE

Editor:

Almost every day I receive in the mail at least one, often two, requests for money from veterans’ organizations such as Wounded Warriors, Paralyzed Vets, Adopt a Platoon, Help Healing Vets (craft kits), Paws for Purple Hearts, the American Legion, Mutts on a Mission, Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, Blind Vets Association, Vietnam Vets, etc.

Now our draft dodger president wants to throw himself a military parade, costing the taxpayers an estimated $30 million, so that he can pose up there (will he wear a uniform?) like some sort of great figure, with grinning cohorts at his shoulder, as the might of our nation marches by. (Remind you of anything?) It’s disgusting.

With our veterans in such great need of medical care, prosthetics to replace lost body parts, mental health support and housing, not to mention the many needs today of our general population, this expenditure of resources is astoundingly misguided and truly appalling. I am furious.

Barbara Jason-White

Santa Rosa

* * *

I Am A Liberal. But I know Democrats in office are no better than Republicans.

Alice Dreger

theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/28/news-journalism-politics-democrats-republicans

* * *

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

Why are teenagers engaged in school shootings?

Anyone else out there noticing that lots of teens/young adults in the neighborhood are being diagnosed as bipolar? Anyone but me notice that an alarming number of girls with scars on their wrists? (I noticed this as a school parent/volunteer.) And what I consider to be self-abuse in the form of tongue studs, nickel-sized holes in the earlobes, hideous tattoos?

I’ll let you in on a little psychiatry secret — lots of these “bi-polar” kids are actually suffering from a Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). But because BPD is considered incurable and barely treatable, INSURANCE WILL NOT COVER IT. Bipolar illness treatments will be reimbursed.

BPD shows itself in the form of explosive anger, unstable relationships, self-harm and chronic feelings of emptiness. BPD is considered a “Cluster B Personality Group: dramatic, emotional, erratic. Some have mused that BPD (in its most malignant forms) include the Dark Triad of personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy.

How does one come into this state? Emotional neglect is one of the causes. Probably some kids feel neglected because their parents are torn between parenting and their career path. (“Lean-In” says that over-priviledged Facebook bitch Sheryl Sandberg.)

Maybe these kids had no one who cared? That would result in chronic feelings of emptiness.

One of my little mother mottoes is: no success can compensate for failure in the home.

* * *

THE DAMAGE CHOMOS DO.

Blake

Here's the text from the People v. Nicholas Eugene Blake child molestation case impact statement:

Dear Honorable Judge,

I've been trying to tell myself that today will finally be the day when it gets better, easier, I'll stop being the victim. But honestly, I don't know how. People make it seem so damn easy to start living a normal life, not realizing that every day I will be looking over my shoulder, constantly feeling like I am still the victim. There are so many things that trigger me to just break down and cry my eyes out.

Like the fact that almost everyday I still have to see his truck where I live, the fact that every time I see his mother I am reminded of how she doesn't believe me or even talk to me at all because I told everyone the truth, or how I get worried because I constantly feel like I can't trust anyone in my life. I even question myself on if I'll even be a good enough Mom to my daughter.

And I also lost a parent, that never gets any easier. Even though he did something that is unspeakable, I still can't help but think I won't have my father to walk me down the aisle at my wedding. Who is going to be there to watch my sister at her graduation? Who is going to be grandfather to Charlotte, or be there to give me fatherly advice? It will never be easy to not have that guidance in my life, but I will get through it like I did with everything else in my life.

Well, you almost had me fooled. Told me that I was nothing without you. But after everything you've done I can thank you for how strong I have become because you brought the flames and you put me through hell.

I had to learn how to fight for myself and we both know the truth I could tell. I'll just say this is "I wish you farewell." I'm proud of who I am. No more monsters. I can breathe again.

And now the best is yet to come 'cause I can make it on my own. And I don't need you because I've found a strength I've never known.

Sometimes I pray for you at night.

Someday, maybe you'll see the light.

Some say in life you're going to get what you give.

But some things only God can forgive.

I hope you're somewhere prayin'.

I hope your soul is changin'. 

I hope you find your peace

Fallin' on your knees, prayin'.

* * *

MEMORIALIZE THAT

by James Kunstler

War for the USA these days is a weird, inconclusive enterprise. Our objectives are poorly discerned, hardly even articulated anymore, just a pattern of going through the motions as destructively as possible with no end in sight. How many Americans can state what our mission in Afghanistan is after seventeen years of blundering around its bare mountains and valleys? What exactly has been the point of our exercises in Syria? To get rid of Bashar al-Assad, the wonks might say. Really? And replace him with what? With the ragtag ISIS maniacs we’ve been shoveling arms and money to?

What goes on in the Baghdad Green Zone these days with Operation Inherent Resolve still underway? How come four US Special Forces soldiers were killed in Niger in 2017? Do you know what they were doing there? How many Americans can even say where Niger is on a map? How much better is life in Somalia these days with American soldiers on-the-scene? What was the net effect of our effort to liberate Libya in 2011 (Operation Freedom Falcon)? What factions are US military advisors training in Ukraine? And what for? Defense Secretary James Mattis says, “We’re working with them on reform of their military.” Hmmm…. So they can be more like us?

Did you happen to notice Sunday that many Major League Baseball teams were sporting military-themed camo caps? What’s up with that? Are we planning to send Aroldis Chapman to throw 105mph fastballs at Hezbollah? In fact, camo has been a popular theme in civilian fashion for years so that everyone from truck drivers to millionaire rap stars can affect to be mighty warriors. Do you know that since 2009 the National Football League has been under contract with the US military to stage on-field patriotic tributes and warplane flyovers — and how much do these displays cost (taxpayer alert)?

I suppose that military prowess is all we’ve got left in the national pride bag in these times of foundering empire. Few are fooled these days by the “land of opportunity” trope when so many young people are lucky to get a part-time gig on the WalMart loading dock along with three nights a week of slinging Seaside Shrimp Trios for the local Red Lobster. Of course, there are a few choice perches in venture capital out in Silicon Valley, or concocting collateralized loan obligations in the aeries of Wall Street — but nobody is playing Aaron Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man to celebrate these endeavors.

There’s a macabre equivalency between our various overseas war operations and the school shootings that are now a routine feature of American daily life. The purposes are equally obscure and the damage is just as impressive — many lives ruined for no good reason. But consider more lives are lost every year in highway crashes than in the Mexican War of the 1840s and more Americans are dying each year lately of opioid overdoses than the entire death toll of the Vietnam War. America’s soul is at war with its vaunted way-of-life.

It’s hard to be an empire, for sure, but it’s even harder, apparently, to be a truly virtuous society. First, I suppose, you have to be not insane. It’s hard to think of one facet of American life that’s not insane now. Our politics are insane. Our ideologies are insane. The universities are insane. Medicine is insane. Show biz is insane. Sexual relations are insane. The arts are insane. The news media is utterly insane. And what passes for business enterprise in the USA these days is something beyond insane, like unto the swarms of serpents and bats issuing from some mouth of hell in the medieval triptychs. How do you memorialize all that?

(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)

* * *

HUMCO PWOG ERIC KIRK RECOMMENDS THESE VOTES:

kymkemp.com/2018/05/25/who-to-vote-for-on-june-5-a-progressives-opinion/

* * *

ALLEN FOR GOVERNOR

Editor,

People are to blame for shootings, not guns. People are sick, and they need to be fixed. It's bad parenting. Drugs. Political correctness. Out-of-control videos. Political correctness is ruining this country. When kids come home and parents don't have time for them they send them into watch violent videos. Then if they try to correct him, he calls 911 and gets the cops to come. The cops arrest the parents without them having a chance to say anything and so on and so on. There is your political correctness.

Liberals are responsible for MS-13, and the homeless problem. Guys like Gavin Newsom, who was the mayor of San Francisco, left it a filthy city. It's just ugly what the Liberals have done to this country. They have no respect for the flag, the anthem, the historical stuff, they are anti-American. They had 24 years to get bad stuff done and they are trying to block everything President Trump does, disrespecting the Constitution, getting rid of the first and second amendments.

The teachers union is the most liberal institution in the United States. They teach our children anti-Americanism, they produce bad grades for our students, they get too much money per student, and they try to force them to accept Allah.

Do I hate liberals? Yes I do! They stand for everything bad. They hate America. They love open borders. They love dope. They are anti-law enforcement. They disrespect the flag. They are responsible for everything wrong.

Gavin Newsom will give you a worse administration than California has now. He started homelessness and turned San Francisco into a [bleep]hole. It is the dirtiest city in the world. Now homelessness has become a national tragedy. Liberals like to accept money from slimeballs like George Soros, Michael Moore, a piece of blupper with a face, and all the cuckoos in Hollywood. Do I hate liberals? Yes I do! Do you blame me?

Vote for Charles Allen for governor of California, you can't go wrong with him. He will turn this state back into a good state like it should be — accept for the people who are running it.

God bless Donald Trump.

Jerry Philbrick

Comptche

* * *

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

[1] I think Americans are the loneliest people on the planet. Life has become unreal and as a consequence not worth living. American fascism atomizes people through its architecture, city planning, schooling system, corporate infrastructure, social interactions, etc. The result is wide spread depression and the use of “medication” for such. Some communities in the US because of the strong family and communal traditions they brought with them to America have been able to somewhat resist this fascist predation. But they are islands in a raging fascist ocean and they will eventually be washed away. I see this already happened with the Jewish community in the US. Fascism is a dead end, I don’t care how big a smile corporate America and its propaganda organs put on it.

(2) My former high school here in suburban Los Angeles (which I attended in the late 1970s) underwent partial reconstruction this past year. Three one-story buildings which contained hallways and which were separated by pleasant gardens and sitting areas were razed and replaced with three 2-story brick structures that resemble CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). The stairwells which face the front of the campus are enclosed in tall, silver metal cages. Everything is crammed together. The front of the school looks like a factory. The students walk around like robot-children, wearing the same backpacks and staring at their cell phones once they hit the street. Tick tick tick. Will it be an Asian teen who snaps, or will it be a white kid? Not that that really matters. The student population is now 80% Chinese 2nd generation, so the odds are it will be an Asian teenager. The atmosphere seems totally gross (1979 lingo).

* * *

SUPPORT FIRE RECOVERY

From: Landcestry, Publisher of The Sweet Life: Stories from Butler Ranch

What: Book Profits for Fire Recovery

Where: Mendocino County locations

Information: 707 272-8305

Just in time for cherry season, the publisher of The Sweet Life: Stories from Butler Ranch has announced that one half of book sale profits is designated for Redwood Valley Fire recovery. Proceeds will go to the Arts Council of Mendocino County to support artist survivor needs as well as the “Art from the Ashes” healing mosaic project happening this summer and fall, organized by Elizabeth Raybee and Nori Dolan.

“The stories in The Sweet Life are really all about community,” says publisher Dot Brovarney. “The book’s storytellers convey the communal spirit and joy that the Butlers created through their annual cherry harvest. This mosaic project, too, offers an opportunity for sharing in a community healing experience.”

The book, which sells for $18.49 plus tax, is available at various places including Gallery Bookshop and Braggadoon on the Coast, Farmhouse Mercantile in Boonville, Mendocino Book Company, Grace Hudson Museum, Mendocino Optical, Bona Marketplace, and Westside Renaissance Market in Ukiah. It also will be available on June 16 at the Grace Hudson Museum following a 2 p.m. talk by Brovarney about Ukiah’s wildflower aficionado, Carl Purdy. For more information, call 707-272-8305.

(Dot Brovarny)

* * *

START YOUR OWN SUCCESSFUL CONSTRUCTION BUSINESS!

Find work you love and help our community re-build their homes. Mendocino College invites those interested in the building trades to attend a free workshop on June 16 to learn how to start a successful contracting business. With a shortage of home builders and specialty tradespeople in Lake and Mendocino Counties, the Sustainable Construction and Energy Technology Program at Mendocino College aims to bridge the gap. The seminar titled, “Start your own Construction Business!” takes place Saturday, June 16 from 9-2 at Mendocino College Room 4210, in the library on the Ukiah Campus.

The recent loss of more than 400 homes in Mendocino County and more than 6,000 homes in neighboring Sonoma and Lake Counties as a result of last fall’s wildfires has created a huge demand for technical building assistance. This compounds the housing shortage that existed before the Redwood Complex Fires. Couple this with the fact that some of the most respected builders in our region are nearing retirement, and it is easy to understand the difficulty fire survivors are facing in rebuilding their homes. “While the charred remains of homes have been successfully removed to make way for rebuilding, for fire survivors there’s still the matter of finding the building contractor to help to accomplish the task,” said seminar coordinator Mary Anne Landis.

The workshop will present content on contracting basics, strategies for success, and business skills that will help people starting their own construction business avoid pitfalls. The morning panel of experienced, successful contractors will cover questions such as: What are key ingredients to being successful? How do you secure new clients? Should you expand? How do you buffer yourself from a downturn? How do you maintain crew morale? After the panel discussion, a representative from the State Contractors Licensing Board will be available to describe what participants can and cannot do as a builder without a license, what it takes to get a license, what kind of contracts a contractor can engage, as well as answering general questions.

Participants need to bring a brown bag lunch. After lunch, a panel of experts from The West Company will present the steps required to start a business in Mendocino County, a brief overview of best business practices, and how to stay organized as a self-employed contractor.

This free seminar sponsored by the Sustainable Building Department of Mendocino College will be offered on Saturday, June 16, Room 4210, Library Building. Bring a lunch and join us!

* * *

ALL OF THE CONDITIONS that were present in 1929 are once again in place today. Although we can’t project a precise trigger date for the bubble to burst, it most certainly will - as do all bubbles. But, what we can do is anticipate that, historically, the crash and its subsequent damage are invariably equal to the level of indebtedness. As the present level so far exceeds what existed in 1929, we can presume that the crash itself will be far more devastating, as will the subsequent damage.

— Jeff Thomas

zerohedge.com/news/2018-05-28/depression-playbook

* * *

SILENT MUSICAL

This Friday! Tickets available at brownpapertickers.com and at the door.

* * *

NELLIE IN RETIREMENT

Former Warriors' coach Don Nelson is retired on Maui:

(Click to enlarge)

...“Have some weed if you want,” Nelson offers his guests. “Help yourself. It’s on the (poker) table.” The Nellie of old was a beer-and-wine guy. I’ve heard tales of him knocking back a six-pack on the bus from the arena to the airport.

“I don’t drink much anymore,” Nelson says. “I’m more into weed now.” He started smoking weed a few years ago and now grows his own, a strain of sativa called Nellie Kush, which he says is more of an upper than a downer.

Nelson played 14 NBA seasons and has aches and pains from ancient battles. “When you get old, you start to feel every nick. (The weed) helps a lot with the pain.”

...This is the home of famed and frequent all-night poker games with island neighbors Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson. Willie Nelson is on tour now, but any time he’s in town, it’s game on.

Don Nelson? He’s always in town. He and Joy used to split their time between here and Texas, but “I never leave the island now,” Nelson says...

(Rob Anderson, District5Diary)

 

22 Comments

  1. Vicky Miller May 29, 2018

    GO Jerry Philbrick!!

  2. james marmon May 29, 2018

    EXTENDED DAILY MENTAL HEALTH CHECK-IN.

    According to data, as Community Mental Health Services in the county declined (The Angelo slice and dice), Mental-cino went from 104 Emergency Room 5150s in 2011 to 415 Emergency Room 5150s in 2015.

    https://kipdf.com/in-this-issue-board-of-directors-local-news-local-news-state-news-shortage-of-ps_5b007da48ead0e572c8b45b3.html

    For fiscal year 16-17 the RQMC reports that they conducted 1,695 Emergency Crisis Assessments and had 610 Inpatient Psychiatric hospitalizations, all requiring medical clearances at local Emergency Rooms.

    So, the good sheriff and ER doctors believe we need a locked facility to deal with the increase, but seem blind to what the real problem is, lack of Community Mental Health Services.

    “Community mental health services (CMHS), also known as community mental health teams (CMHT) in the United Kingdom, support or treat people with mental disorders (mental illness or mental health difficulties) in a domiciliary setting, instead of a psychiatric hospital (asylum). The array of community mental health services vary depending on the country in which the services are provided. It refers to a system of care in which the patient’s community, not a specific facility such as a hospital, is the primary provider of care for people with a mental illness. The goal of community mental health services often includes much more than simply providing outpatient psychiatric treatment.

    Community services include supported housing with full or partial supervision (including halfway houses), psychiatric wards of general hospitals (including partial hospitalization), local primary care medical services, day centers or clubhouses, community mental health centers, and self-help groups for mental health.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_mental_health_service

    So instead of dealing with the problem that has led to where we are today, Camille Schraeder wants to go into the Psychiatric Hospital business now, she always follows the money.

    James Marmmon MSW

    • BB Grace May 29, 2018

      The Stepping Up Inniative https://stepuptogether.org/ was formed under three government support organizations.

      The Council of Governments Justice Center
      https://csgjusticecenter.org/

      The American Psychiatric Association https://apafdn.org/

      The National Association of Counties
      http://www.naco.org/

      Mendocino County signed up in 2015 to step up http://www.co.mendocino.ca.us/bos/cgi-bin/meetings/21020/21061/21070/21278/21346/21383/121383.pdf taking $150K and spending it on Sheriff Allman for training. I have NO doubts Sheriff Allman would arrest the Schraeders so fast their heads would spin if there was any way, shape or form the Schraeders didn’t earn every cent from the Mendocino County Contract that doesn’t pay as well as Orange County which has an ASO http://orange.networkofcare.org/mh/services/agency.aspx?pid=AdministrativeServicesOrganizationASOAdultMentalHealthServicesAMHSOutpatientServicesOutpatientRecoveryServices_348_2_0 . You have to love people and be very dedicated to do the job the Schraeders do with love, respect and complete accountability. I have no questions whatsoever concerning the slanderous bile, “Where’s the money Camille?” Which is it Mr. Marmon lacks, heart, guts or brains to ask, “Where’s the money Sheriff Tom Allman, D. A. C. David Eyster, CEO Carmen Angelo???”

      Because Mendocino County does not have a psychiatrist there is no one to represent Mendocino County to the Americans Psychiatric Association and qualify for grants.

      Because Carmen Angelo has other interests, there is no one representing Mendocino County at the National Association of Counties and applying for grants.

      Because not one attorney or judge, as they are the KEY to success in the Stepping Up Inniative, doesn’t bother to go to meetings at the Council of Governments Justice Center to implement laws that WORK FOR THE PEOPLE, Mendocino County is not stepping up but seeing how many straws, including the constant harassment by Mr. Marmon via the AVA, it can place on the Schraeder’s backs in hopes they will break RCMG as the only thing preventing a complete breakdown in Mental Health services is RQMC. The Schraeders have not gotten involved with Mendocino County politics. They were not writing letters, taking out ads and including their names on the list of cronies in the Fifth District calling Fort Bragg residents NIMBYs and stigmatized when the people protested the Old Coast Hotel being turned into a mental health support facility.

      Unlike Mr. Marmon, I do not have a MSW title to apply any credit to my research into “What’s wrong with Mendocino Mental Health (Since Aaron Bassler it’s been a very public disaster).

      Mendocino County Department of Justice needs to STEP UP. Because ultimately it’s they who are not stepping up to bring home some of the $29 Billion dollars they are instead, taxing property owners and holding the county hostage to build themselves a bigger court house and jail for the mentally ill, exactly the opposite of Stepping Up Inniative.

      • james marmon May 29, 2018

        Ms Grace, the ASO model used by Orange and other counties is for Medi=Cal billing only. Pay attention to Jennine Miller who said Mendo has “a unique model; we are very unique compared to any other County in California.”

        The Schraeders are in it for the money, don’t kid yourself.

        • james marmon May 29, 2018

          RQMC is for-profit organization, did you not know that?

          • BB Grace May 30, 2018

            Yes Mr. Marmon, I know that for profit RQMC pays federal, state, county, property, income and many more taxes unlike the non for profit, nonprofit, or charity organizations that serve the same clients. I also know that when bad things happen the victim has a much easier time suing a for profit corporation, which is to Mendocino County’s benefit as Mendocino County has a way of attracting insane law suits. Contracting with for profit RQMC is a safety net for Mendocino County. The Kemper Report found RQMC to be “effective”, and Mendocino County guilty of 6 “deficiencies” concerning their contract with RQMC http://www.co.mendocino.ca.us/bos/cgi-bin/meetings/27953/27961/27962/28123/28204/KemperExecutiveSummary28204.pdf

            If the Schraeders are in it for the money they get my vote for the most stupid capitalists of the world trophy. I believe the Schraeders selected their IRS status based on how to be best effective for the people/government of Mendocino County.

            re: Orange County ASO being non-profit for MediCal, because Orange County has for profit services available for those who are not on MediCal. Since Mendocino County has no for profit options available for non MediCal residents to my knowledge, I see RQMC IRS for profit business is to enable all residents, not just MediCal qualified, of Mendocino County the ability to get help if they need it.

            Here’s an example of for profit mental health option in Orange County https://www.amenclinics.com/locations/orange-county/

            The Kemper Report made it clear, RQMC and Ortner were not the problem. Kemper suggested Mendocino County hold onto Ortner until Mendocino County had it’s jail in place and operating, or got it’s act together filling the positions for administration and staff, which Mendocino County, BOS and CEO fail each other, and I believe this is because it’s so easy to agree to let the Sheriff do it.

            I credit the Sheriff for having an option, but my disappointment with the BOS and CEO for not working to present residents with other options available, such as Stepping Up Inniative. It would have been much better the CEO to have claimed the $150K and spent it on sending BHA/MC staff to Council of Government seminars for grants and networking, or given the $150K to the D.A. and send judges and attorneys to the Justice Center for grants, or hire a psychiatrist per the Kemper Report and send him to the American Psychiatric Association seminars for grants instead of giving it to the Sheriff to spend on his staff. And when the Sheriff had his staff come to the BHAB meeting for accountability, they were not interested as knowing, “they got training, that’s good” was good enough. Yes, the training is good, but the fact is for Mendocino County there were better ways to INVEST the $150K which seems, like many issues in Mendocino County, where charming each other at meetings is more important than accountability.

      • james marmon May 29, 2018

        Today Ms. BB Grace tried to make sense of something that she absolutely knows nothing about, actually comparing Mental-cino’s privatized ASO to that of Orange County’s ASO model. In contrast, the two are completely different models, here’s Orange’s model.

        About Orange County’s Administrative Service Organization (ASO).

        Serving: Orange County Medi-Cal Beneficiaries; children, adolescents, and adults

        Facility: County Contractor, Orange County Health

        Authority- CalOptima

        Region: Countywide

        http://www.ochealthinfo.com/bhs/aso

        CalOptima

        A County-organized health system, CalOptima serves more than 770,000 OC residents. CalOptima was formed in 1995, and today has grown to be the second largest health insurer in Orange County. By County ordinance, the OC Board of Supervisors (County of Orange) appoints CalOptima Board members who govern day-to-day operations.

        http://www.ochealthinfo.com/about/admin/caloptima

        Oh, by the way, CalOPTIMA is a nonprofit health management organization for Medi-Cal recipients. RQMC is a for profit organization. Apples and oranges Ms. Grace, apples and oranges.

        James Marmon MSW

  3. Arthur Juhl May 29, 2018

    In regards to Measure B,I think the county should set up satellite units in each major community. Maybe a larger facility in Ukiah. So when a 5150 is called upon the client does not have to be shipped say from Gualala to Ukiah. And the smaller satellite could be managed financially.
    I made a study of a small type of mental hospital and found that our county could never afford it’s operation. As it has problems keeping the county itself from going into the red!
    Kemper should give the BOS that suggestion as I am sure he is aware of what a large facilitie would cost to operate and especially to staff.
    Here in Gualala we could link up with RCMS to create such a facility. And I am sure Point Arena, Mendocino and Boonville could come up with something. This would assure that we on the coast are included, not excluded in what happens in Ukiah.
    Arthur E. Juhl candidate for the 5th district Supervisor

    • Lazarus May 29, 2018

      After viewing the latest Measure B YouTube, and reading Mr.Scaramella’s commentary this morning I am of the opinion something is seriously flawed within this committee. The three sentence needs assessment will surely give the BOS pause, but to the point…are any of these district people really qualified to be on this board?
      The county placements at least have a running knowledge of how the county Mental illness system works, but these others such as Diamond, and the Adventist Health MD seem lost for any comprehension of what they are actually task to do. The one size fits all model is unacceptable to almost everyone yet they still are hawking an unrealistic plan…
      Perhaps when the old hospital came under severe scrutiny they realized the fix might not be in and they would really have to find acceptable alternatives to giving all the money to the Howard Foundation. And like Scaramella said, we’re not even talking about what the City of Willits has planned…stay tuned.
      As always,
      Laz

  4. Craig Stehr May 29, 2018

    Awoke in my Hostelling International bed in New York City, the mind saying the Catholic “Hail Mary” prayer, which continued all the way through the bathroom ablutions. Enjoyed a breakfast at the hostel food service area, and then went downstairs with my brand new Microsoft Surface laptop…plus the $100 Microsoft pen which I’ve no idea yet what to do with…and the Bluetooth wireless mouse…and it’s all warrantied for two years costing an additional $149. Am booked in here until June 10th, the day after the huge Ratha Yatra festival goes down 5th Avenue to Washington Square Park. Every Hare Krishna in the region will be here, chanting to neutralize the negative energy! Beyond June 10th, I have no idea whatsoever where I am going to go nor what I am going to do. Have a satisfying day, y’all. Go fishing.

  5. Bill Pilgrim May 29, 2018

    Do I have this reading right?

    Dr. Preston died at home… a home that was also a bordello…and was being used for a Hollywood film…with one of its biggest stars.

    Man, some people check out with style! (and probably a smile!)

  6. Jim Updegraff May 29, 2018

    Received a renewal visa card in the mail. Renewed to a new expiration date of 7/23 – 5 years! – at age 88 it is a nice goal but I doubt if I will be around for 5 more years

  7. Jim Updegraff May 29, 2018

    Philbrick – God bless Trump – does God bless sinners?

  8. George Dorner May 29, 2018

    One facet of homelessness that hasn’t been mentioned is that our neighbors living on the streets fall into two classes–the involuntarily homeless, and the voluntarily homeless.

    Efforts to help these neighbors seem keyed to the concept of involuntary homelessness, and indeed the unhoused in this population deserve our compassion. However, when services are offered to the voluntarily homeless, they treat the situation as an opportunity to scam the system. I think it’s time we develop a strategy for dealing with the latter group that is different from the services we offer the unfortunate.

    • Mark Scaramella May 29, 2018

      Anyone who wants to comment on homelessness, helping agencies, mental health, etc. should first be required to read Theresa Funicello’s 1994 book “Tyranny of Kindness” — keeping in mind that the Clintons made it much worse for anyone on welfare two years later when they “ended welfare as we know it.” None of this is new.

  9. George Hollister May 29, 2018

    What a person imagines Is not reality, but the basis of a hypothesis that, from a scientific standpoint, needs to be tested. A “good” imagination is not necessarily an active imagination, but is associated with what is successfully verified with scientific experimentation. Much of the public perception of forestry is based on people’s flawed but active imaginations. These perceptions are the basis for folklore, and not science.

    One of latest bits of folklore is that tan oak snags, in themselves, pose a significant increase in fire risk. There is no scientific basis for that. None. The purported increased fire risk exists purely in people’s imaginations. Doing experiments with fire to test what is being imagined is difficult, so an experiment won’t happen in this case, either. But let’s look at the history of killing and leaving dead standing tan oaks in Mendocino County. We have been doing this for the last 50 years. All the major timber growers have done it, and are doing it now. During that 50 years, fires have burned through these areas with dead standing tan oaks. Has there been a singe report, over the last 50 years, that a fire increased in intensity after entering an area with dead standing tan oaks that were deliberately killed? No. Anecdotal reports indicate the opposite. There is also the folklore that glyphosate and Imazapyr use in forestry contaminates the ground water, and does a bunch of other bad things, threatening human health. There is no scientific basis for that, either. But this is par for the course with the public folklore in forestry.

    Here is a truncated list of other popular public folklore of forestry: Logging caused the demise of coho salmon, and spotted owl populations. Logging forces bears out of the woods. Logging caused the sediment we see in our rivers, sediment is a bad thing, and needs to be prevented from getting in our streams. Logging slash in a redwood forest needs to be “cleaned up”, and slash piles pose a significant fire threat.

    Speaking for myself, if I practiced forestry based on popular pubic folklore, I would be about as successful at it as any other business that did the same, including a newspaper business. So how does a majority of voters in Mendocino County supporting Measure V make me respond, with all my dead standing hardwoods? It poses a situation that is not new, and I have never rolled over to BS in similar situations in the past. Nobody should, either. But I do forgive people, because I am prone to having an active, but flawed, imagination on occasion myself. It is always in a case where I know less about something than I think I do.

    Is Measure V a violation of the State’s Right to Farm Act? It certainly is, regardless of the autopilot babble from the AVA editorial board.

    • Randy Burke May 29, 2018

      Guess it is a fallacy to believe that wood burns and sediment from skid trail grading contributes to sediment impairment of waterways. With that said, maybe I got my sunburn from the moon.

      • George Hollister May 29, 2018

        There is much imagined, much said, and none verified. Get out and look the next time it’s pouring rain. And the next time you want to start a fire, put tan oak firewood in the wood heater and try to light it. Didn’t work? You forgot the paper and kindling.

        • Harvey Reading October 29, 2018

          Peddlin’ more whoppers, are ya, George? Nobody buys them any more. You’ve told too many.

  10. Lizbeth October 29, 2018

    You people post false information about lizbeth zenad. The vehicle was not stolen. I am the register owner please remove my photo.

    • Mark Scaramella October 29, 2018

      Your complaint is with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department, not us.

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