THAT LETHAL FIVE-CAR pile-up on Highway 20 near the Potter Valley turn-off? Captain Randy Johnson of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department kicked it off when he stopped to make a left turn into his private, unmarked driveway across a double yellow line when an oncoming driver rear-ended him, thus setting off a series of collisions resulting in the death of the driver of one of the vehicles involved. It will be interesting to see how the CHP assesses this one. Some lawyer is likely to get rich off the inevitable wrongful death claim.
A READER CLAIMS that the novelist Paul Theroux once said that the New York Times would never print the words “stink” and “maricon.” But, the reader exults, “Now they went and did it,” citing the story in a last week’s Times called “Manhood Challenged, Boxer Unleashed Fatal Barrage, and Lived With Regret,” a kind of obituary for Emile Griffith.
AS A KID, I never missed the televised fights on Wednesday and Saturday nights brought to us by Gillette Blue Blades. I think the fights were among the most popular shows on early television. Carmen Basilio! Jersey Joe Walcott! Sugar Ray Robinson! Jake LaMotta! Rocky Marciano! That was the Golden Age of the sport. I certainly remember the Griffith-Paret fight. Everyone who saw it probably remembers it because Griffith had Paret helpless on the ropes and, as I recall the awful scene, by the time the referee pulled him off Paret, Paret was probably dead. The Times said that Griffith hit Paret 17 times in five seconds, 24 times without a single counterpunch from Paret. Norman Mailer had it perfectly: “The right hand whipping like a piston rod which has broken through the crankcase, or like a baseball bat demolishing a pumpkin.” It seemed to take forever for the ref to react, and by the time he did, Benny “The Kid” Paret was gone; he died a few days later. Paret, during the weigh-in, had called Griffith a “maricon,” the Spanish equivalent of fag, a fatal insult as it developed. Griffith was gay, and always denied he was out to kill Paret, but if you ever see the film of that terrible event (or the excellent documentary from a few years ago which includes the film and the dramatic aftermath, “Ring of Fire”), Griffith, you’ll see, was out for permanent revenge.
DEAR BRUCE, “As you may know, the State of California is in the process of moving all 875,000 Healthy Families children to Medi-Cal in phases. All 1,796 Mendocino children in the Healthy Families Program are scheduled to move this Thursday, August 1. Because their current health plan (Anthem Blue Cross) does not participate in Medi-Cal, children will be enrolled in a new health plan, Partnership Health Plan…” And so on. (Michele Stillwell-Parvensky, “Mendocino County Healthy Families Children Move To Medi-Cal This Thursday”)
DEAR MICHELE, As a senior citizen unknown to you, nor you to me, I’d prefer that you call me Mr. Anderson. It’s only seemly since I’m at least three times your age. As for the 1,796 doomed children of Mendocino County being shunted from one marginal and mostly non-existent healthcare program to another, and with the largest healthcare fraud in human history coming up with ObamaCare, well, what we really need at this point is a revolution if millions of American children are going to have even a longshot chance at a decent life.
THE ART COLLECTOR. Twice last week, a forlorn sixty-ish woman appeared at my Frisco door, suitcases in hand. “Is Mr. Anderson the art collector in?” she asked in a British accent. My wife, suppressing a laugh, said that there was indeed a man by that name living at this address, but he could hardly be described as an “art collector.” The English woman shuffled off into the summer fog. But showed up again the next day to ask my wife, “Do you know of a place I might stay?” She was an apparently respectable person, not, in any obvious way, one of the small army of roving mental cases loose in San Francisco. My wife offered the usual menu of unappealing options: city-run shelters, Glide, and so on, none of them suitable for a person unlikely to do well in tough places with tough people. I would have liked to have known what disaster, or series of disasters, had made the English woman homeless, but with that kind of curiosity also come the existential bogeymen: “If I ask what happened the next step is an obligation to help somehow.” Then come the excuses: “I’m a person of ordinary means. My place is barely big enough for me and the little woman. We couldn’t possibly take on another person. The government’s supposed to help out. Where is it?” The government, of course, has abdicated, and charity is stretched to the limit. There’s not only no room at the inn, there’s no inn.
ANYBODY who walks around the city can’t help but see that there are lots of people living as they can, often in their vehicles, ashamed of their circumstances but still trying to lift themselves up and out. And every day we’re told by the television hairdoos that the “Economy has turned the corner. The recovery is weak but we’re headed in the right direction.” If a downward plummet is the right direction, we’re on the way. No doubt about it.
THE ENGLISH WOMAN hasn’t returned. I have no idea how she got onto me, but we’re still thinking about her a week later. That kind of thing is unsettling, isn’t it? Her odd visit got me wondering if my art collection added up to anything grand enough to be called a collection. I’ve got a few paintings by friends, a Crumb miniature of Devil Girl, some old commie prints, and a World War Two artifact I bought years ago at a Ukiah garage sale. In a time of dire need a few years ago, one of many over a long, impecunious life, I took this object to an appraiser. He offered an on-the-spot grand for it. “A one-of-a-kinder,” the appraiser said, “and very nicely done.” Which caused me to keep it. My aesthetic had been officially validated!
YOU’D HAVE TO SEE this thing to appreciate it, but the instant I spotted it in that Ukiah backyard with a twenty dollar price tag on it I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I pounced. The garage saler was an elderly woman who explained that her late husband had served in the occupation of Japan immediately after World War Two. He’d brought it home with him from Yokohama. Judging from the other art she had on sale, she was heavy into unicorns and chipmunk paintings which, come to think of it, do seem ubiquitous art forms in our County seat. I remember her saying, “I never liked the thing. I made him hang it out in the garage.” I look at it all the time, and it endlessly rewards my attention because it’s so intricately done, so sad in its desperate tribute to Japan’s conquerors. I imagine the old Ukiah guy making a special trip out to his garage to gaze at his prize, geisha memories warming him all the years after the biggest events of his life.
SO, BIG BOY, what are we talking about here? We’re talking about a tableau recreating the appearance of a triumphant American destroyer in Yokahama harbor set in a mahogany frame that was probably once home to some other iconic item. It’s about six inches deep, two feet long, a foot high. The frame is embossed with Japanese characters which remain untranslated. Inside the frame is a plastic mini-replica of a destroyer with gray human hair serving as smokestack smoke, behind which the artist has meticulously painted in bright colors his hillside home town and, beyond, Mount Fuji. The whole of it is vaguely reminiscent of Grandma Moses and some Haitian street art I’ve seen. The Japanese, like the Germans, eked out existences as best they could in those first grim years after the war their leaders brought on, and I’ve always assumed my prized possession was made by a man surviving however he could.
JENNIFER POOLE WRITES: “In ‘Forest fire smoke here to stay,’ a story posted on the Klamath Falls newspaper website this afternoon, an Oregon metereologist is quoted as saying: “Smoke is not an easy thing to forecast, but you should bet that a lot of the rest of the summer will be smokey across Southern Oregon and Northern California.” Smoke from the Southern Oregon fires is heavy because it’s burning in heavily forested areas…. Thanks to Sheriff Allman and to Lake County News for their posts.”
TAX SHARING: UKIAH VS. THE COUNTY (Only the most intrepid will dare try to make sense of all this, but here it is.)
THE DRAFT LETTER inviting DDR to develop the old Masonite site with a Costco big box store on this Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors agenda has caused quite a stir and is bouncing around Ukiah like a beach ball. Here’s a collection of comments posted on Monday concluded by Supervisor John McCowen.
Tuesday, Timed agenda item: 9:10am: Approval of Letter to Northwest Atlantic (Real Estate Services) and DDR Corp. to Facilitate a Meeting to Revisit the DDR Property as a Potential Site for a New Retail Store
6. Board of Supervisors And Miscellaneous
(a) Supervisors’ Reports Regarding Board Special Assignments, Standing and Ad Hoc Committee Meetings, and Other Items of General Interest
(b) Approval of Letter to Northwest Atlantic (Real Estate Services) and DDR Corp. to Facilitate a Meeting to Revisit the DDR Property as a Potential Site for a New Retail Store (Sponsor: Supervisor Pinches)
Recommended Action/Motion: Approve the letter to Northwest Atlantic (Real Estate Services) and DDR Corp.’s Development Division to arrange a meeting between the two parties and the County to revisit the potential use of the DDR property as a location for a new retail store.
MARY ANNE MILLER WRITES:
Does anyone understand what game is being played here? The County now wants Costco in the DDR property? What about the City Of Ukiah that has been plugging along trying to put a big box store on their property in the Airport industrial park? I thought an EIR was about to be published (August) on Costco on the property that the Council purchased for that express purpose. Looks like some kind of a “con” game that’s beyond bizarre. Or am I just too unconnected to get it? Please explain if you have a clue.
JOE LOUIS WILDMAN WRITES:
I oppose this but the city staff is screwing up a reasonable tax sharing agreement and this is fall-out.
SUPERVISOR JOHN MCCOWEN WRITES:
The letter in question has been placed on the agenda at the request of Supervisor Pinches, who, like any Supervisor, has a right to agendize items for discussion. I do not support sending the letter, for several reasons, but I do agree with Joe Louis Wildman, who has succinctly summed up what is really going on here: “…the city [is not moving forward with] a reasonable tax sharing agreement and this is the fallout.”
Instead of showing up at 9am Tuesday to berate the Board of Supervisors, people who are concerned with the future of land use planning in the Ukiah Valley should show up at the Ukiah City Council special meeting on Monday, July 29th at 5:30pm for the Tax Sharing Workshop and encourage the City to reach an equitable tax sharing agreement with the County. The city simply can not insist on keeping the lion’s share of future revenue to itself and also expect that the county will sit on the sidelines indefinitely and make no effort to compete for future sales tax revenue.
During the Ukiah Valley Area Plan process the Board of Supervisors made several key decisions regarding Land Use Map Changes for the Ukiah Valley. The Board voted to retain industrial zoning at the Masonite site; retain agricultural zoning at Lover’s Lane; and zone the Brush Street Triangle for mixed use. These decisions were consistent in every respect with the recommendations of the Ukiah City Council. These decisions were also predicated on the understanding that it was a necessity for the city and county to agree on an equitable tax sharing agreement.
A tax sharing agreement is necessary so that the county is not penalized for upholding the principle that urban scale development, where feasible, should take place within the city limits. The City and County have been in the process of negotiating a tax sharing agreement for several years. When it looked like Costco would go in at Masonite (which truly was their preferred location) the City was very eager to negotiate a tax sharing agreement. Now that Costco is slated to locate inside the city limits, there does not seem to be any sense of urgency by the City to reach an agreement. But reaching a tax sharing agreement is arguably the only viable way to lock in the current land use policies of the County, which are subject to change by three votes. I do not think there are three votes now, but if the City sticks to its current position on tax sharing, it is only a matter of time. And that time may come sooner rather than later.
The City and County ad hoc committees for tax sharing last met on December 17 along with legal and administrative staff. The County went into the meeting intending to resolve the one remaining sticking point, the “make whole” concept, which was intended to insure that one jurisdiction would not drop below the agreed upon “base year” revenue. At that meeting, the City backed away from four additional major points that had been under agreement for as long as six years, including:
1) that a master tax sharing agreement was preferred;
2) that the area subject to sharing would be the UVAP planning area — instead of Brush Street Triangle only, Costco only, or freeway commercial areas only, which were ideas tossed out by the City on Dec. 17;
3) that the agreement would apply to all new or increased revenue above the agreed upon base year, whether from new or existing sources;
4) that the formula for sharing would be 50-50 (with a separate agreement for Costco).
Much to the consternation of the county participants, at the end of the Dec. 17 meeting, we no longer had agreement on the geographical area to which the agreement applied; the revenue to which it applied; the formula to be applied; or even that we were negotiating a master tax sharing agreement. It was agreed that city and county staff would continue to talk and that the City would propose new scenarios and/or formulas for the County to consider. It wasn’t until after the meeting that the realization fully sank in that the draft agreement that we had been working on for so long had just been shredded. That, along with Kendall Smith’s retirement, is why the County disbanded its ad hoc committee for tax sharing when the County met the next day on Dec. 18.
Except for publishing the agenda for the July 29th Tax Sharing Workshop, city staff has not proposed new scenarios or formulas for the County to consider, nor has the City provided any financial analysis or projections.
Fortunately, based on the agenda materials for July 29th, the City is now back to supporting a master tax sharing agreement — which the full City Council has unanimously endorsed at least three times. The City is also back to supporting the UVAP planning area as the geographical basis for the agreement, something that has also been generally agreed to since at least 2006, and formally agreed to in 2010, after extensive review and discussion by the city and county ad hoc committees.
Unfortunately, the City proposes to move away from the commitment to share all increased revenue, whether from new or existing sources, which is a concept that the ad hoc committees have agreed to since at least 2006. This is important, because the day Costco opens its doors on Airport Park Blvd, there will be a boost in sales tax for every store in that area. There may also be a corresponding decline in county areas. The County must not be penalized for adopting land use policies that shift the commercial and retail center of gravity solidly in favor of the City. Therefore, equitable sharing of sales tax revenue must include net increased revenue from existing, as well as new stores.
Equally unfortunately, the City proposes to back away from the 50-50 formula for sharing which has been agreed to by the ad hocs since December of 2008. The major tentative points of agreement by the ad hoc committees, including the 50-50 formula, which the City now proposes to abandon, have been reported to the full City Council and Board of Supervisors on a number of occasions. I can tell you it is a non-starter to go to the Board of Supervisors and seek approval for a 40-60 formula when 50-50 has been on the table since 2008, especially when you consider the sweetheart nature of the “Costco Addendum.”
The Costco Addendum, as agreed to by the ad hocs, would reimburse the City for the cost of improvements needed to attract Costco, currently estimated at $6 million dollars. The County ad hoc has agreed that the City would receive 100% of the Costco sales tax revenue until the cost of improvements is repaid. The City has estimated that it will take from 9-14 years to recoup $6 million dollars. In addition, the County ad hoc has agreed that if the City is able to use non-General Fund money to pay for the improvements, that the City would be able to recover an additional 50% of the cost of improvements by retaining additional Costco sales tax revenue upfront. Therefore, assuming $6 million dollars for the cost of improvements, if the City is able to use the proceeds from the bonds that it sold, the draft agreement would guarantee that 100% of the first $9 million dollars in Costco revenue would go to the City, which could mean that it would be 13.5-21 years before the County would see a dime of Costco revenue. In addition, after the agreed upon cost of improvements is paid ($6-$9million dollars) there would be a five year phase in before the County receives a 50-50 share of Costco revenue. This is the agreement that city staff says disadvantages the city.
The “draft agreement” which is included as an attachment for the July 29th workshop is a draft prepared by the city attorney and has not been considered or agreed to by the county ad hoc committee. Also, it is not true, as stated in the agenda materials, that the draft under discussion includes sharing of existing revenue. That has never been part of the discussion, at least going back to 2005 when the current effort to reach agreement began. The discussion has always been about sharing future increases in revenue that no one is getting now. In the big picture, the City is not being asked to share its revenue, but to agree to an equitable split of future increased revenue generated in the Ukiah Valley; revenue that is now being funneled into the City based on the land use decisions of the Board of Supervisors.
In short, the Board of Supervisors has kept its part of the bargain. The message to the City Council on July 29th should be to go back to the table and negotiate an equitable tax sharing agreement. The alternative is to jeopardize the current land use zoning and priorities that have been adopted by the Board of Supervisors. — John McCowen
SPORTS TALK PART III
To the Editor:
Paul McCarthy over here on the coast at MendocinoSportsPlus (MSP). First of all, even the most casual viewer of MSP would have to be mentally unbalanced to think we “represent” the Mendocino Unified School District in any of our posts. Any more than we “represent” the Coast Guard when we report maritime traffic, Caltrans or Calfire when we report on road conditions/wild land fires, PG&E when we report power outages or the CHP/Mendocino Sheriff’s office when we run their press releases. But, knowing this county from living here going on 19 years, we have, for everyone to see, the following disclaimer just so there can’t be the slightest confusion:
“…this site is not affiliated in any way, shape or form with the Mendocino Unified School District (MUSD) and MSP’s commentary/opinion should never be construed as having ANY connection with that of the MUSD.” I find it difficult to make the point any clearer than that. MSP was started a year and a half ago. Its success rests upon the fact we’re a fresh alternative news/sports diet to the weekly steaming bowl of boredom served up by the Mendocino Beacon. While I do most of the “heavy lifting” here, and some times dish out my opinion, MSP is a collaborative enterprise. Emailers & non-public Facebook “messages” frequently point us in interesting directions. For example MSP announced what cold homicide case was going to be announced as “solved” by the sheriff’s office — a full day before the press conference. But for sports, I’m the “boots on the ground” and I don’t think anyone in this county could come close to matching my attendance at every sport in the North Coast League III (both home & away) since MSP’s inception. I don’t have to shape my commentary, or butt-kiss athletic directors, principals & superintendents to keep my job.
With that said, it was somewhat distressing and I’m highly & rightfully incensed to see a coach I greatly admire, Jim Young, continue to pass along the outright lie MSP called the Point Arena team “pussies.” Particularly when I emailed him the post in question last December when he first brought it up.
What MSP wrote was it was “demoting” the “Pirates” to “Pussycats” for forfeiting a varsity game to Mendocino. Big difference — and it takes quite a bit of the sting away from the statement. As I told coach Young in the email, MSP has banned “people from the site for using the word ‘pussy’ in the way you infer I did” and added “ other teams in the league are used to Mendo’s ‘sensitivity’ and play on it like a piano…” So, for the record, it was substituting “Pussycats” for “Pirates” — an alliterative goof.
Now on to other matters, Coach Young states I have no connection “whatsoever” with Mendocino sports. Huh? I’ve been a proud member of “Club Cardinal” (which supports all Mendo high school sports teams) for the past six years and remain so even though my son graduated. My devotion to the football team, of which my son was a member, will never wane and while I don’t see Coach Young’s name on any championship plaque in the Mendo high school trophy case, he can view mine.
And I didn’t just accuse Laytonville of running up football scores — I declared it. Rushing for two-point conversions while leading 74-0 (eventually beating hapless Round Valley 86-12) is the height of poor sportsmanship — and don’t forget the 72-0 pasting they delivered to Anderson Valley or the 55-0 defeat of Point Arena. Hall of Fame coach (Chautauqua, NY) Young then goes on to say I attacked Anderson Valley AD Robert Pinoli twice!
Believe me, coach Young would know if I attacked him as I would have used something similar to what AA Cohen used describing railroad baron Charles Crocker: (he’s a) “living, breathing, waddling monument of the triumph of vulgarity, viciousness and dishonesty” or my favorite Charles Adams quote: he’s a “ill-mannered bully, and by all odds the most covertly and dangerously corrupt man I ever had the opportunity and occasion carefully to observe in public life.” So, no, I never attacked him. AD Pinoli arbitrarily (and illegally) started a running clock before half time in the Mendocino-AV game last fall. It can only be started after the third quarter unless the coaches are consulted. The Mendo coaches, of course, would have agreed but they were never asked.
I called AD Pinoli on it, notified the league and wrote about it. That’s NOT an attack. Those are facts. If AD Pinoli, who is supposed to be the “acting” commissioner of the NCL III, was correct why did he apologize for his faux pas after the game?
Ditto questioning “possible” illegal practices. The high school principal, it turns out, has to ok practices before the official start date. AV didn’t have an on site principal, I believe, when the soccer practices started. Was the new principal asked? Can’t tell you — thus our questioning of how they were “getting away” with it.
And since when was coach Young appointed “Chief Apologist” for the Mendo school district? That’s a knee-slapper. Laytonville High School does look like the sheriff’s lock-up at Low Gap Road — just add a couple strands of concertina wire and it’d be a clone when viewed from Branscomb Road. There was much “give-and-go” at MSP with Laytonville sports fans over my unflattering description (were they trying to keep people in or out?), but it was eventually revealed the architect’s specialty WAS designing minimum security facilities. I helpfully suggested they plant climbing ivy or vines to soften the harshness of the chain-link surrounding the lock-up, I mean campus.
And I’d like to know if coach Young has such a “thick skin from multiple years in youth sports” (his words) why is he running around Mendocino County apologizing for my opinions? Coach Young goes on about the MUSD high school administration being on “the receiving end of abuse” from MSP. How in the wide, wide world of sports can we be perceived as “representing” the MUSD if we’re attacking it all the time? You can’t have it both ways coach.
MSP is an independent voice of social media on the coast. As I explained to the coach: “The only thing I represent is my own self-interest.” The Press Democrat has referred to me (charitably) as a “Mendocino sports historian,” but I’ll be the first to admit I have a lot to learn. Like who was the Mendocino high school athletic director that allowed an ineligible player play on (two) sports teams that cost the high school the 2006 football championship and the forfeit of their season? So, in conclusion, everyone but an idiot knows MSP isn’t the voice of the Mendocino school district, MSP called Point Arena Pussycats not Pussies and MSP will continue to “call ‘em the way we see ‘em” regardless (and despite) apologies that are unnecessary, unneeded and unwanted.
Paul McCarthy, Elk
by James Howard Kunstler
The idea that techno-industrial society is headed toward a collapse has become very unpopular the last couple of years. Thoughts (and fears) about it have been replaced by a kind of grand redemption fantasy that bears the same relation to economics that masturbation has to pornography. One way to sum up the current psychological state of the nation is that an awful lot of people who ought to know better don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground anymore. We’re witnessing the implosion of the American hive mind.
This is what comes of divorcing truth from reality, and that process is exactly what you get in the effort to replace authentic economic activity with accounting fraud and propaganda. For five years, the Federal Reserve has been trying to offset a permanent and necessary contraction of techno-industrialism by lobbing mortar rounds of so-called “money” into its crony “primary dealer” banks in order to fuel interest rate carry trades that produce an echo in the stock markets. An echo, let us be clear, is the ghost of something, not the thing itself — in this case: value.
The permanent contraction of techno-industrialism is necessary because the main fuel for running it has become scarcer and rather expensive, too expensive really to run the infrastructure of the United States. That infrastructure cannot be replaced now without a great deal of capital sacrifice. Paul Krugman — whom other observers unironically call Dr. Paul Krugman, conferring shamanic powers on him — wrote a supremely stupid op-ed in The New York Times today (“Stranded by Sprawl”), as though he had only noticed over the past week that the favored development pattern of our country has had adverse economic consequences. Gosh, ya think?
Meanwhile, the public has been sold a story by nervous and wishful upholders of the status quo that we have no problem with our primary resource due to the shale oil and shale gas bonanzas that would make us “energy independent” and “the world’s leading oil exporter — Saudi America!” A related story along these lines is the imminent “American industrial renaissance.” What they leave out is that, if actually true, it would be a renaissance of robots, leaving the former (and long ago) well-paid American working class to stew in its patrimony of methadrine, incest, and tattoo “art.”
To put it as simply as possible, the main task before this society is to change the way we live. The necessary changes are so severe and represent so much loss of previous investment that we can’t bring ourselves to think about it. For instance, both the suburbs and the big cities are toast. The destiny of the suburbs is to become slums, salvage yards, and ruins. The destiny of the big cities is to become Detroit — though most of America’s big cities (Atlanta, Houston) are hybrid monstrosities of suburbs and cities, and they will suffer the most. It is not recognized by economic poobahs such as Dr. Krugman and Thomas Friedman that the principal economic activity of Dixieland the past half century was the manufacture of suburban sprawl and now that the endeavor is over, the result can be seen in the millions of unemployed Ford F-110 owners drinking themselves into an incipient political fury.
Then where will the people live? They will live in smaller cities and cities that succeed in downsizing sharply and in America’s currently neglected and desolate small towns and upon a landscape drastically refitted for a post-techo-industrial life that is as far removed from a Ray Kurzweil “Singularity” fantasy as the idea of civic virtue is removed from Lawrence Summers. The people will live in places with a meaningful relationship to food production.
Many of those aforementioned swindled, misled, and debauched lumpen folk (having finally sold off their Ford-F110s) will eventually see their prospects migrate back into the realm of agriculture, or at least their surviving progeny will, as the sugar-tit of federal benefits melts away to zero, and by then the population will be much lower. These days, surely, the idea of physical labor in the sorghum rows is abhorrent to a 325-pound food-stamp recipient lounging in an air-conditioned trailer engrossed in the televised adventures of Kim Kardashian and her celebrated vagina while feasting on a KFC 10-piece bundle and a 32 oz Mountain Dew. But the hypothetical grand-kids might have to adopt a different view after the last air-conditioner sputters to extinction, and fire-ants have eaten through the particle-board floor of the trailer, and all the magical KFC products recede into the misty past where Jenny Lind rubs elbows with the Knights of the Round Table . Perhaps I wax a little hyperbolic, but you get the idea: subsistence is the real deal-to-come, and it will be literally a harder row to hoe than the current conception of “poverty.”
Somewhere beyond this mannerist picture of the current cultural depravity is the glimmer of an idea of people behaving better and spending their waking lives at things worth doing (and worthy of their human-ness), but that re-enchantment of daily life awaits a rather harsh work-out of the reigning deformations. I will go so far to predict that the recent national mood of wishful fantasy is running out of gas and that a more fatalistic view of our manifold predicaments will take its place in a few months. It would at least signal a rapprochment of truth with reality.
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL with Gerald Ford in 1976, Ford handed the late premier DC reporter Helen Thomas a card from a fortune-telling scale the president had obtained which said, “You are a brilliant leader.” Thomas glanced at the card and cracked, “It got your weight wrong, too.”
MASSIVE LOSS OF ENDANGERED WINTER RUN SALMON (from: “Dan Bacher” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Below and attached is a CSPA press release about the massive loss of endangered Sacramento River winter run salmon in irrigation ditches this year. Now the survivors face being hammered by the mismanagement of cold water releases from Shasta Dam. Hal Bonslett, the late Fish Sniffer publisher and founder, and I spent many hours going to meetings and writing articles in the late 1980s about the urgent need to list the winter run Chinook under the Endangered Species Act. Here we are over two decades later watching the state and federal agencies imperiling the once huge run of winter run Chinook again!
* * *
Massive Loss of Endangered Winter Run Salmon
by Bill Jennings, Executive Director, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance
Perhaps half of this year’s spawning class die in irrigation ditches: survivors hammered by mismanagement of Shasta cold water reserves
During April, May and early June, large numbers of endangered winter- run Chinook salmon and other species were drawn into channels in the Yolo Bypass and Colusa Basin and died, according to reports by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and National Marine Fisheries Service biologists (NMFS). The total number of stranded fish is unknown but agency biologists said it could be as high as half of this year’s returning population of winter-run. This tragedy is exacerbated by high temperature stress on spawning winter- run caused by mismanagement of limited cold water pools in Shasta Reservoir this year.
State and federal fish agencies have known and documented for almost two decades that up-migrating endangered and threatened fish on the Sacramento River, including winter-run, spring-run Chinook salmon, steelhead and green sturgeon are drawn into the irrigation and drainage waterways of the Yolo Bypass and Colusa Basin from which there is no exit and are trapped. Excepting sporadic rescue efforts, little has been done to address this longstanding problem.
This is an indefensible failure to protect species hovering on the brink of extinction. The fact that our fishery agencies have long been aware of this problem but done little to correct it is appalling and borders on criminal culpability, especially, when there are obvious and workable solutions.
Large numbers of salmon were identified in the maze of creeks and canals in the Colusa basin west of the Sacramento River. More than 300 fish were rescued from Hunter, North Fork Logan and Stone Corral Creeks, Colusa Trough and Delevan National Wildlife Refuge and returned to the Sacramento River. Because of their degraded condition, there was concern that these fish would not successfully spawn. Stranded salmon were also observed in other creeks, including Willow and Funks Creeks, the main stem of Logan Creek, Provident Main Canal and the North East Drain but no rescues were attempted. Members of the public reported salmon at other locations but CDFW staff were not able to get around to them.
It’s a recurring problem. For example, in 2011, NMFS biologists rescued more than 200 listed green sturgeon, spring-run Chinook salmon and steelhead trout from the Yolo and Sutter bypasses. Many others were not rescued and perished.
“Measures to address stranding in the bypass were proposed by the Anadromous Fisheries Restoration Program in 1995, by the CalFed Record of Decision in 2000 and by the NMFS OCAP Biological Opinion in 2009, among others, and all we have is yet another proposal for a band aid solution they hope might be in place by 2017,” said Jennings, adding “winter-run salmon may be cavorting with passenger pigeons by then.”
Winter-run salmon have been hard hit with a double whammy this year. The State Water Resource Control Board recently gave the Bureau of Reclamation permission to move the temperature compliance point for Shasta cold-water releases on the Sacramento River from Red Bluff upstream to Anderson, eliminating 10 miles of the 20 miles of available spawning habitat for winter-run salmon. Beginning in September and October, Spawning fall-run and threatened spring-run salmon will also be hammered by high temperatures. The cold-water pool behind Shasta Dam has been seriously depleted by demands to export water to south-of-Delta farmers. Water exports are averaging more than 17,400 AF daily.
Historically, more than 200,000 adult winter-run salmon returned up the Sacramento to spawn and numbered more than 117,000 as recently as 1969. Shasta Dam eliminated the majority of historical spawning habitat and their numbers plummeted to around 200 fish by 1991. They were listed as endangered in 1994. Adult winter-run salmon numbered 1,533 fish in 2010, increasing slightly to 2,529 in 2012.
Runoff from a million acres of farmland in the west Sacramento Valley drains into the Colusa Basin Drain. Augmented by rainfall, this water either discharges into the Sacramento River at Knights Landing or it flows via the Knights Landing Ridge Cut into the Yolo Bypass and ultimately discharges into Cache Slough and the Delta. Up- migrating fish that are attracted into the Bypass and Colusa Basin are stranded and perish because there is no exit.
CSPA’s fisheries consultants believe it is necessary to establish screens or barriers that will prevent up-migrating salmon from entering the Toe Drain and/or Colusa Drain during critical migration periods. During high flow events when Sacramento water is spilling at Fremont Weir into the Yolo Bypass, a conveyance system must be constructed to enable fish to cross Fremont Weir back into the river. At all times, salmonids, sturgeon and steelhead must be prevented from entering Ridge Cut into the Colusa Basin.
Similar problems exist on the eastside of the Sacramento at the Moulton, Colusa and Tisdale weirs in the Sutter-Butte Basin where fish were also reported stranded this year but no rescues were attempted.
Further information on the problem, this year’s rescue operations and source material on the agencies’ long-existing awareness of the problem can be found at: www.calsport.org.
CALIFORNIA PRISON HUNGER STRIKE
An Open Letter to Jerry Brown: Stop the Torture of Solitary Confinement
by Carole Travis
Monday, July 29, 2013. Today marks the first day of the 4th week of the California Prison Hunger Strike. On July 8 when the prisoners began their hunger strike to call attention to this torture, 30,000 inmates across California stopped eating. Saturday morning we learned that Billy Michael Sell housed in the Corcoran SHU (Solitary Housing Unit) died last Monday. Today over 600 men have only had water for 22 days. They protest their long-term torture. California is one of 19 states that use long term, often indefinite, solitary confinement and by far and away has the largest numbers of prisoners in solitary — over 10,000.
Prisoners are not sentenced to solitary for their street crime. Prison officials assign them to this crushing isolation without due process, without review of the evidence against them, without legal representation or an impartial hearing. The deciding agency is made up of prison guards who have risen in the ranks through time. At Pelican Bay, California’s super max, the men who decide the fate of the prisoners are white and have lived their lives in Crescent City with a population of around 9,000 people 15 miles south of the Oregon border. They believe they understand the culture of the prisoners, largely from major urban areas and communities of color because they have studied them in their cages for years. As a result of the July 2011 hunger strike there has been an impartial review panel deciding if those in solitary belong there. The panel found 68% of the prisoners they reviewed should be immediately transferred out of solitary into the General Prison Population.
The August (2013) issue of Scientific American highlights the ineffectiveness of solitary confinement to reduce crime in prison. It does have the capacity to induce or exacerbate mental illness. The practice is deemed cruel, inhumane, and ineffective. As the editors point out, “new research suggests that solitary confinement creates more violence both inside and outside prison walls.” (p.10). Mr. Juan Mendez, Special Rapporteur on torture defines 15 days in solitary confinement as torture.
We are compelled to write this Open Letter to Governor Brown to step in and stop the torture. We ask you to join us and sign our letter <http://www.stoptortureca.org/take-action/open-letter-to-governor-brown/> .
(Carole Travis is an Attorney, activist, and former president of United Auto Workers Local 719)
LEARN TO PAINT, PAINT TO LEARN:
Zornes retrospective honors a century’s dedication to art and life
by Roberta Werdinger
On Saturday, August 10, from 2 to 4:30 pm, the Grace Hudson Museum will host an opening reception and lecture for the exhibit “Milford Zornes: A Painter of Influence.” This retrospective of the long-lived watercolorist and beloved teacher includes many heretofore unseen paintings. Zornes’s daughter and son-in-law, Maria and Hal Baker, curated the exhibit along with Museum Curator Marvin Schenck, and will host this presentation of the life and art of this extraordinary creative force, whose career spanned nine decades and covered the globe. The lecture begins at 2 pm.
Milford Zornes (1908-2008) was born in Oklahoma and studied art in the Los Angeles area. He began producing and exhibiting watercolors at an early age, with one of his paintings chosen to hang in the White House of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Drafted into the army during World War II, he traveled to Asia and worked as an official war artist. After the war, he settled in Southern California and resumed a vigorous schedule of traveling, teaching, painting, and exhibiting. He eventually combined these interests by teaching a series of international watercolor workshops that brought him to almost every continent in the world and put him in touch with thousands of art students, many of whom he influenced profoundly.
Zornes is a case study on how art and life are intimately fused. Launching his career during the Great Depression, he used watercolors due to their inexpensive cost, practicality, and wide appeal. Although his career included many honors and successes, including membership in the National Academy, he never failed to give his many students his complete attention. Artist and author Carolyn Wing Greenlee, who first studied with Zornes as a teenager in 1966 and credits him with helping to launch her own career, remembers: “First Milford pointed out the strengths of the work, then explained how it could be improved, speaking truth with great kindness.” She adds, “Since Milford wanted everyone to be able to afford a piece of original art, he kept his prices low, and painted prodigiously. It was not a chore for him, because he was always striving to paint the perfect picture.” He once commented, “You learn to paint and then you paint to learn.” In his later life, he suffered from macular degeneration, an eye condition, but kept on working, employing techniques that enabled him to make out outlines and fill them in. The day after his 100th birthday, he gave a demonstration and lecture at an art museum. He died less than a month later.
The exhibit, which includes video clips and quotations, gives us a sense of just how vast this painter’s influence is. Zornes’s travels provided him with an endless variety of subject matter, both human and natural, which were transformed by a bold yet lyrical technique. Curator Marvin Schenck comments, “His rhythmic, direct, simplified style of brushwork remains an important influence on watercolorists,” and also helped promote the California Style watercolor movement. Rather than outlining a figure in pencil and then filling in the color, Zornes laid transparent washes of watercolor directly onto large sheets of paper, allowing the white spaces to show through. The paintings have the brilliant colors and blocky shapes of early Expressionist paintings, but with none of the sometimes harsh social criticism of those of that era. Instead, they betray a gentleness and regard for both people and landscapes, while still portraying them honestly. The result is a feast for the eyes as well as the soul, energetic and celebratory, with a democratic view of life worthy of Walt Whitman. As Carolyn Greenlee again puts it, “Milford preferred no limitations of classification or expectation in style, subject or medium. He wanted to be remembered as Milford Zornes, the painter, and he relentlessly traveled the world, filling his eyes and paintings with whatever he found.”
“Milford Zornes: A Painter of Influence” will be on display until October 13, 2013. The opening reception and lecture is free after Museum admission. Several other activities will be featured, including a docent and member tour with Curator Marvin Schenck on August 20, a watercolor workshop for kids on August 24 and Sept. 28, and a watercolor workshop with Sacramento painter Woody Hansen on Sept. 7 and 8. Funding of this exhibition was made possible by the Sun House Guild.
The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah and is a part of the City of Ukiah’s Community Services Department. General admission to the Museum is $4, $10 per family, $3 for students and seniors, and free to members or on the first Friday of the month. For more information please go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org or call 467-2836.