THERE ARE SOME big weekends in Boonville — fair time, rastafest, the annual beer party, a variety of wine events, and so on. But the first weekend in December is right up there with the rest, what with the 56th annual Redwood Classic Basketball Tournament and the Unity Club’s Holiday Bazaar in the Apple Hall. The basketball can be quite good with strong teams from Hoopa, Cloverdale and that Bay Area powerhouse, Branson, once upon a time an exclusive girl’s school among whose graduates was Julia Child, the famous chef. Branson, based in the posh community of Ross in Marin, went co-ed some time ago, and then began handing out scholarships to kids who just happened to combine scholarly aptitudes with superior basketball abilities. So then, you can take in some hoops then dribble yourself on down to the Apple Hall for the Unity Club’s bazaar which offers a startling variety of homemade goods, edible and decorative, perfect as Christmas gifts.


The 56th annual Redwood Classic Basketball Tournament is set to kick off the new season December 4th, 5th, 6th & 7th at the Anderson Valley High School gym in Boonville. The Redwood Classic is oldest and largest small school tournament in California. We will once again have an interesting and competitive field. Local teams invited include: Anderson Valley, Mendocino, Point Arena, St. Vincent, Cloverdale, and Laytonville. The traveling teams invited are: Branson, Tulelake, Valley Christian-Roseville, Bentley, Bradshaw Chris­tian, Hoopa, California School for the Deaf, Stuart Hall, Marin Academy & Pinewood. The tournament begins at 3:30pm, Wednesday, December 4th; four days and 25 games later the champion will be crowned. Single day ticket prices are – adults $5, students and senior citizens $3, and souvenir programs $5.

— Mayte Guerrero – Student Tournament Director


THE ARCTIC chill that set in Tuesday morning makes the nighttime Christmas lights illuminating so many Boonville homes somehow more necessary, their coruscating splashes of vivid colors against the dark lifting the spirits of us all.


A NICE LADY called Tuesday morning. Yes, we do get calls from not-so-nice ladies, but civility is the norm as it was in this case. The nice lady was looking for information on the “Velvet Sisters,” after whom her Hartford Court Winery has named a pinot noir made from grapes grown near Navarro. She wondered if I might know of the real Velvet Sisters of Anderson Valley, of whom vague memories whisper down through the mists of time in a reference to local women, circa World War One, who came back from a trip to British Columbia clad in expensive velvet dresses. Given the isolation of the Anderson Valley in the early 20th century, the slightest departure from the ordinary, especially as it occurred with women, instantly became big local news. I thought perhaps the Velvet Sisters could have been of more recent vintage, stylish hippies maybe. So I did a quick poll and found that there’s a new cheese at Pennyroyal Farms called “The Velvet Sisters,” and several respondents said the term rang faint bells, all of them musical. No one was able to identify women who went by The Velvet Sisters. But the thought of three 1910 Anderson Valley farm girls freeing themselves from their daily rural drudgery for a romantic journey to far away Vancouver is the most satisfying.


THE DEMOCRAT APPARAT, NorCal Division, of Huffman Feinstein, Boxer, Thompson and several other office-holding enemies of hope, have group-signed a press release that begins, “Drug trafficking organizations… are making forests and open spaces unsafe for working and recreation. We urge you to consider the significant impacts of drug cultivation operations on public and trespassed lands throughout the country and add new emphasis to countering the environmental damages of drug production.” And so on straight from their press release hearts. Huffman et al want to “direct the US Sentencing Commission” to increase prison time for persons found to be doing “environmental harm during trespass marijuana operations.”

THE OFFICEHOLDERS CLAIM, accurately, “In 2012, nearly one million marijuana plants were eradicated from 471 sites on National Forest lands found in 20 states across the country. The operators of these illegal grow operations frequently level hilltops, starting landslides on erosion-prone hillsides, divert and dam creeks and streams, and use excessive pesticides to protect their crop. A single 2011 law enforcement operation in Mendocino National Forest located 56 marijuana cultivation sites and removed 23 tons of trash, over a ton of fertilizer, 57 pounds of pesticides and herbicides, 22 miles of irrigation piping, and 13 man-made dams…”

SO, WHAT TO DO? An on-line comment re Huffman’s grow initiative: “Jail time isn’t the answer, Friend. Increased mandatory sentencing for possession, manufacture, and sales have done exactly ZIP to reduce drug-related crime in this country. About the only thing such measures have done is increase prison overcrowding and enrich for-profit penitentiaries. If we really want to hurt these individuals, go after their money — every last cent that can be even remotely associated with their illegal grows. Confiscate their equipment, their vehicles, their homes. Everything they own, down to the backpacks on their scrawny backs. Then branch out and go after those they know — relatives, friends, everyone. If you can’t prove that what you have hasn’t been purchased with illegally earned drug money, it’s gone. Impoverish the bastards and instead of such monies being turned over to local law enforcement for shit like military style ordnance, use the money to clean up these grow sites. I’m sick of our elected officials enacting this kind of legislation — laws that do nothing to actually address the problem. It sounds good on the evening news and gets a cheer from an ignorant electorate, but it doesn’t do a thing to change the behaviors. Go after these assholes’ pocketbooks. Then they might actually think twice and realize that it’s not worth the trouble when the Feds come confiscate everything down to their Tevas.”

OF ALL THE PEOPLE ARRESTED at the grows in the Mendocino National Forest, and as I recall we’re talking two or three people, how many were prosecuted? Maybe one, and I think one guy was deported, meaning he’s already back and growing wherever. Few to none of the Mendo Forest miscreants were even identified with anything like reasonable certainty. Locating the money, even with the total government surveillance we now apparently live with, asset seizure is impossible even if the multitude of police agencies co-dependent with the dope industry had the will and the capacity to do it. If you think press release threats to increase sentences will stop a single grower, you probably vote for Democrats. Don’t want to sound glib about it because big grows, trespass and non-trespass, are doing huge environmental harm to the Mendo outback, but maybe this is a problem with no solution. Late capitalism has produced lots of them.


ALBERT PETER ‘AL’ BELTRAMI went to rest on November 23, 2013 at Ukiah Valley Medical Center surrounded by family and friends. Born on February 26, 1934 in Sacramento, the only child of Annie and Bob Beltrami, he grew up in their restaurant The Farmers Inn and later The Lone Palm Cafe while attending school. After achieving an Associate of Arts Degree in English/History at Modesto Junior College, Al moved on to UC Berkeley where he earned his Bachelors in Political Science and Masters in Public Administration. At Cal, he fell in love with Patricia Jean Kearns and they were married shortly after graduation at The Mission in Santa Barbara. The two remained loyal Cal fans, suffering through decades of lowly Bears Football. They resided in San Diego while Al served out his active duty in the United States Navy from 1957 to 1960. Beginning his career in public service, in 1960 Al moved to San Luis Obispo for a stint as an Assistant CAO before moving to Ukiah in 1965 to take on the role of the Chief Administrative Officer of Mendocino County. He retired from the Navy Reserve in 1985 with the rank of Commander. And he retired from the County in 1990. But Al never retired from Public Service. Almost immediately after he left the CAO’s Office in Mendocino County, Al filled in as interim City Manager in Rio Dell. From 91-93 he was the CEO in Stanislaus County and from 93 to 95 he was the Deputy Director for Governmental Affairs in the Office of Governor Pete Wilson. In 1996 he helped establish the Employers Council of Mendocino County, and he served as their Executive Director until 2003. Setbacks like open-heart surgery in 1995 and a serious car crash in 2007 did little to cool Al’s passion for his community. He worked with the North Coast Builders Exchange, the Mendocino County Historical Society, The Redwood Empire Fairgrounds, The Agriculture and Business Coalition, The Mendocino College Foundation and many others. Al also had many philanthropic endeavors, including support for a scholarship at Mendocino Junior College, a fund at the Community Foundation of Mendocino County, generous support to the rebuilding of Anton Stadium, and major support to Ukiah Valley Medical Center. Al was a keen historian and avid reader, able to share an historical reference or recall a good joke for any situation. He loved dramatics, acting, theater and opera. But Elvis was King. Al leaves his daughter Katy Beltrami and son, Bob Beltrami and his wife Trish, and numerous cousins in Italy. Al was preceded in death by his mother and father, and his wife of 52 years, Patricia J Beltrami. Viewing will be Thursday December 5th 12-8pm and Funeral Services will be held at Eversole Mortuary on Saturday December 7, 2013 at 11am. Memorial donations my be made to: Mendocino College Foundation — 1000 Hensley Creek Rd., Ukiah 95482. Or The Community Foundation of Mendocino County — 204 S. Oak St., Ukiah 95482. Or Ukiah Valley Medical Center — UVMC Development — 275 Hospital Dr., Ukiah 95482. Or Mendocino County Historical Society — 603 W. Perkins St., Ukiah, CA 95482.


UKIAH CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBLE PLANNING has sent out a flyer this week headlined “Planning Commission Supports Costco — Ignores Impacts and Costs to Taxpayers” that decries the City Planning Commission’s support of the Final EIR and a Statement of Overriding Considerations that says the benefits of big box proliferation outweigh the “unavoidable impacts identified in the Final EIR, specifically traffic.” The flyer complains the decision was made without a traffic plan or funding for improvements in place. (The Ukiah City Council has previously voted to borrow $4 to $6 million to build infrastructure improvements for Costco, primarily rebuilding the Talmage Road/Highway 101 freeway interchange-exit.) The flyer claims that the EIR tells us that “Airport Park is not the place for a Costco or any other Big Box store. Our elected officials know this, yet they are still considering moving forward and committing the city to millions in taxpayer funded road improvements to sweeten the deal for Costco.”


THE FLYER CONCLUDES with an appeal to “join us at the December 4th City Council meeting and send a message to our elected officials that as taxpayers, we shouldn’t pay for the privilege to sit in traffic so Costco can make a few bucks.” The meeting starts at 6pm at the City Council Chambers in City Hall. The big box opponents miss the point — it is not about Costco making a few bucks, but about the City of Ukiah gaining half a million dollars or more annually in sales tax money off the Costco taxable sales. The City has been running at a deficit ever since the economy tanked in 2008, compounded later by losing the Redevelopment cash cow which previously paid for the bloated administrative overhead at the City. The City previously turned down the proposed Walmart expansion, but Walmart was all about adding a food center, which would not have generated any significant additional sales tax. Expect the Ukiah City Council, including “Red” Phil Baldwin, to vote slam dunk approval for Costco and the sales tax it will bring to the City.




I wanted to announce that KZYX Members for Change will hold organizational meetings this weekend. One, Saturday 12/7, on the Coast at the MendocinoTV studio behind the Company Store in Fort Bragg and another on Sunday 12/8 upstairs at the Ukiah Brewing Company in Ukiah. Both between 4-6pm. Essentially, I have been advocating as a programmer and ex-board member, for membership control over the programming at KZYX and a liberalization of station politics including more open and contested elections, discussion of station politics and policies on air, and more mechanisms for membership control such as the implementation of the Programmers Advisory Committee. Currently, the board and management have chosen to perceive programming as strictly a management decision. In my opinion, the mission of KZYX states pretty clearly that the membership controls the stations “programming and operational philosophy” as well as requiring the station to give “access to all points of view.” It is my feeling that KZYX would better serve our community, and more closely abide by its Mission if the programming were chosen more democratically. If you feel the same way, please try to make one of the meetings. The board at KZYX has been in a state of stagnation and now is a time of change in the organization as much of the corporate protocols, including the Strategic Plan, need to be rewritten. With a little organizing, we could find people to run in the next election, organize a petition, plan a membership meeting etc. that could influence the board to democratize the process going into the future. Hope to see you there and feel free to discuss. — Doug McKenty


A READER WRITES: “Regarding the KZYX Board and upcoming elections: I’ll never forget the phrase used by a former Fort Bragg Senior Center manager from Sonoma who was ousted by the Senior Center Board for trying to do her job back in the 1990s. (Kinda like the last one, but without the public backlash). After her ouster, she was refreshingly forthcoming. She observed that in these outback areas, most of the allegedly democratic (and frequently ‘liberal’) ‘boards’ like KZYX are dominated by ‘incestuous little groups of friends who see the organization as their own’ and who, along with senior staff, operate the organization as their own little sandbox. And once they’re entrenched, it’s very hard to remove them — even if they’re exposed as incompetent or even crooked. I also recall when Bruce Anderson ran for the KZYX Board once back in the mid-90s. KZYX immediately recruited Guy Rowe who won then hated his one four-year term on the Board. During the on-air debate between Rowe and Anderson, Rowe said Bruce Anderson represented ‘revolutionary change, but I represent evolutionary change.’ Rowe won handily. But, of course, there was no change at all.”



December 3, 1938: Expending $1.80 — the cost of the acid and cyanide used — the State yesterday took the lives of two men in its new lethal gas chamber at San Quentin Prison. The dubious distinction of being the first murderers to die by the gas chamber method went to Albert Kessell, 29, and Robert Lee Cannon, 30, who killed Warden Clarence Larkin in a Folsom Prison break a year ago. Their execution, carried out with efficiency and dispatch, precipitated an immediate controversy over the relative merits of cyanide and the scaffold as humane agents of death, and may be the signal for a new drive to abolish capital punishment. Kessell and Cannon took it with chins up. Cannon was almost flippant. Both felons did some talking before the lazily rising grayish-blue vapor that is hydrocyanic gas reached their nostrils from the sunken bowls beneath their chairs and convulsed them.

“Hello boys — so long,” Cannon almost shouted to the 39 spectators peering into the octagonal chamber at him through windows. Before the gas rose he cried, “Nothing to it!” When the vapor clutched at him, he exclaimed, “There it is!” He tried to talk some more, but the odor of almonds got him and he lost consciousness. Kessell’s lips moved and he said, “Quite a congregation here,” as he sat in the chair beside Cannon. Then he appeared to be trying to hold his breath. He was rigid and his hands gripped the arms of his chair as the gas hit him. He gasped: “It’s bad.” His head went back, then forward, then down. Cannon was pronounced dead in 12 minutes. It took 3 minutes longer to kill Kessell. The elapsed time was about the same as that required by the noose.

The gas had not been cleared from the chamber or the bodies removed before the controversy over death by cyanide arose. Dr. L.L. Stanley, prison physician, who listened to the men’s fading heart beats with three other doctors, said: “Hanging is simpler, quicker, and far more humane.” Dr. J.C. Geiger, San Francisco Health Director declared with emphasis, “The idea that cyanide kills immediately is hooey. These men suffered as their lungs no longer absorbed oxygen and they struggled to breathe. They died of an internal suffocation against which they had to fight and from which they must have suffered.”

(San Francisco Chronicle, 1938)


“WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO CALL IT?” she asked. She knew intellectuals always made a great fuss about the titles of their books. The titles of biographies were especially important. Had not “Victorian Vista,” the scathing life of Thomas Carlyle, dropped stone cold last year from the presses because everybody thought it was a boring book of reminiscences, while “Odor of Sanctity,” a rather dull history of Drainage Reform from 1840 to 1873, had sold like hot cakes because everybody thought it was an attack on Victorian morality? “I’m hesitating between ‘Scapegoat: A Study of Branwell Brontë,’ and ‘Pard-spirit: A Study of Branwell Brontë’ — you know… A pard-like spirit, beautiful and swift.” Flora did indeed know. The quotation was from Shelley’s Adonais. One of the disadvantages of almost universal education was the fact that all kinds of persons acquired a familiarity with one’s favorite writers. It gave one a curious feeling; it was like seeing a drunken stranger wrapped in one’s dressing-gown.

— Stella Gibbons, 1932; from “Cold Comfort Farm”



Press Release From The Arcata Police Department:

Arcata Police Officers responded to the 1700 Block of G St and located the suspect, identified as 63 year old Stephen D. Long of Windham Maine. He was taken into custody without incident and booked into the Humboldt County Jail.



by Penny Skillman

“No kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” This was a 60s saying. And I believe it to be true. But when it comes to street begging, I’m beginning to wonder if giving money to people who sit on the sidewalks with a cup for donations is now such a popular activity that panhandling has become an accepted lifestyle, a first, main, only job. Still no retirement pensions, but many of us don’t have those benefits now either. Why do I see overweight beggars smoking $3-a-pack cigarettes sitting out there on the sidewalk? Am I supporting “bad” behaviors when I give money to a sidewalk beggar? I’ve never believed that working by itself made a person sane or moral or decent, but it does give you control over areas of existence that you don’t have otherwise. In other words, it allows you to set hierarchies of priorities in more areas of your life than just eating and sleeping. And that strikes me as a good thing. A very wonderful thing, in fact.

The street panhandler who begs as a lifestyle choice is taking up space and incoming money that a truly mendicant person might be getting. By giving our money, as a community we are making a space outside on the sidewalk for someone to display wares to would-be donors. Nowadays, for a whole class of non-starving, non-working people, begging has become a viable lifestyle. In common with addicts, lifestyle panhandlers have a familiar core resistance to change, while often there is talk of change. In other words, the fantasy of changing has become part of the act. But what is panhandling about?

Whenever I interact with Molly, who for years has sat somewhere on the same block and begged with a paper cup, who wears nicely coordinated clothing, and is clean and bright, I ponder the possibility that this voluntary panhandling is a more generalized, more vague form of prostitution which in order to fulfill the supply-demand angle requires a purveyor of the product to cling to various stories of victimhood so that the giver feels they are going to be instrumental or even pivotal in get­ting this person off the street. The “homeless” person (in Molly’s case she was given a room by the city and was never really homeless) sells an emotional tidbit, but is constrained to always appear helpless and victimized yet simultaneously trying to escape beggardom. She has, it seems to me, given up the victimhood of showing up at a certain time each day at a job, for a self-imposed victimhood. But her coping mechanism is but a single note. She’s shown me pictures of her son and daughter who live in Southern California and she’s obviously proud of them. But I’m fairly certain the first time they placed the slightest demand on her emotions she’d bolt. There is no point at which she can accept responsibility in even the most nuanced form. Once or twice I’ve invited her to join me in a coffeehouse and it was too much for her to sit face-to-face with another person. She is determined to remain in a state of total dependency and it requires all her efforts to keep the world from imposing, yet interact with the world just enough to ensure survival. Molly lets her donors believe they will be helping her in her salvation. “With the help of the people on the street I’m going to get off the street,” she told me once. She’s also at times told me she likes to paint houses, that she’s going to make water color postcards to sell on the street, that she was once an EMT, that she’s saved people on the street in the Tenderloin from overdosing, and that she helps out the police because she knows what’s going on in the streets. For the first two years I thought maybe some very small part of this might be true. I’ve seen her primarily as an actress, but not necessarily a good one. Her mode of panhandling explains why she’s resisted getting her missing front teeth fixed — while she may have a set of uppers back in her room, it adds to her authenticity as a homeless person to be missing her front teeth. This craft of creating illusion is also central to the power a prostitute strives for in his or her work. Yet sometimes I see Molly as simply a modern-day female holy person, like one of those wondering Buddhist beggars. One of the reasons people still give her money despite years of seeing her out on the sidewalk is that she looks as if she’s only there temporarily. With a bit of imagination it is possible to see her reintegrating into society in some capacity other than begging. She told me a year or so ago that her successful sister from Oregon came to visit and disgustedly asked her, “But how do you fill your day?” I told Molly I thought that was a very intelligent question, one we all ought to ask ourselves frequently.

What does it mean that modern-day America has spawned this new “industry” in which the worker is a cross between an old-fashioned illusionist and talking-entertainer who produces “feel-good” moments for the paying customer, while failing or simply refusing to produce a work product that is perceived as adding to the common good? Isn’t this a reason our society looks askance at prostitution? I think in one sense the new voluntary panhandling lifestyle is a radical development and it threatens old-fashioned notions of work where mental or physical effort is exchanged for a product or service in an expressed process that our values have deemed productive. It is, in a way, the job attuned to our present everything-the-easy-way, fast-food culture, but one in which the work product has morphed into a momentary psychic satisfaction for the giver — “I have helped a fellow in need,” even though that need may be illusionary — and for the taker a psychic satisfaction of yet another effective performance, as in, “I have got my craft down.” Perhaps real products, but elusive, more on a religious psychotherapeutic scale and hard to keep track of, regu­late or quantify. And perhaps having a social use in keeping these same people out of institutions that we taxpayers support. Maybe the voluntary beggar’s work is closer in nature to the magician’s act of olden days for the stripped-down pleasures of the opium den where nothing appears to be happening at all yet the seller and buyer feel a satisfaction nonetheless. And it seems to me that the more lucid the beggar’s presentation appears to the intended audience, the more successful it may be; in that respect it may rein in the mentally ill homeless enough to at least pay attention to the rational world to ascertain and get at its sympathetic heartstrings.

Once on Market Street I came across a forlorn woman sitting on one of the concrete planters, hands clasped and head down, bags of tatty belongings nearby and an orange crayon sign propped up in front that said, “Another day in paradise.” I gave paper because I saw her as putting on a minimalist play in one-eighth of an act. Irony is the motherhood of art, isn’t it? I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but it evoked a definite response. Likewise, the sign of the panhandler I saw raking in money on the Van Ness median the day after Frank Sinatra died: “I did it my way.” If someone can make you smile they are indeed entertaining and it can be argued that this is a form of productive work. But the spins on panhandling evolve sometimes into forms I’m uncomfortable with.

A year ago I saw a young woman with two young children on Market Street begging. She also had a cat. I’m torn whenever I see kids or cats, disturbed about what it says about our affluent society and its Judeo-Christian ethos. I don’t give to beggars who keep cats on the curb any longer. I stopped once to talk with a man on Market Street who had to plump cats sitting on pillows.

“Where did you get those gorgeous cats?” I inquired.

“I rescued them on the side of a highway in Texas,” he said, and proceeded to describe how he’d saved and rehabbed the cats. I gave him more than any amount I’ve given before or since because I thought he was doing productive social work although on a small scale. Plus, I’m a cat nut. Months later I came across the same well cared for cats with a new panhandler.

“Where did you get those beautiful cats?” I ventured.

The man looked thoughtfully at me over his glasses. “I rescued them on the side of a highway in Texas,” he said, continuing with the story I had heard six months previous. I gave him 50¢. Every single story in the city has its shelf life, doesn’t it? And the cats were well cared for. More recently I’ve come across a woman on the south side of Market near Fourth. She sits crocheting with a sign next to her which reads: “I have four kids to feed and I’m pregnant.” I found myself about to drop coins into the cup, then the thought popped out. Whoa! What’s wrong with this picture? Is this the newest panhandling morality? If you, stranger, refuse to help me feed this first four, I’m going to make you starve another one? The amount of goods or money taken in is the gauge of the illusionist’s success as it is in any profession. The product and work shift length and location have been removed from society’s regulating or approved purposes except for the ultimate spending of the money earned. Is the money a product of labor? Is voluntary begging theater? Is it a form of religious ritual in which the priest/priestess addresses the flock one-on-one for a few minutes in a publicly located confessional with a mobile work kit including a donation box on-site?

Is it possible that each quarter or dollar we give to a street person is encouraging at least some teenagers, veterans, housewives — and now mothers — to take themselves and baby, toddlers, dog, cat, or other “zoo-creating” dependent or prop out to the urban sidewalk and set up a space with a cup and sign and claim it as their personal workspace? Maybe we are harming our greater society by enabling a dependent and passive compulsion and not helping the individual panhandler either.

We all know that young people can occasionally lack common sense; sometimes they have an undeveloped sense of right and wrong and no practical skills including not all that great an ability to entertain. And begging, it’s obvious, can become an addiction. It is a dependent behavior. There are very few skills to be honed out there except those connected with manipulating strangers to give up their money and if you can’t dance, sing or play an instrument as the beggars of days past, there’s only two basic stances — pathetic victim of life, or friendly down-and-outer trying to get a foothold.

What Molly knows is that it’s better to be friendly, say Hi! to passing kids and adults, fix your appearance so it looks as if you’re trying, and merely temporarily out of a job. This for her, it seems, takes the place of responsibilities in general. For her and other chronic voluntary beggars this behavior doesn’t afford long-term self-esteem, it strips a person’s confidence in getting or keeping a job and it erodes all self-discipline because it allows subsistence existence which makes it possible to postpone any other form of self-reliance.

Giving people money on the street may prevent them from taking charge of their existence, their emotions, any capacity to set goals, or make even low-level exchanges with other people on an even basis as an adult. Worst of all, I think street begging encourages lying which we already have far too much of in our lives, both as a society and in our personal relationships. Telling falsehoods is an addictive behavior, much more dangerously addictive than most people are aware, In its serious form, constant unrepentant lying that is never set straight and has no immediate white lie purpose is a hideous form of abuse.

San Francisco of all places with its tolerant populace and a Mediterranean climate that accommodates an urban camper, puts few social demands or desires to dampen personal freedom. So it may be a mistake to go on giving out medical help that is more dependable than what we going-to-work folks can get or housing that’s better and newer than we can afford when we’re working a job. Molly was given a room by the city.

Cash is available to those who have a story and can sit on the sidewalk with a paper cup. There’s something in the process that turns society on its head. Especially so when services, food and physical and mental health treatment have become so expensive. How do we want young people in the city to observe and understand our values and beliefs about what’s expected of them in order to be acceptable adults, even functional? If you make a living begging and you don’t need mental health services in an obvious way, does it mean begging for a living is an honorable goal?

Even by middle school, kids pick up on attitudes, mores and values, and what they mean for others and for themselves. Later in high school it’s, What skills do I need to make it in the world? What’s possible? Do we want children to learn sitting on a sidewalk is an option, along with telling lies and manipulating the system into taking care of them? And more practically it becomes a matter of numbers. There are only so many farming spaces on our sidewalks, only so many givers are able or willing to buy the product, only for so much time is it profitable at each location. And for at least some people who have been addicted — whether it’s an addiction to booze, pharmaceuticals, gambling, cigarettes, rage, emotional dependencies such as “romance,” or sex, or pan­handling, it can take years of struggle, using up enormous amounts of community resources and family resources when an addict decides to try to get straight again. Every addict who’s been successful at recovery will attest to the battle to stuff the genie back into the bottle. It can damn near kill those trying to pull out of the morass of addiction. Precious years are lost in unlearning nonfunctional behaviors. If you sit on a sidewalk long enough, sleeping there is natural after a while, the same with eating out of garbage cans. The hierarchies of priorities diminish to one or two. Alternatives dissipate and hostility grows in direct proportion to it.

I’ve been a giver of spare change and occasionally bills, but I’ve come to believe it’s better to only give food to panhandlers, generally speaking. I see too many people on the streets and in the park and there’s simply not enough room up there or surplus spare change as the fat on the land is disappearing at an increasingly faster pace nowadays.



by Dan Bacher

Dennis McEwan’s opinion piece in the Sacramento Bee (http://www.sacbee.com/2013/12/01/5957581/the-delta-the-plumbing-and-rectifying.html) glorifying the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels is a classic example of the triumph of political science over natural science that characterizes the agency that he works for, the Department of Water Resources (DWR).

Nowhere in this piece does the DWR biologist mention that federal agency scientists skewered the BDCP’s draft environmental documents — and have repeatedly said that the plan’s implementation may hasten the extinction of Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other species.

McEwan states, “Will the Bay Delta Conservation Plan be the savior of the Delta? That remains to be seen. But I believe it is the most realistic plan yet conceived to right the tremendous injuries we’ve inflicted upon the Delta’s natural environment over the last 150 years.”

However, on July 18, scientists from federal lead agencies for the BDCP EIR/EIS — the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Marine Fisheries Service — exposed the hollowness of Brown administration claims that the BDCP is based on “science” and McEwan’s claim that the twin tunnels plan is “the most realistic plan yet conceived to right the tremendous injuries we’ve inflicted upon the Delta’s natural environment over the last 150 years.”

The federal scientists provided the California Department of Water Resources and the environmental consultants with 44 pages of comments highly critical of the Consultant Second Administrative Draft EIR/EISDraft), released on May 10. The agencies found, among other things, that the draft environmental documents were “biased,” “insufficient,” “confusing,” and “very subjective.” (http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/Libraries/Dynamic_Document_Library/Federal_Agency_Comments_on_Consultant_Administrative_Draft_EIR-EIS_7-18-13.sflb.ashx)

The National Marine Fisheries Service said the environmental draft is “currently insufficient” and “will need to be revised.” The agency also criticized some sections of the document for arriving at “seemingly illogical conclusions.”

The Bureau of Reclamation criticized the language and content of the draft for “advocating for the project.” They also said the “identification of adverse and beneficial impacts is very subjective and appears to be based on a misreading of NEPA regulations.”

In addition, “The document is vague about the relationship between the various agency actions that compose or relate to the BDCP, including how these actions will be sequenced and the time/manner of environmental analysis for each,” Reclamation stated.

Based on the scientists’ assessment of these draft documents, the BDCP is hardly the “most realistic plan yet conceived” to address the coequal goals of ecosystem restoration and water supply reliability.

McEwan also claims “These facilities cannot be modernized; the location of the pumps at the end of dead-end channels means that fish collection and trucking will always be necessary. My first three years at Fish and Wildlife were spent overseeing this operation, and I was constantly amazed at the limitations of these facilities.”

Yet McEwan then states that these “new facilities will not completely replace the existing facilities, but will greatly reduce their frequency of use.”

How will the tunnels benefit salmon, steelhead and other species when they are in fact only spreading the fish carnage from the South Delta to the Sacramento River also? The massacre of Central Valley salmon, steelhead, Sacramento splittail, American shad, striped bass and other species will continue when the South Delta pumps are operating — while the new intake facilities on the Sacramento River will imperil migrating salmon, steelhead and other fish in their major migratory corridor.

How can we possibly trust the state and federal agencies to come up with new “Magic Screens” to protect fish at the new intakes when they never installed new state-of-the-art screens in the existing Delta pumps as they were supposed to do under the CalFed process?

The problems of fish population crashes and water supply won’t be provided by “re-plumbing” the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. They can be only solved by reducing water exports from the Delta.

The Environmental Water Caucus Responsible Exports Plan, not the BDCP, is the “most realistic plan yet conceived” to restore the Delta while providing for the state’s water supply needs.

This plan reduces water exports to no more than 3 million acre feet of water in all years, in keeping with the SWRCB Flows Criteria. The plan employs a number of creative solutions to addressing California’s water problems, including retirement of drainage impaired land, increased water recycling and expanded water conservation.

The updated plan is available at: http://www.aqualliance.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/RESPONSIBLE-EXPORTS-PLAN-MAY-2013-update.pdf

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