Around Mendo Island

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.

The True Origins of Christmas…


The Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the Sun,
in which they put a man whom they call Christ, in the place of the Sun,
and pay him the same adoration which was originally paid to the Sun.
-Thomas Paine


Christmas Day, The Once Again Reborn Sun of God

There is another very interesting phenomenon that occurs around December 25th, or the winter solstice. From the summer solstice to the winter solstice, the days become shorter and colder.

And from the perspective of the northern hemisphere, the sun appears to move south and get smaller and more scarce. The shortening of the days and the expiration of the crops when approaching the winter solstice symbolized the process of death to the ancients.

It was the death of the sun…

Complete article from Jamie Lee’s Anderson Valley TABU Blog here

Los Angeles, City of Water…


From Janie Sheppard
Mendocino County

[If Los Angeles can hugely reduce its water consumption it’s worth a few minutes to consider the claims of Claude Lewenz that MendoVito could indeed further show us the way forward.  Surely if Los Angeles can reduce its water usage, a new community that doesn’t have to retrofit can reduce per capita water use hugely as well.  It’s at least worth considering.  I recommend reading the article in the New York Times via the link below.

“One sign of Los Angeles’s earnestness is its success in conservation: The city now consumes less water than it did in 1970, while its population has grown by more than a third, to 3.9 million people from 2.8 million. Two projects — a nine-acre water-treating wetland constructed in a former bus maintenance yard and a water management plan devised for a flood-prone district of 80,000 people — won awards this year from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure. The city itself won one of the first water sustainability awards given by the U.S. Water Alliance, in 2011.” -JS]

LOS ANGELES is the nation’s water archvillain, according to public perception, notorious for its usurpation of water hundreds of miles away to slake the thirst of its ever-expanding population. As a character in “Chinatown,” the noirish 1974 film starring Jack Nicholson that churns through the city’s water history, puts it, “Either you bring the water to L.A., or you bring L.A. to the water.”

Recently, however, Los Angeles has reduced its reliance on outside sources of water. It has become, of all things, a leader in sustainable water management, a pioneer in big-city use of cost-effective, environmentally beneficial water conservation, collection and reuse technologies. Some combination of these techniques is the most plausible path to survival for all the cities of the water-depleted West.

Claude Lewenz of MendoVito interview now posted at Mendocino Talking…


(Claude Lewenz proposes to build a self-contained “VillageTown” of 5,000 to 10,000 people to be located in McDowell Valley, Southeast of Hopland on 423 acres. 

The purpose of my interview was not to learn more about the project — which was well-presented at the recent forum in Hopland, and in his book How To Build a Village, and on the website — but rather to find out who he is. He says that he is not a “developer” looking to make a profit, but rather a “social entrepreneur” defined on the website as “individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems.”

On the website… “A VillageTown is a set of organizational principles designed to enable people and communities to regain control over their own economies and lives. It is used to design and build a self-created, self-funded, self-governing settlement, an archetypal country town that is made of villages, and that does not use a developer. Car-free within its urban core, its people work within walking distance of home… Based on common sense, not utopian ideals, it is what happens when timeless “patterns” proven to work are integrated with the best potential of new technology. Environmentally, socially and culturally, it focuses on balancing life to be sustainable, so present generations leave the earth and its people in better condition than what they inherited from those who came before.”

Here is Claude’s personal story…)


Doug Mosel Interview Now Posted at 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)

Interview available here

Breakfast for Acorn Gatherers…


Laughing Frog Farm

I’ve just finished my morning bowl of acorn mush, and is it ever way better than it sounds or looks – you do not want to see its photo, trust me on that. Here’s the method I used…

First I put my harvest in a pail of water to sort out floaters. I’d skip this step next time, as there was only one. Then I dried them in the sun a few days. I cracked the shells with a hammer – lots of acorns ricocheting around the kitchen – then switched to a regular nutcracker, which works fine. There were a few worms, and a few more that had begun to mold (perhaps due to the unnecessary immersion in water).

I put the shelled acorn meats through the blender with water – one cup acorns / three cups water. Then I poured the mixture into a quart jar and set it in the refrigerator. The next morning, the acorn meal had settled to the bottom, and the water was dark orange with tannin. I poured off the water and added more, screwed the lid back on, shook the jar, and replaced it in the frig. I did this daily for a week, by which time the water was only barely discolored. This is really easy, and takes no more time than it does to read about it.

I’ve used the resulting glop as a thickener for soup and pudding as well as a breakfast. The taste is mildly nutty, like chestnuts. Today I added raisins, pecan bits, cacao nibs, and just a taste of maple syrup and coconut oil, and heated it until it bulked up into the consistency of oatmeal. I poured it over fresh pear chunks. Satisfying. Warming. Divine.
Please also see Acorns and Eat ‘Em PDF

KZYX needs a major attitude adjustment…


From Dennis O’Brien
Ukiah, California

Legal/Policy Analysis of Mendocino County Public Broadcasting (KZYX&Z)


In March 2006, the Board of Directors of MCPB/KZYX transferred all hiring/firing authority to the General Manager. In 2009, the current GM used that authority to eliminate the News Director position, along with the five most popular NPR shows, without public discussion. The current Board now forbids any Director from overseeing any work of the GM or Staff, even though such oversight is each Director’s responsibility.

The Program Director and Staff are thus one more step removed from the Members and the Community. The Board no longer responds to questions, and has declared it will not intervene in Management/Staff decisions. Written requests for information have also been ignored.

Mendocino County Makes History and Passes Law Establishing Local Self-Governance…

Anderson Valley

Mendocino County, in the pristine northern lands of California, where the magnificent ancient coastal Redwood trees meet the inland California Oaks, has voted itself into the constitution writing (righting) business.

Yesterday, by a significant margin, they became the first county in California, and only the second county in the country to pass into law a very powerful local ordinance that declares local self-governing rights in their communities over state and federal jurisdiction. Over 67% of the votes cast were in favor of the measure.

The ordinance provides for waters free from toxic trespass; preemptively bans all fracking activities countywide with heavy fines and penalties for violation of the ordinance; and establishes a Community Bill of Rights to, for, and by the residents of Mendocino County while checking corporate powers as well.

In addition, the newly created law gives the Rights of Nature to exist and flourish without toxic trespass whereas previously Nature had no standing in the court of law.

Here is some of the powerful language in the proposed ordinance which you can read…

Complete article here

James Houle: Costco Needs Another Look…

cBefore and After Costco
Northbound entry to Ukiah

Redwood Valley

This letter was presented to the Ukiah City Council meeting Wednesday October 15th.
Dear Council-members:  Re: DEIR for Talmage Road Interchange Modification

During the five-year history of the Costco Project, no local government entity has seriously considered and reported upon the economic impact of the project nor upon its financial viability. The City’s purchase of 15.3 acres of land for $2.34 million under the Redevelopment Program assumed further build-out of the Redwood Industrial Park made good sense although no examination of the expected new tax revenues, nor of the prospect of significant taxes lost as a result from shuttered enterprises was ever reported to the citizens. As originally planned, the $2.34 million land acquisition would be paid back to the City by Costco and used for the Talmage Interchange project. Any addition funds for traffic improvements and the like could be obtained under the same Redevelopment Account.

Herb Ruhs Comments…


From Herb Ruhs

[Responding to What Shall We Do?]

Psychopaths, people with brain anomaly that prevents identifying with the suffering of others. Intelligent psychopaths use this deficiency to overwhelm normals who tend to restrain themselves morally. This makes them superior competitors. For the past few thousand years this tiny minority has progressively dominated normal, feeling people up to the point now where covert and overt control of large institutions can be described as a final triumph of heartless psychopaths over normal people. This is what makes everything seem so upside down. Institutions that traditionally helped people are now savaging us. The less “developed” world is in in agony, facing violent death, starvation and dispossession in virtually every country, while ordinary people in “developed” countries are beginning to also not be able to meet basic needs. Youth are being denied adequate education, “democratic” institutions ignore the wishes of a large majorities, medical care is becoming unaffordable, and everything folks put their confidence in has betrayed them. While all this has been going on massive degrees of inequality have developed that end up making core concepts of human and/or civil rights meaningless, a cruel joke really.

Introducing ‘Mendocino Talking’…


Redwood Valley

I recently began a series of interviews with locals who are engaged in the communities of Mendocino County for the Anderson Valley Advertiser. We now have a website for them: “Mendocino Talking” located here.

So far, I’ve posted several interviews with more to come every week or so, several days after they first appear in the AVA. You will meet and get to know community stalwarts such as Els Cooperrider, Margaret Fox, Tom Hine, Will Parrish, Scott Cratty, Pat Ford and others.

I hope you are as delighted as I am with who they are and what they have to say…




Take Action: Will Parrish’s Restitution Hearing October 10th…


From Save Little Lake Valley

After all this time, CalTrans still insists on seeking criminal restitution fees from Will Parrish for his occupation of the “wick drain stitcher” in Little Lake Valley, which occurred in the early summer of 2013! After countless delays, the restitution hearing is scheduled for Friday, October 10th at 9:30 a.m. at Mendocino County Courtroom “B” in Ukiah.

CalTrans seeks $154,733 in restitution fees from Will, down from their original claim of $490,002. This is in spite of the fact that Will already settled the criminal charges related to his non-violent action in Jan. 2014, with the Mendocino County DA agreeing to two misdemeanors, which become infractions on Will’s record in Jan. 2016, and 100 hours of community service (which Will has already completed).

Your presence at the hearing helps make a powerful statement. This case provides a measuring stick for the validity of CalTrans’ utterly absurd claims that protesters caused $12 million in taxpayer burden by delaying the project in 2013.  Let’s stand behind someone who has stood up for all of us! Let’s put CalTrans’ greed on trial!

– Live in Willits? Carpool by meeting at Bountiful Gardens in Evergreen Shopping Plaza at 8:30
– Restitution Hearing at 9:30
– Rally at noon on the courthouse steps


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