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Mendocino County Today: Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018

by AVA News Service, August 8, 2018

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Lake County agencies resumed normal operations at the Courthouse yesterday morning; Supervisors and officials conducted a brief and almost uninformative meeting yesterday evening, providing the obligatory reassurances from city, county, state, and other bigwigs to inform the public of how hard the agencies are working.  In the case of actual fire fighters that is a massive understatement.  An army of PG&E workers, as per usual.  And law enforcement personnel from several counties supplementing the local Sheriff’s 27% understaffed department.

Astonishing fire fighting feats have been reported by local residents whose homes were threatened directly — and so far our towns are untouched; not so much the fate of the Elk Mountain Road communities north of Upper Lake.

Our senior center, in the town of Lucerne, was unofficially open for a couple of days early last week, and received a truckload of supplies from the Redwood Empire Food Bank, but then had to be abandoned and our stockpile of frozen foodstuffs is probably not usable after the who-knows-how-long power outage.

Animals are a very important piece of the subrosa rescue work that is also taking place, in addition to the official “Lake Evacuation & Animal Protection” volunteers supervised by the county’s Animal Control center — everywhere I stayed during the first week there were people who had little else than their animal companions, even when they lacked transportation.

Millions of wild creatures must surely have succumbed, and are still in the path of destruction.  Keep your eyes peeled, I hear it’s fire season.


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CALFIRE UPDATE (Wednesday 7am): 300,086 acres burned; 47% containment; 2 firefighter injuries; 248 structures damaged or destroyed.

“The northern portion of the Ranch Fire remained active overnight, moving further into the Mendocino National Forest transitioning into dense stands of mixed conifer. Last night fire crews worked diligently on the southern and south-east edges to increase containment and continue to work towards the threat to the surrounding communities in those areas. The River Fire had no overnight movement.”

(click to enlarge)

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OPERATION CHIEFS’ Video Report (August 8)

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(Click to enlarge)

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AIR QUALITY Public Health Advisory (August 7-8)

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FORCE OF 14,000 FIREFIGHTERS, INCLUDING 2,000 INMATES, Now Battling 18 Major Wildfires Raging Across California, Including The Largest Ever In State History As New Images Show The Smoke From Space

by Keith Griffin

Some 2,000 inmate volunteers paid $1 an hour are part of the contingent of 14,000 firefighters battling 18 major wildfires raging across California, including the massive Mendocino Complex Fire that is now the largest in state history.

The inmate volunteer force now accounts for 14 per cent of the firefighters deployed across California, and is composed of minimum-security inmates who are considered low security risks.

‘The inmate fire fighters work in teams of 12 – their specific job is to cut containment lines and fire breaks to either stop a fire or change its direction, while firefighters from CalFire and other agencies directly attack the flames,’ California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Bill Sessa said in a statement to

‘That means our inmates are often hiking into back country with 60 pounds of gear on their backs. In fire situations like those we are now seeing in California, our firefighters – and all the others as well – are working 24 hours straight before being rotated by other crews who rested in the previous 24 hours,’ Sessa said.

Sessa said that about 2,000 members of the 3,500 inmate firefighting force were working on fire lines on Tuesday, from the Oregon border to southern California.

Anyone convicted of sexual offenses, arson or attempt to escape by force is not eligible to join, and the convicts are all medically screened and trained by Cal Fire, according to the CDCR.

California’s inmate firefighting program, an offshoot of prisoner road work crews, began during WWII, when the manpower shortage left Cal Fire’s predecessor agency desperately understaffed.

Mostly doing the grunt work of creating containment lines with pick axes, shovels and chainsaws, the inmates are paid $2 a day plus $1 an hour, Sessa told KQED last fall.

Sessa said that the program saves the state up to $100 million a year.The program has provoked controversy over the years. Last fall, then-candidate for California lieutenant governor Gayle McLaughlin called the practice ‘slave labor’. But defenders say the program is voluntary, and helps inmates build valuable skills.

The inmates and the professionals with Cal Fire, who are paid a minimum of $10.50 an hour, take aim at the biggest wildfires in two ways, and in much of the same way the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has for decades. First, they’ll go at it directly with water and retardant where they can.

And when they can’t take that direct approach, firefighters retreat to a ridge, wide road or stream where they use bulldozers to cut a ‘fire line.’ There they’ll wait for the blaze to come to them while lighting ‘backfires’ to clear vegetation between the fire line and the approaching blaze.

Experts say whichever approach Cal Fire takes, California firefighters are often more aggressive in trying to extinguish wildfires than those in other less-populated states. That’s because California wildfires are increasingly threatening sprawling urban areas.

‘Cal Fire is really an urban firefighter service in the woods,’ said Arizona State University life sciences professor Stephen Pyne, a wildfire management expert.

Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said firefighters use both approaches to battle the large blazes, including the growing twin fires of the Mendocino Complex about 100 miles north of San Francisco.

McLean said firefighters are using the direct approach to prevent the fires from reaching urban areas along Clear Lake while retreating in national forests ‘and letting the fire come to us.’

By Tuesday morning, the two fires grew to a combined 454 square miles, and the fire is now the state’s largest wildfire in modern history. The previous record was set in December by the Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Smoke rising from the California’s wildfires was seen from the International Space Station on Monday and NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold took a photo of the wildfire smoke rising from California from the ISS.

McLean and fire experts say it’s impossible to surround a fire that large, especially with 17 other major fires requiring attention in the state.

‘We are building lines. Picking and choosing where we think we can take a stand,’ McLean said. ‘Attacking it where we can and waiting and letting it come to us when appropriate.’

McLean said firefighters are using direct means to prevent the Mendocino Complex from reaching evacuated urban areas on the east side of Clear Lake.

At the same time, firefighters have pulled back in the uninhabited national forests to the north, where they have cut fire lines and are employing indirect methods.

Experts say the best way to fight these destructive wildfires is to prevent them in the first place when building homes and other buildings.

‘It’s the embers, not the fire itself, that destroy most homes,’ said Steve Conboy, a construction expert whose company develops fire-resistant chemicals to apply to wood.

In the meantime, Governor Jerry Brown and other state officials warned that the state is expected to endure record-breaking wildfires going forward.

Drought, warmer weather and other factors have combined to start wildfire season sooner and make the blazes more destructive.

‘We’re in uncharted territory,’ the governor said last week. ‘Since civilization emerged 10,000 years ago, we haven’t had this kind of heat condition, and it’s going to continue getting worse. That’s the way it is.’

Firefighting costs have more than tripled from $242 million in the 2013 fiscal year to $773 million in the 2018 fiscal year that ended June 30, according to Cal Fire.

‘In past decades, we may have seen a fire that we’re seeing now in August or September,’ Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott said during a press conference last week.

‘We are routinely now seeing fires reach 100,000 acres several times in one month and it’s only July, so we have a long way to go in this fire season, and as we saw last year fire season can go right up through December.’

Over the weekend, crews made progress against one of the two blazes in the Mendocino Complex, with help from water-dropping aircraft, Cal Fire operations chief Charlie Blankenheim said in a video on Facebook.

But the other fire in the twin blaze is growing after spreading into the Mendocino National Forest.

Meanwhile, a new fire dubbed Holy Fire erupted south of Los Angeles in Orange County on Monday and quickly spread through the chaparral-covered ridges of the Cleveland National Forest.

Campgrounds and homes in Holy Jim Canyon were ordered evacuated. The fire sent up an enormous pillar of smoke and ash.

Farther north, crews gained ground against the deadly Carr Fire that has destroyed more than 1,000 homes in and around Redding. It was nearly halfway contained, Cal Fire said.

The wildfire about 225 miles north of San Francisco started more than two weeks ago by sparks from the steel wheel of a towed-trailer’s flat tire. It killed two firefighters, a utility worker and four residents and displaced more than 38,000 people.

Officials began allowing some residents to return to their neighborhoods. But tens of thousands of others were still evacuated.

The fires in Northern California have created such a haze of smoke in the Central Valley that Sacramento County health officials advised residents to avoid outdoor activities for the entire week.

Another blaze that ignited last week in the Sierra Nevada has damaged a historic Northern California resort in the Stanislaus National Forest.

The nearly century-old Dardanelle Resort has reportedly sustained massive structural damage, though the details were unclear.

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In response to citizen input, the County of Mendocino has now incorporated Nixle into our emergency notifications systems. As of today, anyone can sign up to receive emergency notifications using Nixle for events in Mendocino County.

Our mission is to continue to improve our communication with the public and relay as much information to the public as possible in all emergency incidents. Nixle will definitely enhance our communications.” — Sheriff Tom Allman

Nixle will send out emergency information for any areas requested, regardless of residency. Users may request information in a single zip code, multiple zip codes or County-wide.

To register for Nixle, sign up online at or, using your smartphone, text 888777 and enter “MendoAlerts” (without the quotation marks) to get all alerts throughout Mendocino County. For a specific zip code, text 888777 and enter the zip code. Please note that Nixle does not provide a voice notification/phone call and will only notify registered users via text message and/or email.

The County of Mendocino will continue to utilize a variety of methods to disseminate emergency notifications:

This system notifies registered users via text message and/or email. Please refer to the registration information above.

  • Mendocino Alert (MendoAlert) 

In addition to Nixle, this system allows the County of Mendocino to notify registered users in very specific geographic areas of incidents. In general, registered users will only receive a notification if they are in the affected area. This is the only system that will issue notifications via voice phone calls. Register online at

Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA)

Alerts will automatically pop up on your smartphone when you are physically located in the geographical area of the incident.

  • Emergency Alert System (EAS) 

Emergency Alert System notifications are broadcast through the radio or television and will appear automatically.

  • Social Media and Call Center 

Updated information can also be found via:

During larger emergencies the Call Center may be opened to answer citizen’s questions or concerns. This information will be shared via one of the above listed communication methods.

For more information, please contact the Mendocino County Executive Office at (707) 463-4441.

Carmel J. Angelo, Chief Executive Officer/Director of OES

Thomas Allman, Sheriff

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North Coast Opportunities has reopened its Wildfire Relief Fund to support fire survivors in Lake and Mendocino Counties.

North Coast Opportunities, Inc, (NCO) announced on Monday, July 30th, that they’ve reopened their wildfire relief fund to support those impacted by the 2018 Lake and Mendocino County wildfires. All major credit cards are being accepted via PayPal at, or by mail and in-person at 413 N. State Street, Ukiah CA, 95482.

In 2015, NCO worked with other area organizations in response to Lake County’s Rocky, Jerusalem, and Valley Fires. In 2016, NCO opened the fund in response to Lake County’s Clayton Fire, and again in 2017 for the Redwood Fire in Mendocino County and the Sulphur Fire in Lake County. The fund is now open with hopes to support those impacted by the Pawnee Fire, Ranch Fire and River Fire.

The Wildfire Relief Fund is dependent on community donations. Relief will be disbursed by committee determination or through NCO’s Disaster Case Managers. Those with the greatest needs, like residents who experienced a total loss, are given priority. 100% of donated funds will be returned to the community, directly to 2018 Lake and Mendocino County Fire survivors. Applications to apply for assistance will soon be available at

While the Wildfire Relief Fund supports longer term needs, like housing repairs, hundreds of residents are still evacuated. Many people need immediate assistance with everyday basics, like gas, food, diapers, loss of wages, and more.

“The best way to help people immediately is by donating visa gift cards,” says NCO Executive Director Patty Bruder. “We can immediately disperse gift cards to those who need it most.” During evacuation many residents experienced loss of power. As they repopulate, they will return home to spoiled food. Visa gift cards can help with food replacement and cover the extra housing and transportation costs incurred while being evacuated.

“Soon we’ll begin accepting applications from fire survivors who need assistance,” adds Bruder. “Once we’ve determined how much we’ve collected, we can begin defining the scope of disbursement, from eligibility, to recovery needs.”

NCO is the community action agency that supports Lake and Mendocino Counties as well as parts of Humboldt, Sonoma, Del Norte, and Solano Counties. NCO remains a committed partner during disasters that impact Lake and Mendocino Counties. This year NCO celebrates 50 years of service through community action.

Those interested in donating should contact NCO at 707-467-3200. Fire survivors in Mendocino County may contact Disaster Case Managers at 707-621-8817. Lake County Disaster Case Managers may be reached at 707-994-2910.  For more information or to donate please visit

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “The sun at dawn Tuesday was smoke-basted and  looked like bad blood. Beautiful though, wasn’t it?”

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MEASURE B boosted the local sales tax a teensy bit to fund an in-County psychiatric unit. A two-thirds vote was required to make it law. Convincing two-thirds of the people to agree on anything these days means a clear majority of Mendo people recognized the need to keep our mentally troubled people at home rather than dispatch them to distant lock-up facilities who charge exorbitant fees. Sheriff Allman was the driving force behind Measure B. He appeared before the Supervisors this morning as 20 (count ’em) of us citizens looked on via YouTube. The Sheriff wants the Supervisors to speed up the site selection process to get the thing launched, and as we all know any public project these days takes years to realize. The sooner we get started the sooner we’ll have a psych unit.

WE’VE THOUGHT from the beginning the logical place for the unit is the old Howard Hospital in Willits. It would be a lot less expensive to re-do part of the old hospital than it would be to build a ground-up facility. It would help speed up the process to getting ‘er done if the Supes would at least recommend the old hospital as the logical, less costly site. Or failing that, get together with the Measure B Committee to agree on an alternative site.

THE ABANDONED HOWARD HOSPITAL, our Willits informants tell us, lies a’mouldering, with drunks and homeless transients camping out in and around it. There are neighbors who don’t want a psych unit where homeless anarchy presently rules, but one would think that an orderly, well-supervised, small-scale medical facility would be preferable to the growing squalor neighbors of the deteriorating structure presently enjoy. And how about all the years when Howard Hospital was open 24-7, with a nightly parade of the unhinged in and out of the emergency room?

WHAT WE HAVE HERE is modern government in full flower — endless delays because of endless consultations with endless committees, endless considerations of endless options. If this thing ever gets built it will be one of our larger minor miracles. Meanwhile, Mendocino County’s mentally ill are either shuffling up and down State Street with their stuff in shopping carts waiting to be pinballed out of the county to a thousand dollar a day pharmaceuticals juggler.

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RECOMMENDED READING: “Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine,” by Joe Hagan. Knowing nothing about rock and roll and caring less, I was a 60’s guy who managed not to hear much of the music, and what I heard was accidental when, in 1967, we’d walk down the hill from 191 Frederick in the upper Haight — 3 bed, 1 ba $125 a month — to the Panhandle where a lot of the famous groups just starting out played for free. It was quite a spectacle, the first mass appearance of The Unrestrained People, aka hippies. But I read Rolling Stone from the first because Wenner always included some great writing, some great reporting. His life certainly makes for interesting reading, so interesting I cringed at some of it and wondered why Wenner had been so extremely forthcoming. For a “straight” guy, at least in the business sense, Wenner ought to be a shoo-in for the Libertine Hall of Fame. You read his adventures with drugs and his all night adventures with people like Hunter Thompson and wonder how he found the time and energy to build his mag into the journalo-powerhouse it became.

Anyone curious about what Mick Jagger and other luminaries of rock and roll are like (about what you would expect) will enjoy this bio, as will most people interested in the life of an interesting person, which Wenner certainly is. The book is so startlingly revelatory of Wenner’s complicated personal life that it’s no surprise he and the author are no longer speaking.

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WE’RE HEARING that the authorities are pretty sure how the Ranch Fire started, but are not ruling out arson as the cause of the River Fire, although no public statements about the causes of either fire, since having become California’s largest fire ever and still burning.

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(Click to enlarge)

Photo by Susie de Castro

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MSP was on the road, but when got into cell coverage we received the following message from a viewer @ 4:23 pm: “Just heard a bank got robbed in Ukiah. Didn’t hear which one. Suspect dressed in all black with glasses and bandages on face. Fled on foot.”

Thanks “J.B.”

He messaged back: “It was Chase bank in Ukiah. Last seen southbound on Oak street on foot.”

(via MendocinoSportsPlus)

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I was at the Philo Greenwood Road Bridge a few days ago and I was so disappointed in the amount of trash thrown around everywhere. I took all I could in the bag I found but was wondering if anybody would like to help set up a clean up day at the river under and around the bridge. I would love to help!

(Stacie Imerone Lynch)

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CATCH OF THE DAY, August 7, 2018

Boriel-Morales, Caraveo, Contreras

OSCAR BORIEL-MORALES, Attempted burglary, under influence.

GORGONIO CARAVEO, Victorville/Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon with great bodily injury.

GEORGE CONTRERAS, Lucerne. Entering closed disaster area, disorderly conduct-alcohol.

Edwards, Garland, Hammon

MONICA EDWARDS, Clearlake. Vehicle theft, taking vehicle without owner’s consent, shoplifting, resisting, probation revocation.

WAYNE GARLAND, Willits. Controlled substance, resisting, probation revocation.

SEAN HAMMON, Kelseyville. Torture, assault with deadly weapon not a gun, false imprisonment, willful cruelty to child with possible injury or death, domestic abuse, witness intimidation, criminal threats.

Harris, Hoeflich, Lamica

ZACHARY HARRIS, Clearlake. Controlled substance for sale, more than an ounce of pot, pot possession for sale, pot sales, paraphernalia, evasion.

SHALA HOEFLICH, Garberville/Ukiah. Probation revocation.

RYAN LAMICA, Mill Valley/Clearlake. DUI, willful cruelty to child with possible injury or death, suspended license, renting vehicle to person with interlock restriction.

Mabery, Martinez, Odell, Otwell

MICHAEL MABERY, Cobb. Entering closed disaster area, suspended license, controlled substance.

ANDREW MARTINEZ, Ukiah. Second degree burglary.

MICHAEL ODELL, Ukiah. Criminal threats.

JONAH OTWELL, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)

Rosales-Praza, Sanders, Santos

JAVIER ROSALES-PRAZA, Lakeport. Burglary tools, impersonating a police officer, paraphernalia.

RHONDA SANDERS, Willits. DUI-alcohol&drugs, disobeying court order, probation revocation.

MICHAEL SANTOS, Nice. Entering closed disaster area, disorderly conduct-loitering, controlled substance, paraphernalia.

Scott, Stinson, Supnet, Weidemann

ROBERT SCOTT, Clearlake Oaks. Domestic abuse, parole violation.

JORDAN STINSON, Lucerne/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

BENNY SUPNET, Yuba City/Hopland. Obliteration of coloration or markings applicable to imitation firearm, controlled substance for sale, paraphernalia.

JOSHUA WEIDEMANN, Ukiah. Stolen vehicle, loaded firearm, ammo possession by prohibited person, felon/addict with firearm.

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According to the study, a three-decade shift of financial risk from government and employers to individuals is at fault, as aging Americans are dealing with longer waits for full Social Security benefits, 401(k) plans replacing employer-provided pensions and more out-of-pocket spending on items such as health care.

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There has been much agitated talk about internet posting of plans for 3D-printed guns. Paul Penzone’s op-ed (“Don’t flood US with 3D-printed guns,” July 27) is a typical example of fear-inducing warnings about “drug cartels, arms traffickers and terrorists” poised to cause death and chaos if the plans are published.

The plans for 3D-printed guns already are available on the internet and have been since 2013. The guns produced by this method haven’t been used by drug cartels, etc. because they are primitive and ineffective, which is inevitable at the current stage of 3D-printing development.

Plans for the construction of other far-more-lethal weapons have also been available on the internet for years, so stopping this particular posting is totally meaningless. And there already is a federal law against manufacturing an undetectable gun, so that’s a nonissue.

In fact, the danger of internet-posted plans for 3D-printed guns is precisely as great as the danger of Sarah Palin’s Obamacare “death panels.” Both are fabricated issues, with no basis in reality, used by the party out of power to discredit the party in power. Both are propaganda — cynical distortions of facts promoted for political gain. If the one disgusted you, so should the other.

Fred Bauer


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Authorities say three men tending to a marijuana garden were arrested over the weekend after they refused to leave a fire evacuation zone in Northern California, hindering firefighters’ efforts against a massive blaze.

(Click to enlarge)

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office says deputies on Saturday found 41-year-old Gary Wertheimer, 59-year-old Steven Bell and 29-year-old Travis Bell watering a marijuana crop about 20 yards from the fire line.

The trio were arrested on suspicion of interfering with firefighters and not having authorization to be in an evacuation zone.

Firefighters had to divert three very large air tanker passes as they worked to stop the fire from reaching the town of Lucerne because the ‘hostile’ men wouldn’t leave.

All three men were later released with citations.

More than 127 wildfires are burning in 11 Western states, taxing civilian resources.

At least three states have mobilized National Guard troops to help, and five military aircraft are assisting.

The fire center says active-duty personnel have been mobilized to help firefighters 37 times since 1987, most recently in September.

Twin wildfires fueled by dry vegetation and hot, windy weather have continued to grow in Northern California.

California fire officials said that the two fires about 100 miles north of San Francisco were 30 percent contained and have scorched 428 square miles.

The two fires are burning about 14 miles apart and have destroyed 75 homes. Another 9,000 buildings are threatened.

The two fires cover an area larger than a deadly wildfire burning near Redding, California.

That blaze has killed two firefighters and five civilians and destroyed more than 1,000 homes.

(Daily Mail)

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I will also say the NYT do generally reflect a maudlin sentimentality (exhibited in the general populace), about suffering muslims, poor-me stories about migrants, and of course, the obligation to report on everything the Pope says or does.

The paper is dying and when it is gone I fear the dark ages are really going to come on strong. They just published another one today about how all the local news outfits continue to disappear and get amalgamated. You could chart the decline of society against the print circulation numbers and I am sure they would show a high correlation… or at least youth unemployment.

What is posted here and elsewhere on the internet is ephemeral, maybe as much so as yesterday’s newspaper, but the fact remains, the newspaper was better than the rest of it!

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by Dan Siegel

I first met Ron in fall 1967, soon after I arrived in Berkeley for law school. He had been elected as the radical member of the Berkeley City Council in 1966 and was already well known for his progressive politics, charisma and passionate rhetoric.

We were both members of a group of student, faculty, and community activists engaged in anti-war organizing and local electoral politics. Many members of the group had been part of the Vietnam Day Committee and the Committee for New Politics, which backed Bob Scheer’s almost successful effort to unseat Democratic Congressman Jeffrey Cohelan in 1966. Cohelan was a Lyndon Johnson Democrat and strong supporter of the Vietnam war.

In May 1968 we organized the Vietnam Commencement at the University of California. Over 2,000 students pledged to resist the draft. We also supported John George, a radical African American attorney, as he made another run at Cohelan.

In 1970 it was Dellums’ turn to take on Cohelan. He had almost universal support in the Black community and from progressives overall. By spring the Berkeley campus had been in an almost continuous uproar over the war for the past year. As student body president I directed the resources of the student government to support the Vietnam Moratorium and help create a nationwide network of campus anti-war activists. We called a successful student strike and closed the UC campus for the last six weeks of school after Nixon invaded Cambodia and murdered students at Kent State and Jackson State. Hundreds of students turned out to walk precincts for Dellums, and he was elected.

The campaign’s only blemish was its refusal, under the sway of its more moderate leaders, to include a representative of the Black Panther Party on its executive committee. The Party was much more controversial in its 1960s reality than it is today in history’s romantic rear view mirror image.

Ron’s tenure in Congress was brilliant, especially his leadership roles in ending the Vietnam War and South African Apartheid. He was also an early supporter of a single payer healthcare program and an unapologetic democratic socialist.

Many Oakland activists wanted him to use his influence to build radical political power in Oakland, but he refused. Some speculated that he did not want to challenge moderate political leaders and pastors in the Black community.

By 2006, after eight years of Jerry Brown using the City to project himself back into State office, Oakland was ready to elect a mayor with actual left politics. Many of us were excited about Ron running. He was clearly reluctant. But at a Laney College press conference, a crowd of people yelling “Run Ron run!” brought tears to his eyes and a spontaneous decision to enter the race. The campaign brought back the old Ron Dellums. He embraced a progressive and creative political platform that I helped develop and won over voters with his passionate and articulate rhetoric, enlivening his classic intelligence with moral fervor.

Ron never became the mayor we wanted him to be. After so many years of leadership and struggle, it seems that he just ran out of gas. He was a real human being and one of the East Bay’s greatest leaders for 50 years.


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Elbert Howard, a Founder of the Black Panthers, Dies at 80

by Neil Genzlinger

Elbert Howard, who was a founder of the Black Panther Party and, as its spokesman, in the thick of some of the most tumultuous events of the late 1960s and early ’70s — but who was most enthusiastic about its social-service and community-organizing work — died on Monday in Santa Rosa, Calif. He was 80.

His wife, Carole Hyams, confirmed the death. She said he had been ill for some time but did not specify a cause.

Mr. Howard, widely known as Big Man because of his linebacker’s build, did not have the high profile of the Panther leaders Bobby Seale, Huey P. Newton or Eldridge Cleaver as the group, which was formed in Oakland, Calif., in 1966, went national and took on issues like police brutality and racial injustice.

As the group’s deputy minister of information, Mr. Howard was often quoted when the more prominent party figures were on trial or in the news for other reasons. (The minister of information, Mr. Cleaver, was in exile overseas.)

He was the go-to Panther for comments during the 1970 trials in New Haven of Mr. Seale and other party members in a 1969 murder case, proceedings that spawned demonstrations and protests.

Later that year he often spoke for the party as it tried to hold a convention in Washington to rewrite the Constitution — symbolically, at least — to make it fairer to minorities and poor people, and he showed that he, like the party leaders, could bring the heated language when necessary. After the group and Howard University got into a dispute over the use of its campus for the event, he called university officials “a tool of this racist and fascist American government.”

But in a 2004 interview with the website of the PBS documentary series “POV,” when Mr. Howard was asked to name something people did not appreciate about the Black Panthers, he replied:

“People didn’t understand what our survival programs really meant: schoolchildren’s breakfasts, feeding the hungry. Those programs helped immediate problems. They were also organizing tools.

“The Panthers themselves weren’t the only ones in those programs,” he continued. “We got the community involved, teaching them how to become self-reliant, whereas the government wouldn’t help with problems. It was about us helping ourselves.”

Mr. Howard was born on Jan. 5, 1938, in Chattanooga, Tenn., to Anderson and Emma (Hawkshaw) Howard.

In 1956 he enlisted in the Air Force. He served four years, and when he was discharged, from Travis Air Force Base in Northern California, he decided to stay in the area.

“My hometown of Chattanooga, Tenn., had no more to offer me than when I enlisted in the Air Force in 1956,” he wrote in a remembrance for It’s About Time, an archive devoted to the Black Panthers. “At least Oakland seemed to have a thriving black community with friendly people.”

Attending Merritt College in Oakland on the G.I. Bill, Mr. Howard met Mr. Newton and Mr. Seale, who were also students there and central figures in organizing the Black Panther Party.

Mr. Howard speaking at a sidewalk news conference in Washington in 1970.CreditCharles W. Harrity/Associated Press

He did not consider himself a public speaker at first, but he found himself given speaking assignments anyway. For the first one, he was sent to address an organization of San Francisco probation officers.

“They wanted to know what we thought about them and their jobs,” he wrote later. He told them, bluntly, that black people viewed them as being interested only in sending someone back to jail.

“My final question to the group,” he wrote, “was, ‘Did your college education and training teach you to deal with human beings with all their complex problems, or did your training just turn you into a tool to keep the revolving door at the penitentiary turning?’ ”

“It was not what they wanted to hear,” he added, “but I didn’t care.”

Mr. Howard edited the party’s newspaper, made several trips overseas representing the organization, and worked on the types of project that did not make headlines.

“ ‘Big Man’ Howard himself was responsible for a free medical clinic for sickle-cell anemia, and a work-study program for parolees” at Merritt, Mr. Seale wrote this week in a Facebook post commemorating Mr. Howard’s life.

Ms. Hyams said Mr. Howard had been adept at organizing, working on things like access for people with disabilities as well as programs aimed at black neighborhoods. “He connected with all manner of groups of people,” she said, “not just African-American groups.”

Mr. Howard was easy to spot in newspaper photographs. He did not realize how well known he had become until, in September 1971, he accompanied Mr. Seale into the Attica Correctional Facility in New York. Inmates had seized control of the prison, and Mr. Seale led a Panther contingent trying to mediate (unsuccessfully; the riot ended disastrously).

“When it was announced that Bobby Seale and a delegation of the B.P.P. was there, the whole yard erupted with applause and yells of acknowledgment,” Mr. Howard wrote. “On our way to our seats, I shook hands with many, many inmates who said, ‘Hey, Big Man, all power to the people.’ I had no idea these guys knew me or who I was.”

The party eventually became riven by internal disputes. Mr. Howard left in 1974.

Later in life he was a retail service manager in Memphis, where he also continued to be involved in community programs, including organizing a re-entry program for former inmates. He also wrote and lectured and was a jazz disc jockey on California radio stations.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Tynisa Howard Wilson; a stepson, Robert Grimes; two grandsons; and three step-grandchildren. He lived in Santa Rosa.

Ms. Hyams, who first met Mr. Howard in the 1960s, reconnected with him years later. They married a decade ago. In a telephone interview, she said that for their celebration, Big Man did what he did best.

“He, the organizer, organized it,” she said. “He was the wedding planner. He did the greatest job.”

(New York Times)

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Senator Booker says Israeli walls in Palestine are different from walls in America

Sen. Cory Booker was embarrassed after he posed with activists holding a sign decrying walls in Palestine and Mexico. And his aide quickly voiced support for Israel’s illegal wall: “security barriers are unfortunate but necessary to protect human lives.” The dustup is a reminder, Democrats have regularly failed to back immigrant rights.

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I’VE HELD CLOSE TO MY HEART an image of Donald Trump as a demented brat, crazy AND stupid, drooling, tongue lolling, dick in one hand, TV remote in the other. He puts down his dick long enough to tweet something, then back to Position One. When I’ve spoken of him here, that picture is the one I’ve written to.

But wait.

More often than not, my age is an ally. I’ve seen a thing or two, but sometimes it betrays me. Generations younger than mine know that damn near every second of somebody’s existence is encoded in ones and zeroes somewhere, at the ATM, the traffic light, toll booth, the store and God knows how many cell phones. Forget at your peril. Did I lose sight of this fact when, possibly, mis-assessing Trump?

So I saw him on David Letterman’s, ’86 or ’87. YouTube. He was handsome and suave. Letterman was Not Impressed and baited The Donald at every turn. Trump never blinked, never reacted to Dave’s “you’re-no-big-deal” treatment. Letterman wanted Trump to reveal his wealth. Trump wouldn’t. Letterman bobbed and weaved. Trump smilingly declined. The smile and refusal are steadfast. (Trump?! “Steadfast”?!) Throughout the contest, you could see Trump’s cleverness and wiliness at play.

Disturbed me. My view of the man didn’t fit this 30-years-ago Trump. This is not the platinum-spoon-in-mouth idiot I took him to be. The startling contrast between this Trump and that one means either he’s losin’ it or he’s gaming us. I fear it’s the latter. Letterman inadvertently exposed Trump’s cleverness more than his stupidity.

Come to think of it, I remember the Reagan presidency, how the word was that he was senile long before he actually was. One source of my insider information was a friend at the Chronicle, who told me their Washington reporters, who had access, saw Raygun as a laughing-stock, a clown, dangerous in his out-of-itness. [This column afflicted with hyphens. Sorry.] So Reagan successfully gaslighted us. As we watched, before our very eyes, the Clown-In-Chief pulled thirty knotted silk handkerchiefs out of his sleeve. “Look, ha-ha, they’re all different colors!”

Meantime, his dwarves carved out a new tax code, and the 1986 Tax Reform Act drastically reduced the number of tax brackets, with the top rate for individuals cut from 50 percent to 28 percent; the corporate tax rates from 48 percent to 34 percent.

THAT, boys & girls, is why the power elite, via their obedient media, keep calling Reagan “the greatest president of all time.”

To wise us up, “Saturday Night Live” did a skit that showed Reagan doing ceremonial stuff in the Oval Office, meeting with Boy Scouts and other such PR, a cheery old fool, America’s oldest president, spinning silly, made-up tales. Then the ceremonial guests left the White House, and Reagan roughly called his staff back to work. The “work” was the intense, cold-blooded work of empire.

Chilling little skit. Show business hangs out on the edges of leadership and governance, trying to tilt stages toward good outcomes, to show off our warts so we can get rid of them. This was a good effort and confirmed what I had suspected, that Reagan fooled us.

When I watched Michael Moore and Bill Maher drop their comedy act and say straight to the camera that they fear a second term for djt, I don’t scoff. They’re not alone. Many smart people agree.

Are we at a defining point, where the fate of humankind is in the balance? I think so. “1984” was written in 1948 to show where we were headed. Another excellent example of that genre, “A Canticle for Liebowitz,” was first published in 1959 and is still flying off shelves today. There are many others. They are cautionary tales about what’s going down at this moment, and they don’t predict a good outcome.

What if Trump is an ideal expression of Our Future? What if humankind’s brutal instincts are stronger than our “better angels.” I’m afraid they are, so it doesn’t take a colorful villain like Trump to give them free reign. In a big, shadowy mob behind him, comfortable, dangerous and potent, out of common public view, are his enablers. They are richer and more devious, icier in their individual and collective psychopathy, more determined and pinpoint focused.These are men and women nice to their dogs and agreeable enough when they encounter the naive daily world, gracious, even. They are generous in highly visible ways, these fair-weather philanthropists. They are the true, the genuine, the forever-with-us and forever-elusive Deep State, a formidable pairing of public and private individuals, in deadly agreement.

They exist and do not use the phrase “Deep State” except to mock it (so the public opinion-makers, left and right, routinely get its definition wrong). They are remorseless and understand “good” as a word for daydreamers and losers. They are the One Percent, and they persuade themselves that they are the guardians of civilization, at any cost. They do not admit that their sole concerns are their own supremacy and those of their class.

It’s not just Trump we must exorcise. It’s an entire class. “Embrace the Suck,” say marines. I say embrace class war. Like Communism, class war is a concept we are taught and daily reinforced to reject and despise, and, like communism and socialism, we need to re-think for ourselves. Dog eat dog is okay for the big dogs but genocide to the genus Homo. We need governance that is not receptive to fascism and an economic world that puts cooperation over murder.

Simple as that.

(Mitch Clogg)

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Hawaii Update

Warmest spiritual greetings, Awake in the bed and watching the mental factory churn out thoughts, while fingering black onyx beads.  Resisting the urge to actually arise, will keep doing this until soreness from lying there like a log appears, and then will get up and head for the bathroom for morning ablutions.  Later, back in the air conditioned room, put on warrior jewelry, get dressed, and head out for a scone and coffee. Continuing to witness thoughts, the body-mind complex goes where it needs to go and does what it needs to do.  At some point, a meal is eaten at a hot food bar in one or another shopping mall.  Then, a return trip is made to the Plumeria Alternative Hostel, for one final internet check for messages in the room, surrounded by images of Krishna, Ganesh, and Durga, plus a shawl emblazoned with the Mahamantram which covers a vibeless painting of palm trees on one wall. Around 9 P.M. it is back in the bed, fingering the black onyx beads and watching dispassionately random thoughts, until sleep.  Our true nature, the “eternal witness”, goes on monitoring through the night, until awakening occurs in the morning. Clearly, the wise will identify with the eternal witness, and not the mundane ego, unless you are crazy and enjoy suffering. Please know that I have abandoned the idea of a “spiritual nomadic direct action group”. It just ain’t happening! Divine interaction will be necessary to realize that on the earth plane. Otherwise, everybody in Hawaii awaits the arrival of Hurricane Hector on Wednesday, and its interaction with the very active volcano on the big island.  ~Mahalo~

Craig Louis Stehr
Honolulu, Hawaii

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ON LINE COMMENT re Prevention of The Big Fires

I’d like to clarify and further the discussion from yesterday’s comment section on how to manage forests to make them more fire resistant. As both the deadliest fires (last October’s firestorms) and two largest fires in CA history have occurred in less than a year, it needs understanding. I have worked on forestry (especially reforestation) and water quality issues since the 70s.

The first and most important thing to understand is that our western forests in no way compare to that which existed before timbering began. The original forests were comprised of trees that were hundreds (fir, pine etc) to thousands (redwood, juniper etc) of years old. These trees were tall and broad with thick bark and no branches close to the forest floor and little understory brush, so no ladder fuels, and able to survive forest fires. What exists now is a hodgepodge of 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation forests that are primarily young trees, 10 to 80 years old and growing too close together with brush and dead branches extending to ground level, and logging slash in the younger forests, all of which are ladder fuels that run the fire up into the trees, or kill them outright. This is why for many years prescribed burns weren’t utilized and forest fires were suppressed. They did too much damage to trees that were meant to survive. Even today with extensive site prep prescribed burns are hard to manage.

We need to get our forests back to a more natural state so we can re-introduce fire without impacting the trees. To do this we need to thin from below, which means taking out a substantial amount of the smaller trees and cutting and masticating brush, removing fuel loading so larger trees will survive a burn. This, however, means managing the forests for non-economic reasons and there lies the rub. There isn’t enough money budgeted to do this and taking out the sellable larger trees is often done instead to pay for costs of so called fuel reduction projects. This is not proper fuel reduction, but a continuation of a vicious cycle, along with clear cutting. Until we allow the forests to begin to take on old growth characteristics, we will continue to have mega fires. There are many other ways to build homes. Stone, stucco, blocks, berming in, packed earth, hempcrete, etc and we need to adopt these for future building. We could also go back to log homes which would utilize the smaller trees removed from thinning operations in the older forests. The important thing is to change how we do things today, the wood frame/sided house, relying on 2x4s and other cut lumber. Conditions require new ideas, new ways of doing things which the building industry refuses to do, once again for economic reasons.

Unfortunately it may be too late. As each year is hotter than any before we have entered into a whole new paradigm. Without a drastic reversal of forest policies, managing the forests for health and fire resistance reasons and not economic ones, and a boat load of money budgeted to accomplish that goal, I see little hope. Current and future fires will continue to burn hot and reset the clock for these forests, killing everything and frying the soil, eventually converting large areas of forest to brush fields. Global warming and fire prone forests are a two headed monster that have created a crisis we desperately need to deal with. Unfortunately our government and industries have put off dealing with these issues for a long time, long before Trump became president, and now under his leadership we are going in the exact opposite direction we need to be going.

This is a simplistic overview of current conditions. I could go into detail about things like the importance of carbon sequestration, keeping carbon on earth and not the atmosphere, another reason for letting forests grow to old age. Each tree is over 50% carbon, and as long as it remains alive that carbon stays here while the tree takes in ever more carbon as it grows. Or habitat issues. Or water quality. The importance of healthy older forests cannot be overstated and this needs to be discussed at the highest levels of governments and corporations. But it won’t be. Sad.

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Sacramento — If your property has been damaged by the recent fires, you may be eligible for property tax relief. In many cases, the damaged property can be reappraised in its current condition, with some taxes refunded to the property owner. Once rebuilt, the property’s pre—damaged value will be restored.

To qualify for property tax relief, you must file a claim with your county assessors’ office <> within 12 months from the date of damage or destruction. The loss estimate must be at least $10,000 of current market value to qualify. Owners of eligible property may also apply for deferral of the next property tax installment on the regular secured roll or tax payments on the supplemental roll, without penalties or interest. The disaster must be the result of a Governor-proclaimed state of emergency <>. When a timely claim for deferral is filed, the next property tax installment payment is deferred without penalty or interest until the county assessor has reassessed the property and a corrected tax bill has been sent to the property owner.

For further information on property tax disaster relief, please see our Disaster Relief <> website.


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