Around Mendo Island

TODD WALTON: Sweet Libby’s


queen for a day toddq

Queen For A Day painting by Nolan Winkler

Under The Table

“Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.” Romeo and Juliet

There are days when things juxtapose so exquisitely, one can’t help feeling some sort of transcendent author is writing out the simultaneous arrival of related elements composing a harmonious whole greater than the sum of the parts.

To wit: on the very day Marcia read to me from the Anderson Valley Advertiser that Libby’s restaurant in Philo is closing, we received in the mail our Netflix copy of the Japanese movie Sweet Bean. Libby’s beans—if you have never dined at that incomparable Mexican restaurant—are not sweet, but the experience of eating Libby’s beans comingled on a fork with her delectable rice is a divine culinary experience—sweet in the sense of magnificent.

The 2015 movie Sweet Bean is based on the novel An by Durian Sukegawa, adapted to the screen and directed by Naomi Kawase. An translates as “sweet red bean paste” and is the filling for a favorite Japanese confection know as dorayaki, consisting of sweet red Azuki bean paste sandwiched between two small round sponge-cake patties. The quality of the dorayaki depends entirely on the quality of that red bean paste, and thereby hangs the cinematic parable Sweet Bean.

Ukiah Bakery Selling Mendocino-Grown Bread


Zach Schat, seen Thursday with freshly baked loaves of Sonora Wheat bread, is using locally produced flour to bake one of the sourdough varieties he sells in his downtown Ukiah bakery.
Zach Schat, seen Thursday with freshly baked loaves of Sonora Wheat bread, is using locally produced flour to bake one of the sourdough varieties he sells in his downtown Ukiah bakery. Chris Pugh-Ukiah Daily Journal

The Sonora Wheat loaves need to be baked longer, so they have a thick crust, and the long fermenting process gives them an “incredible shelf life,” Schat said.The Sonora Wheat loaves need to be baked longer, so they have a thick crust, and the long fermenting process gives them an “incredible shelf life,” Schat said. Chris Pugh-Ukiah Daily Journal

The main challenge in baking with the Sonora Wheat, he said, is it has a lot less gluten than most of the wheat strains used for breads. And, as most people know by now, gluten is pretty much what makes bread worth eating.

So instead of the one-day process for a typical sourdough, Schat has designed a three-day one for the Sonora Wheat.

“About 2 a.m. Tuesday we start the pre-ferment process, then we mix the dough on Wednesday, and on Thursday we put it in the oven,” he said, explaining that it took many weeks of trial and error to make a consistently good loaf that he thought people would want to eat.

And like many people in a frustrating relationship, Schat turned to family members and other trusted advisers for help.

Doug Mosel — Mendocino’s Bread Grower



From Our Companion Blog Mendocino Talking

(Since landing in Mendocino County, Doug Mosel has involved himself in several worthwhile community projects: running the successful Measure H campaign against GMOs; co-founding the Agriculture & Ecology Hour on KZYX; and most recently creating the Mendocino Grain Project where he farms, mills and distributes locally-grown grains and flour to CSA members of the project and local stores. —DS)

For all my life I’ve introduced myself as a Nebraska farm boy. It’s deeply ingrained in me (no pun intended)… the core of my being. Although I left the farm to go into the big world and leave that all behind, I think I’ve now come full circle here on the west coast.

After high school, I had wanted to be an aeronautical engineer and had applied for a scholarship to Purdue University, but changed my mind and moved to Washington D.C. where my brother lived. While there I was accepted at VPI, Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg. At the time it was a military school, all strait-laced, spit polished and regimented and I could only stand it for two weeks. So I went back and enrolled at the University of Nebraska… which lasted 3 semesters of figuring out that Physics and engineering didn’t work well for me either.

So back to D.C. where I took a job with the Association of American Railroads starting in the basement. At the time, the railroads were still a very romantic part of this culture. We had really nice linen covered table dining cars. AAR was the legislative and public voice of the railroads. Reams of information, comic books, PR brochures, etc. being shipped out was my job. In a year or so they invited me upstairs to distribute the mail, then after a few months I was invited to become a clerk in the law department before ending up as the Administrative Assistant to the Executive Vice President.

WILL PARRISH: Mendo Support Caravan Heads to Oil Pipeline Stand-Off


 1Growing pile of donated supplies at the Ukiah Courthouse rally (photo by Haji Warf).


While Sierra Rose Alexander was growing up on the Northern Cheyenne reservation in southeastern Montana, several influential members of the tribe were keen on leasing reservation land to Arch Coal Corporation.  This corporate leviathan was seeking to develop one of the USA’s largest coal strip mines, link it by rail to a Washington State terminal, and thence ship the dark and combustible substance to burgeoning Asian energy markets, in addition to domestic ones.

An area of rolling prairies and statuesque buttes called Otter Creek would have been sacrificed.  Arch Coal and other companies were in the midst of a broader push to expand mining in the Powder River Basin along the Montana-Wyoming border, the nation’s largest coal-producing region.

But Alexander’s grandfather had helped lead the opposition to a similar proposal in the 1970s. She and her immediate family members are among many Cheyenne traditionalists who continue to oppose any coal mining.

“My grandpa’ told my mom, ‘Never go for coal. Never tear up the land,’” recalls Alexander, who is 24 years old.  “I grew up with my mom telling me how important the land is, that the land is all we have.”

This past March, Sierra and other Northern Cheyenne traditionalists could breathe easier when Arch Coal suspended its application for the mine, citing a weak market and “an uncertain permitting environment.”  Nearby ranchers and conservation groups had also resisted the mine proposal.

Currently a goat herder and vegetable farmer at Green Uprising Farm in Willits, Sierra is now spearheading a combined Mendocino County/Bay Area support caravan to Standing Rock Sioux territory in North Dakota, where indigenous people, local ranchers, and environmentalists are standing off against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline: a $3.7 billion, 1,168-mile-long mega-project that would carry up to 570,000 barrels a day of Bakken Shale oil to Illinois (via South Dakota and Iowa). From there, it would link with another pipeline for transport to terminals and refineries along the Gulf of Mexico, perhaps also connecting to rail lines to the East Coast.

TODD WALTON: Actual Abstract



Shall We Dance? painting by Todd

Under The Table

“The sending of a letter constitutes a magical grasp upon the future.” Iris Murdoch

An announcement came in the mail, and by mail I mean those actual paper things we find in our mailboxes. The announcement was from an old friend, Dan Nadaner, who is having a show of his paintings at an art gallery in Los Angeles, the LA Artcore Brewery Annex. Happily, I am still on Dan’s mailing list.

I’ve known Dan since we were in junior high school together at La Entrada in Menlo Park fifty-five years ago and at Woodside High thereafter. And though we have had little contact for many years, I consider him a present-tense friend. I was thrilled to get this actual announcement from him in the actual mail so I could hold it in my hands and carry it outside and sit in the garden and look at the little picture of his painting, turning it this way and that while thinking of Dan and remembering some of our shared experiences.

Thinking about Dan reminded me of my friend Mark Russell who lives in Nova Scotia. He and I became friends at La Entrada at the same time I got to know Dan, and because I am still in touch with Mark, I thought he might like to see the announcement of Dan’s show in Los Angeles. He would remember Dan and enjoy knowing our old friend grew up to be a successful artist.

For a moment I thought about asking Marcia to take a photograph of the announcement to send via email to Mark, but then I considered the richness of my experience of thinking about Dan with the actual announcement in my hand, so I decided to send the actual announcement in an envelope to Mark in Canada.

Phil Baldwin: No On Trump, No On Hillary…



From Phil Baldwin

Not a Trump supporter, I vote no on Hillary. Yes, Trump seems menacing. But we hear roughly the same every four years, only this campaign hearkens back 52 years to the anti-Goldwater fear mongering. It worked brilliantly then and just five months after LBJ’s victory we got war in Vietnam. With the likely HRC win in November expect the same – another war.

Hillary has championed one disastrous war after another and this explains why the War Party now endorses her. Our War Party includes all major think tanks, each funded by arms industry giants: Boeing, Northrup-Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Lockheed-Martin, and McDonald-Douglas. The New Yorker, NYT, WSJ, WaPo, CNN, Daily Beast, MSNBC comprise its propaganda arm.

Foreign policy “experts,” whether liberal interventionists or Republican neocons, now flocking to Hillary, have one thing in common. They promoted U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and, like Hillary, got each of them wrong.

WILL PARRISH: Mendo Protests The Fisher Family




On August 18th, about 30 Mendocino County residents came by van and bus to San Francisco to rally outside the office tower headquarters of Sansome Partners, the investment firm that controls Mendocino Redwood Company. Sansome Partners is itself controlled by the Fisher family, the multi-billionaire investor clan best known as founders of The Gap.

The Mendo denizens, who mainly hail from Albion and Ukiah and Comptche, were calling on MRC to stop poisoning unmerchantable hardwood trees in the 227,000 acres they own in western Mendocino County and northwestern Sonoma County.

A banner reading “Let The Forests Heal” reflected one of the most common sentiments. Others read “Stop the Cut — Save the Climate” and “Shame! Shame! MRC 90,000 Acres of Standing Dead Trees.”

After members of the crowd offered some loud words to the Fisher family through a bullhorn, they heard songs specific to the occasion from the Ragin’ Grannies, and some brief remarks by yours truly (filling the role of literateur of the Fisher Family’s business ventures) and Albion-Little River Volunteer Fire Chief Ted Williams, who said his intention in being there was to ask for a meeting with the Fishers.

A security guard claimed John Fisher, the main shepherd of the family’s timber investment, was not present in the building and instead offered to help set up a meeting at a later date.

The Mendo contingent then caravaned across several blocks to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, of which Robert Fisher (John’s brother) is president. The protesters set out a collection of protest artwork on the sidewalk, such as a canvas drawing stating “There is a GAP In the Forest,” which features a masked figure reminiscent of the character Ghostface in Scream wielding a hatchet, accompanied by the label “Fisher Greed,” against a dark depiction of the woods.

TODD WALTON: Strangely Early


All that you ask of me tw

All That You Ask Of Me painting by Nolan Winkler

Under The Table

“The mystery story is two stories in one: the story of what happened and the story of what appeared to happen.”  Mary Roberts Rinehart

One of the great pleasures of living in this rural area is that many of my neighbors and friends are avid observers of the natural world. And so in early August when I began sharing my observations that maple trees and fruit trees and blackberry bushes here on the coast in Mendocino were behaving as if it was late September, many folks concurred with similar observations about the local foliage and fruit.

In reading about climate change, I have come upon a number of reports by credible scientists suggesting that those physical indications of what we used to associate with fall—leaves changing colors, fruit ripening, colder nights—will henceforth become much less predictable in terms of when they manifest. Thus fall may come in summer, spring may come in winter, summer in spring, and…will we have a winter this year in California?

That’s an interesting question. We just had our first relatively wet winter in the last five years courtesy of a huge El Niño. The long-running drought in California and throughout the Southwest was barely dented by the glorious but not excessive precipitation. Here in Mendocino, where our aquifers are not directly dependent on Sierra snow, our water supply was much improved.

Now, however, the National Weather Service is reporting a formidable La Niña taking hold in the Pacific. Given this dramatic cooling of the ocean waters, what do the precipitation maps recently released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association say will be coming California’s way in the months of October, November, December, January, February, March, and April?

Mendocino County Supes: Please Vote for “Community Choice Energy!”


From Michael Laybourn

“Community Choice Energy” gives customers a choice in their energy provider. With Community Choice Energy, cities and counties contract with a licensed energy service provider to purchase energy in bulk, build renewable energy generating facilities, and implement energy efficiency programs. This efficient public/private partnership makes it possible to get the greenest energy at the best rates. This is how we should be able to purchase energy.

But PG&E doesn’t like competition. We saw that when they spent 45 million dollars to change the California constitution to eliminate the competition to stop Marin County and other Community Choice Energy projects.

I followed the Marin Supervisors when they pushed their Marin Clean Energy concept through. Thanks to some very bright people, Marin County can now purchase greener energy at lower rates and 100% solar is available.

Sonoma County saw the success of Marin Clean Energy and created their own Community Choice Energy and yes, it works too.

After seeing these non profit companies make this work, this should be a no brainer: Greener and cheaper and the money stays somewhat local.

Shawn Marshall, who spoke to many in Mendocino County recently, was a main force for Marin Clean Energy. As she has said; “The accomplishments of cheaper cleaner energy proves MCE is a sound business model.” She is correct. I watched it happen. Sonoma County now has Sonoma Clean Energy also and It works.

Sonoma County has offered to let Mendocino County energy users a chance to buy into this setup. Sonoma County’s power has a higher renewable content than PG&E’s. CleanStart is 80% carbon free — 37% from sources considered renewable under California’s regulations, like wind, biomass and geothermal, and 41% from large hydropower facilities.

I don’t think Mendocino County has the money to create its own public power agency. So let’s go with Sonoma County.

Mendocino County Supervisors: Please vote to give us a choice. It’s a good deal.

WILL PARRISH: Timber Regulating Timber


Sacramento Lobbyists: Marc Aprea, Chris Micheli, Michael DaftSacramento lobbyists: Marc Aprea, Chris Micheli, Michael Daft


The Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc. (RFFI) seemed to have a sure-fire plan when it proposed to receive $19.5 million for its conservation of the 50,000-acre Usal Redwood Forest – northwestern Mendocino County land battered by more than a century of logging – from the State Wildlife Conservation Board.  The state agency had received funding via a bond initiative, Proposition 84 (2006), for the purpose of conserving working forests.   RFFI owned the largest section of working conservation forest land in the state (meaning light-touching logging would continue to occur there).

More than 300 individuals had written in support of the proposal, and State Assemblyman Wes Chesbro and State Senator Noreen Evans had testified in favor of the RFFI proposal.  The Wildlife Conservation Board’s staff unanimously supported it.  The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors passed a supportive resolution and transmitted a letter to the Conservation Board’s director.

“The viability of sustainable timber management in Mendocino County relies on the Usal and Gualala models for job generation, restoration employment and future economic localization,” the May 2011 letter stated.

For several months, however, the Conservation Board withheld its approval, and for a single reason: Mendocino Redwood Company opposed the funding.  A February 22, 2011 letter from MRC  Chairman Sandy Dean – a long-time friend of the company’s billionaire owners, the Fisher Family – expressed opposition to the restoration funding allocation on the grounds that it would establish artificially high land values for future land transactions in the region.  He also challenged the principle of a government entity paying a private landowner for a conservation easement.

Bernie’s Coming To Cloverdale Today, Friday, June 3rd, 2016…



Cloverdale Airport 7:30 pm…



Spoiled Food in Pretty Bottles…


From The Anderson Valley Advertiser

Beer, like wine, is spoiled food that contains alcohol (evidence of spoilage) that’s immensely more toxic, in quantities actually consumed, than every selective plant killing poison and every pesticide on the market. It’s infinitely more toxic than smoking weed: zero overdose fatalities for weed, ever, unless you count a loading pallet of weed falling on a dockworker’s head.

“Excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year in the United States, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years,” says the CDC. And that’s not even counting vehicle-and-domestic-violence-related deaths. Nor gun deaths. Nor /hold my beer and watch this/ deaths.

Also beer smells and tastes terrible. And its production makes a square mile (or more) of whatever city the brewery is in smell like a giant sink full of sodden, rancid breakfast cereal, which is exactly what a brewery is. —
Marco McClean


Boycott Walmart! Bring Costco to Ukiah NOW!…




Get it right! Bernie is a Socialist, not a Communist…



From Bruce Anderson
Anderson Valley Advertiser

AS THE ELECTION heats up, and it’s heating up in rather ominous fashion, I can’t help but note some sloppy rhetoric out there beyond the usual fact-free bushwa that is the election process in our doomed country. The carelessness that annoys me most is the casual conflation of socialist and communist as it applies to Bernie Sanders. The Bern is a socialist. Fidel Castro is a communist.

IN REAL LIFE, and real life history, there’s more of a difference between communist and socialist than there is between Democrat and Republican. In America our two parties run the gamut from communist to fascist. We don’t have many socialists, and we have very few communists. We’ve got fascists coming in the windows.

IN THE PARLIAMENTARY countries of the world each ideology has its own political party. (Fascists are coming on strong in much of Europe.) Here, we’re stuck with essentially one party owned by the very wealthy. (There were some unintentionally hilarious comments from Pacific Heights matrons like Doris Fisher and Charlotte Mailliard in Sunday morning’s Chron. They said they’d probably have to leave the country if Bernie became president, and how embarrassed they’d be if Trump got elected. The Fisher family owns the Mendocino Redwood Company, Mrs. Mailliard-Schultz has an interest in Yorkville’s vast Mailliard Ranch.)

Dead Standing Trees Initiative Qualifies For June Ballot, Becomes Measure V…


Ted Williams, fire chief for the Albion Little River Fire District says poisoned trees, which turn silver after dying, background, near Comptche are fire hazards. The land is owned by Mendocino Redwood Company and uses the hack-and-squirt method to kill oak trees in order to bring back a redwood canopy, Friday April 17, 2015. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)

From Els Cooperrider

Citizens for Fire Safe Forests is a group of Mendocino County firefighters and residents working to stop the practice of killing and leaving dead standing trees in our forests. Killing and leaving dead standing trees is a practice done by many companies (especially Mendocino Redwood Company or MRC) and is known as “hack’n’squirt” because the practice involves hacking into and injecting poison into the tree. We believe that intentionally killed standing dead trees pose an unnecessary risk to firefighters, citizens and property.

Mendocino County firefighters and residents have gathered the required number of signatures to qualify for the June Primary ballot. Nearly 5000 citizens signed the petition to declare intentionally killed and left standing trees a public nuisance. “Citizens have asserted their right to mitigate hazards created by industry shortcuts where regulators and elected officials have fallen short in public protection,” said Albion Little River Fire Chief Ted Williams (pictured above).

In Mendocino County millions of trees have been intentionally killed and left in place to slowly decompose. The practice of injecting herbicides, commonly known as hack and squirt, is used because it is the least expensive way to eliminate what the timber industry considers undesirable hardwoods, especially tanoaks. The main culprit, Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC) has poisoned tanoaks in nearly 90,000 acres of our county. MRC previously told residents that they would phase out the practice, but more recently indicate they plan to continue hack & squirt for another 20-30 years.

Ecologists believe that hardwoods play an important role in restoring healthy forests. We believe MRC is most concerned with its corporate bottom line, even at the risk to firefighters, residents, and property.

This Measure is a well-reasoned approach to public safety and corporate responsibility.

Vote YES on Measure V June 7th.

Bernie Sanders — Socialist For President…




From Bruce Anderson
Anderson Valley Advertiser

Churchill usually gets the credit for the old saw, “Any man who is not a socialist when he’s twenty has no heart. Any man who is still a socialist at age forty has no head.” I’ve made it headless into my seventh decade, having been a socialist all my conscious days and, in my case, the consciousness light bulb fluttered on when I was about twenty from a combination of books and experience, inchoate as the dawning was. It’s surreal hearing ideas I’ve taken as obvious truth for fifty years being recited by Bernie Sanders on national television — not only being recited but resonating with millions of people, especially young people.

Sanders gets derided by the hard left as merely a “nominal” socialist, more of an FDR liberal than whatever the hard left means by a real socialist. Well, there he is, while the real socialists are still in the echo chamber checking each other’s credentials. Bern’s soft FDR-like socialism is much more workable here in our rapidly fraying country because his socialism is based on nothing more radical than a fair system of taxation. FDR taxed the shit out of the rich, hitting the greedy bastards at 95% on the big incomes, of which there were then a lot fewer. Bern’s proposals are at a positively wimpy 40%.

Defusing a Ticking Time Bomb



From Els Cooperrider

It is inevitable that there will be another wildfire. It is part of the redwood ecology. As with the 2008 Lightning Complex fires, it will be high intensity and difficult to fight. Decades of overcutting and fire suppression have resulted in proliferation of forest fuels.

Timber companies are currently poisoning hardwood trees using a method called “Hack & Squirt”, leaving the trees to die and eventually decompose. As a result, our coastal forests now have as many as 15 million intentionally killed hardwood trees left standing. Add to that a tinder-dry forest in its fourth year of drought and we have—a ticking time bomb!

Even if you don’t live near the forest and are not in danger of losing your life or property, you care about our brave volunteer and professional firefighters.

A Cal Fire Incident Commander cautions his firefighters about the dangerous snags and dead trees which can fall and spread a fire. “He wanted to be sure that the firefighters paid attention carefully to each and every snag. It only takes one to cause injury or death.”

I asked our Mendocino County Air Pollution Control Officer Bob Scaglione about the smoke from these poisoned trees when they burn. He wrote: “… the main ingredient, isopropylamine salt of Imazapyr…indicates that when thermally decomposed, may release hazardous and/or toxic fumes. and may release irritating or toxic fumes if burned.” He went on: Just as in “treated” lumber, I would whole heartedly recommend NOT burning wood that has been treated with any other EPA registered herbicide or pesticide.

Scaglione continued: “As to your question concerning protection of you and your family in case of fire, let me state the obvious; the most healthy option is not to remain in smoke laden areas if at all possible.”

You may not be in danger of burning in the next forest fire, but most of us will be breathing that toxic smoke when those poisoned trees burn. Think of our firefighters, putting themselves in harm’s way. They are the first line of defense and the first to be harmed by this misguided practice of intentionally killing and leaving standing millions of trees every year.

I hope you’ll give your firefighters and neighbors a fighting chance by signing the petition to place this important initiative on the ballot. MRC’s Mike Jani recently told a reporter that when this initiative becomes law they’d stop hack & squirt. Please help us defuse this time bomb.

For info contact:
Els Cooperrider,
(707) 937-6250

Hey Rich Conservative Assholes: Social Security is NOT a ‘Ponzi Scheme’



Mark Scaramella in the Anderson Valley Advertiser responds to a current local letter repeating one of the many false Republican bullshit memes that Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme…

‘Social Security a Ponzi Scheme’

The writer… is wrong for several reasons.

The rightwing, aka Republicans, have been trying to get rid of Social Security since it was enacted by FDR. Calling it a “ponzi scheme” is just another cheap attempt to do that.

Ponzi schemes are frauds to benefit one person or an inside group of persons based on misrepresentations. Social security benefits us all and there are no misrepresentations as to where the money comes from or where it goes. It comes from all Americans and goes back to them after age 62 as they see fit.

Ponzi schemes collapse of their own weight and don’t deliver on their promises. Social Security has been around for decades and continues to deliver on its promises based on fully and openly audited revenues and disbursements. It would be even more solvent if it were means tested or if the earnings cap was lifted, but even without that Social Security delivers on its promises and is depended on by millions of aging and disabled Americans. The people who want to get rid of Social Security are rich and don’t need retirement protection. The only threat to Social Security is the government using its revenues as collateral for more borrowing and Wall Street which wants it all — now.

Ponzi schemes are based on fantasy methodologies that no ordinary person would believe unless they were gullible and greedy enough to want to believe them. Social Security has no fantasy or secret schemes and does not promise more than it can deliver…

Complete article here

Ukiah Residents Ride Out Southern California Mud Slides…


From Dave Smith
Redwood Valley

You may have seen this harrowing viral video taken near Tehachapi during the recent mud sldes in Southern California. Figuring prominently in the video is a truck and camper that is “about to go over the edge” when last seen as the jumble of vehicles float uncontrollably in the rising mud tide.

In that truck and camper are prominent longtime Ukiahians Greg Foss and wife Becky who endured 40 minutes of a near-death ride from hell.

Thankfully, they did not go over the edge to their doom… the “edge” being the 6 foot high median barrier. Their truck and camper were totaled, but they survived… cold, shivering, but physically unscathed.

Last night at the Ukiah Fairgrounds Valley Fire fundraiser event, the Funky Dozen band, along with hundreds of local area donors and victims, sang, yelled, and danced to the Gloria Gaynor classic “I Will Survive”…

Down on the dance floor, front and center where they usually are at local musical celebrations, dancing and laughing, were Greg and Becky…

Oh no, not I, I will survive
Oh, as long as I know how to love
I know I’ll stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
And I’ve got all my love to give
And I, I, I will survive…

WILL PARRISH: The Reservoir Stops Here (Part 1)




Part 2 here

On the edge of the Yolly Bolly Wilderness, about 15 miles north of the dusty cattle and marijuana town of Covelo, 81-year-old Richard Wilson sits across from me in a ranch house his father constructed here in the 1940s. For much of his adult life, Wilson has defended the meaning and importance of the Round Valley area and the values he and other local people attach to it. So, while the ostensible purpose of my visit is to discuss Wilson’s utterly unique personal role in shaping the State of California’s water engineering history, it is no surprise that he also wants to hold forth on the drought’s local impact.

“When we get good, wet winters the snow packs down on the mountaintops at about four thousand feet, then holds there into the summer,” says Wilson in his spare and placid style. “As the snow melts, it keeps the grass growing, and that’s how you know where to find your cattle. In the last four years, there’s just been no snow.”

Wilson’s ranch, known as Buck Mountain, spans a roughly 20,000 acre portion of the second largest fork of California’s third largest watershed: the Middle Fork of the Eel River. While few places in California are more remote from urban life, both Wilson and his watershed are central to understanding why California Governor Jerry Brown and other powerful elements of the state and federal government are currently avidly pursuing multi-billion dollar dam projects and 40-mile-long water conveyance tunnels that began as small print in economic and engineering charts in the early-1950s.

In 1960, California voters approved a referendum on the California Water Project, the largest bond issue in the state’s history in constant dollars. By decade’s end, the project had blocked the Feather River with what was then world’s tallest dam. It had paid for giant pumping stations in the San Francisco Bay Delta move water into canals that parallel I-5 through the San Joaquin-Tulare portions of the Central Valley, as well as a 444-mile bloodline known as the California Aqueduct.

But the State Water Project has never fully been built, and a major reason why is sitting across from me here in the disorderly pine- and fir-studded mountains above Covelo. In 1967, the US Army Corps of Engineers unveiled a proposal to construct the largest dam and reservoir project in California’s history: the so-called “Dos Rios Dam” on the Middle Fork of the Eel. In addition to being 730-feet-high, the dam would have flooded a 40,000-acre area for its reservoir, equal in size to the Shasta and Oroville reservoirs combined.

The Caltrans Bypass: An Un-Mitigated $50,000,000 Disaster…


From Chris Hardaker

The Caltrans-Willits Bypass Mitigation projects amount to the most expensive tally that Caltrans has ever spent on mitigation – defined as compensating for and/or repairing the destruction incurred during the project, including environmental and cultural resources (archaeology).  $50,000,000 mitigation dollars are being spent on the overblown northern intersection area. This is the price tag for terra-forming non-wetlands into wetlands, to compensate for the destruction of healthy wetlands during the construction of the new freeway.

This kind of terra-forming has never been tried before. That makes this ‘most expensive mitigation project’ a $50,000,000 ‘experimental mitigation project.’ No guarantees it will work. It could have all been avoided if CalTrans chose to build a smaller northern intersection, at least until their second stage of construction, at some nebulous and unscheduled point in the future. But Caltrans insisted. And it was all approved by the Mendocino County and Willits City Councils.

The AVA calls Mendocino County Health Services a “stinking pile of privatized administrative manure”…


mEvan Johnson has photoshopped what many of us say every time we drive by…

From TheAVA

WE’RE AMAZED that no one in Official Mendocino County seems upset in the least about Mental Health Director Tom Pinizzotto — a former Ortner executive — negotiating billing rates and Mental Health contracts with his old pals at Ortner Management Group.

WE HAVE Supervisor Dan Gjerde pointing out that Ortner is overcharging for administration.
WE HAVE Ortner’s bill showing that they’re overcharging for case management (and probably more, buried deep in their nearly unreadable bills).

WE HAVE the Grand Jury’s report from last year pointing out in chapter and verse that Mr. Pinizzotto has an obvious “appearance” of a conflict of interest, i.e., an actual conflict of interest if not a technically illegal one.

SINCE Pinizzotto oversees Ortner’s Mental Health activities and acts as gatekeeper for information to the Board of Supervisors and the public, and since he’s a former Ortner employee who negotiated privatization of roughly half of Mendocino County’s mental health services (valued at $7 to $ million annually) with Ortner and then went to work as an administrator with the unprivatized part of Mendocino County’s mental health services, how could this NOT be an illegal conflict of interest?

WE HAVE a Mental Health Advisory Board that doesn’t interest itself in finances or actual delivery of services, which causes us to wonder how that board views its function. What is its reason for being?

WE STILL HAVE a bloated County Mental Health department — also overseen by Pinizzotto — in spite of most of the work supposedly having been farmed out to Ortner Management Group, a private for-profit business, and Redwood Children’s Management Company, another private business.

WE HAVE A Board of Supervisors (well, four of them anyway — Hamburg is either oblivious or complicit) who seem interested in looking into some aspects of the Mental Health Department’s finances but never gets around to actually doing it.

WE HAVE a small army of free-range nuts and drug-addled Mendolanders who get no “service” and cause a lot of trouble and expense because a huge chunk of the Mental Health money is not going anywhere near them. Instead, we have the Ortner people offering alleged services like Tai Chi and Geezers Talking To Each Other (“Senior Peer Counseling”) being charged out by the minute as a “Mental Health Service.”

WE HAVE this private contractor, Ortner, in business to make a profit for its owners deciding who gets what mental health service based largely on ability to pay or insurance coverage.

AND WE HAVE Ortner (via a subcontractor) about to move in to the Old Coast Hotel in downtown Fort Bragg where they will surely expand their admin services even more because Ortner has yet to bill at his full spending authority rate rubberstamped by the supervisors.

WE HAVE HHSA Director Stacey Cryer saying — admitting, really, after more than two years of privatization experience — they have a lot to learn about the process, and admits that the County and Ortner are still performing duplicate administrative functions.

WE HAVE AN ongoing multi-million dollar mental health deficit caused by state denials of mental health service reimbursement claims, which drains money away from other important county programs, including law enforcement which has become Mendocino County’s de facto mental health services provider although we’re paying a private provider between $7 and $8 million annually to care for this county’s adult walking wounded.

AND WE HAVE the Board of Supervisors throwing even more money at this badly broken and corrupt mess via two recent $500k Mental Health contract amendments and the pending $150k “Stepping Up” initiative as if any real good is being done for the bulk of the Mentally Ill with these wasted tax dollars.

HOW BAD DOES THIS HAVE TO GET before somebody at least audits this stinking pile of privatized administrative manure?

CALLING DA EYSTER: Is fraud still a crime? Isn’t Pinizzotto’s position illegal?

KZYX News…


From The AVA

Demand For Inspection Of Records By KZYX/Z Board Director And Members

The following letter has been sent certified mail to Stuart Campbell, Board President, KZYX and John Coate, General Manager. The letter is self evident, but it is worth noting that a sitting Board Member, John Sakowicz and other members are the authors of the letter.

Should you have follow up questions, please contact me:

Thank you.

M Kathryn Massey


Stuart Campbell, President June 9, 2015

Mendocino County Public Broadcasting

P.O. Box 1 Via Registered Mail

Philo, CA 95466

John Coate, General Manager


P.O. Box 1

Philo, CA 95466

Re: Demand for Inspection and Copying of Records by Director and Members

Messrs. Campbell and Coate:

Poisoning Little Lake at the Liar’s Ball, Hosted by Caltrans.


Mike Sturm: Foreman of Summer Breeze Ranch (Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese), and surrounded by Caltrans’ mitigation lands on three sides:
“If they do any spraying on the ditch fence there,” Sturm said, “I’m going to get overdrift. And it’s going to pollute the water. I never thought I would be an environmentalist,” he added. “Our farm has been certified by the state as being organic, and if they do that, it’s going to mess up our organic status bigtime. And as a former user – I’ve used all these chemicals – they stay in the ground, they don’t go away, and they all cause cancer. I don’t want to see them out there, and if there’s some way we can stop it, I’d sure appreciate it.” Willits Weekly, Thursday, March 19, 2015

Caltrans’s industrial scale poisoning campaign is coming to Little Lake starting this summer and there is nothing you can do about it. It is a brand new component of the $50,000,000 mitigation package. Caltrans broke the news last year during Thanksgiving. Yeah.

For the first stage, almost 70 acres of poison will be applied, three times a month for five months for several years, a.k.a. fifteen times a year. The Valley has never been subjected to this amount of poison ever! Compared to the usages of poisons in other valleys in the county, Little Lake can be regarded as a virgin. And it is going to happen just in time for Football practice, rodeos and the Kinetic Carnival.

Co-opted: The Fall Of The Natural Foods Cooperative And What We Can Do About It…


From Bob St.Peter

Nearly forty years ago small groups of eaters who were tired of crappy, industrial food began organizing into buying clubs and cooperatives to bring whole, organic, and local foods into their communities. But like the organic food movement generally, the food coops that were born out of resistance and a progressive vision have been co-opted by Big Food, industrial capitalism’s need for the consolidation of wealth and power, and the American consumer’s unceasing desire for fast food. Walk through any retail food co-op in the country and if you know what to look for you’ll find shelves and coolers full of food from companies owned by General Mills, Kraft, Coke, Cargill, the colonial empire of Dole, and other top players in the global food industry. These transnational food corporations disguise their own organic brands with clever marketing or just simply buy up existing natural or organic food companies to add to their stables.