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The non-subscriber view of Bruce Anderson’s column leaves just enough to draw the curiosity.

RIVETING HED from Monday’s Ukiah Daily Journal, and above the fold, too: “CalTrans eases deadline on relinquishment agreement.” The story had to do with the Willits Bypass, a mythical project currently running neck and neck with Big Foot in ultimate likelihood. The Willits Bypass, given the givens of accelerating civic bankruptcy, might get half-done as work halts with a single off-ramp dead-ending at David and Ellen Drell’s house with the assurance, “Lannie Cotler. Three More Miles.”

So what happens to the matching funds if they don’t finish?  Plus they’ve already condemned a bunch of land.  Anyone know the story?

Here’s the referenced UDJ article and a more recent one on the funding.

Whatever you think of incumbent Mendo D.A. Meredith Lintott, why do even progressive writers find it so necessary to discuss the physical (or photogenic) appearance of a woman candidate?

I don’t mean to sound “politically correct” or anything, but there are serious issues in the race warranting their attention.  Granted, the AVA has always been something like a left version of the Humboldt Mirror.

I’d like to know why the driving passerby’s flipped them off.  Much more of a story there.

Addendum: Actually, in finishing the column I found the final paragraph to be the most interesting.

THE SANTA ROSA COPS might want to re-think their villains. The other day they held a hostage training with the hostage takers being “an extreme environmental activist group” whose behavior was similar to “situations that have occurred.” Really? Where?

Were they saving the best for last?

Found this Alex Cockburn piece on the newly revamped Anderson Valley Advertiser website.  It’s got photos of Limbaugh’s NYC Penthouse apartment, up for sale if anybody is looking for a place.  13.95 million is the asking price.  The decor is kind of surprising for someone who allegedly speaks for the everyday man of Middle America and rants and raves against the elitism of liberals struggling to pay off student loans way into their 30s because they chose public service jobs.

Cockburn on the decor:

The decor makes you wonder. Uptight provincial rococo. As someone commented, “Looks feminine, dainty and uncomfortable. No reclining chair. No TV. No pool table. No mounted deer head. No bear rug. No gun rack. No militaria. No truck in the driveway. Are you sure a single man lives here?” Of course the thrice-married, thrice-divorced Rush takes pains to have a woman on his arm, at least in public, even though the current companion, Kate Rogers, was having her nails done in West Palm Beach when Limbaugh was on vacation in Hawaii, where he had his heart attack (and benefited from Hawaii’s quasi-social medical system – EVK).

I love the flowers on the mantle.  Nice touch.  Are they real do you think?

The irony here is that it looks as garish as anything you’d find in Hollywood.  Maybe more so.  I bet he says it was redecorated to sell.

Click on the photo to enlarge.  You can see his bedroom through the link.


On the new AVA site itself, pretty snazzy.  Kind of brings up its own ironies however.  I remember an AVA issue with a quote from a Fanzine in San Francisco whose masthead read: “Please don’t visit our website.  We don’t have one.”  They’ve had a website for awhile, but it was pretty minimal.

And actually, I miss the old Pulitzer quote on the AVA masthead which read, “a newspaper should have no friends.”  Do we have a kinder/gentler Bruce Anderson running the show now?  Has he converted to Buddhism or something?

Mendo’s elections this year are also bound to be contentious, and their District Attorney race is no exception.  I am informed that there are three candidates.

The incumbent is Meredith Lintott (the link is to her Facebook page, but I’ve subsequently located her official site) who was elected following Norm Vroman’s death in last election cycle.  She is being criticized by Medical Marijuana advocates with regard to her policies, and some claim that she is pushing the marijuana prosecutions well beyond the public’s comfort level.  She had promised leniency, but perhaps has come to view the subsequent passage of Measure B (which repealed elements of Measure G) in 2008 as a mandate for more aggressive prosecution of marijuana crimes.   Although she is perceived by many as “conservative,” she emphasizes among her successes interventionist/community based comprehensive policies.  Although all D.A. candidates have to make some lip service in that direction, she claims to have delivered on it.  She also claims to have pursued environmental crimes and boasts success in negotiating a half a million dollars settlement in a case pertaining to the construction of the new Noyo Bridge (anybody with info?).  She is backed by Congressman Mike Thompson among others.   A curious name on her list is Michael Sweeney.  Could he be Judi Bari’s ex-husband?  According to her Facebook page she also likes to listen to Eric Clapton, and, well, she’s willing to admit she listens to Jack Johnson, for which she deserves credit for bravery.

Running against her is Matt Finnegan who worked under Lintott, but was fired (I don’t know why – maybe someone does?).  His issues page contains many of the usual generalities and vagueness, but also some interesting clues as to his overall philosophy.  On marijuana, he backed Measure B, and he adopts the safe position of promising to pursue trafficking for profit, grows on public lands, and trespasses onto private lands, while promising to honor Proposition 215 and deprioritize small time possession cases.  He goes out of his way to emphasize transparency and accountability, and promises against “cronyism,” which leads me to wonder if those are going to be issues raised with his former boss.  He emphasizes his support of gun rights, which might cost him progressive votes in other communities, but is unlikely to be an issue as even most progressives here tout what they call “rural values” which distinguish them from their urban progressive counterparts.  And he throws the usual bones to progressives, again, by emphasizing interventionist approaches to law enforcement, promising to work with public defenders and substance abuse treatment advocates in a comprehensive policy.  He also promises to work with judges to implement policies which discourage late hour settlements which waste the time of potential jurors on Monday mornings, but he is not very specific – triggering concerns for me that what he has in mind is sanctions for defendants who settle late and/or incentives for early settlement, thereby creating a negotiation disadvantage to defendants.  I guess the big question he has to answer is why he is running against his former boss.

Also running is David Eyster who currently practices criminal defense in a private practice, but has been a “tough prosecutor” (no word as to whether he’s been a tough defense attorney”) in the past.  Eyster has some endorsements (I don’t know any of the names) and a handful of “commendations,” the red flag for progressives constituting praise from Republican former Attorney General Dan Lungren (who among other things basically pretended that Proposition 215 never happened for the duration of his office).  This Mike Geniella article on Eyster which is linked from the “news” page of Eyster’s site quotes Eyster as referring to marijuana as “the elephant in the room” neither of the other candidates will discuss.  He then says, pretty much what they say, that he’ll respect Proposition 215 while prosecuting the profiteers.

So who is the “progressive” and who is the “conservative?”  The labels might have some relevance in the Humboldt race.  I don’t know that they’re at play in Mendo.

I did come across this handy link to the Anderson Valley Advertiser piece which reviews each of the candidates’ Facebooking.  Are any of our Humboldt candidates Facebooking?

Thoughts from Mendo voters up on the race would be helpful.  For instance – does anybody know why Lintott fired Finnegan?

Get em while they’re hot. The “only truly progressive paper in the country” as deemed by Alex Cockburn so ironically named “the Advertiser,” offers up a healthy plate of rustic radical hyperbole in endorsements for your pleasure.

Nader for president. Wolman for Congress. Anybody but “lazy” old Chesbro for Assembly.

Bruce and I agree on all but two of the propositions (many lefties are balking over Prop 3 because it gives money to private hospitals, and he also supports Prop 7 but says we are free to vote the way we want on that one – don’t say he isn’t gracious!), but our reasoning on some of them is vastly different. His prose is worth the read even if you’ve made up your mind.

In local stuff he’s backing the other Estelle, Brown, and the nurse over the doctor in the north coasts’ only other contested hospital board race.

And as a bonus, he tears into the Mendo D.A. This first paragraph brings back memories of my first AVA reading back in the 1980s, several years before his obsessive pursuit of certain local personalities distracted him from his calling.

In recent months, the Mendocino County District Attorney has prosecuted a Fort Bragg man for saving a mountain lion cub, put a Little River man in jail for tidying up a State Parks trail, ruined a Potter Valley teacher with false charges of molestation, let a couple of confirmed wife beaters go, confiscated the property of several alleged drug traffickers before they’d even gone to trial, refused to prosecute two politically friendly County supervisors for their obvious thefts of public funds and, now, has done everything short of apologizing to an animal torturer whose prosecution her office botched from start to pathetic finish.

I don’t remember the name of the person who said that the job of a newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, but he lives up to it as well as the Pulititzer admonition on his masthead: “a newspaper should have no friends.

Democracy: Product or Process?

Bruce Anderson made a rare understatement when he characterized KMUD as a “weak democracy.” My experience over three years on the KMUD board, and as Board Secretary, was that there are many people here (on the board, programmers, members…) who are both ignorant about and deeply afraid of democracy.

Democracy is nothing more or less than process – a certain process – by which groups of people communicate and make mutual decisions. “Most people” (around the world) now think that Democracy is the most fair process for the most people.

Within the “Redwood Community” Anarchy seems to be the preferred mode of operation for many, never mind that idea pretty much went out of fashion a hundred years ago. Not that a great show of process isn’t made; anarchists will go on endlessly over process minutiae.

But the democratic process is not a new wheel in need of invention. It’s been figured out for a long time, and it mostly works. It is not intended to be the most efficient, profitable, or most convenient system. It is supposed to be the most fair.

The democratic process as we know it evolved over millennia; it is rooted in ancient common law, founded on the Magna Carta, refined over 500 years of Parliamentary Procedure, and summarized in Robert’s Rules of Order: an elegant, if dry, document that is logical, rational and practical. There are abridged versions written on what used to be a sixth-grade level, but even these proved too formidable for most of my fellow board members to read, and so most remained deeply suspicious of the unread contents.

One board member actually said, in a board meeting, “But if we have rules [of order], then somebody could study them and figure out how to get an advantage over someone who hadn’t read them.”

Ultimately, the board decided to revoke Robert’s Rules, which meetings had previously run by, and replace them with… nothing. No rules, or at least, unwritten rules. You know (nudge, wink), those rules. The rules that allow a minority to overrule or out-vote a majority. (Yes, I saw that happen repeatedly on key issues.) Rules that allowed whoever had the loudest voice to dominate the discussion. Crucial votes by, for instance, all the programmers, were blocked by an angry mob, and then results were simply… announced.

Most of the time I was on the board we argued endlessly about process and operations details, and almost never actually did anything. Most decisions were to table any issue. When, finally, a difficult decision had to be made, whoever didn’t like the result would throw a tantrum and the board would reverse itself at the next meeting.

The most recent, and disastrous, flip-flopping by the KMUD board was over the Reggae wars. I was not, thank Jah, involved in that fiasco, having long since done my time and fled. But I did, privately, urge some board members that KMUD must remain neutral, and had to maintain the appearance of neutrality. My position was that as long as the event was in dispute and under litigation, KMUD could not support or work with either side against the other. I urged board members to make this publicly clear immediately, with a statement that we looked forward to returning to the festival as soon as the disputes were settled.

Instead, the board first avoided the issue for months, hoping, I suppose, that it would resolve itself. When they finally had to deal with it, they instead made a decision that was perceived by one side to favor the other, and as soon as the predictable shit hit their fan, they immediately reversed their decision, thereby enraging and alienating both sides.

As if shooting itself in both feet wasn’t bad enough, then the station couldn’t help falling on its sword, so to speak, by way of the astonishingly unprofessional handling of Estelle’s departure. This was a personnel issue that was handled like a street brawl. Estelle was probably the most popular and widely respected programmer at the station. She had done an incredible job for a very long time. Anyone that bright and ambitious would be expected to eventually think about moving on to something new and different, or bigger and better.

Estelle could have taken the high road and walked out a winner, using any of the clichés which are customary in these situations. Instead, she went negative, attacking the station publicly. Whatever frictions there may have been between her and management or some board members, there are (or were) well-established grievance procedures, and there should have been – but apparently wasn’t – a constructive review process.

By attacking the station, and framing the issue in terms of Reggae partisanship, Estelle discredited herself and, I would think, alienated a significant part of the very base from which she is running for office. This was, I thought, an astonishing way to begin a campaign.

Ultimately, I think the increasingly obvious problems at KMUD go way beyond personality disputes or process issues. KMUD’s problems merely reflect the “community” it serves, and I think we, as a community, may have outlived our purpose; we may have forgotten our raison d’être. Or we are simply stuck in an imaginary past, in a Camelot for radicals that never was.

Personally, I feel like I’ve outgrown KMUD over the last few years, while the organization continues to, well, spin its wheels in the same old mud. Understand that I say this as a charter member, and a longtime volunteer and major donor. I used to always listen to the station. I even loved listening to the programs I didn’t really like. Now I turn it on less and less, and more and more what I hear is so often boring or even offensive that I usually just turn it off.

KMUD’s bylaws require it to serve the entire community, and KMUD thinks it is the entire community. But I remember going to the Chamber of Commerce dinner where Estelle was honored as Citizen of the Year, and how astonished I was to walk into the Mateel and see it packed with people I had never even seen before – and, except for a couple of other KMUD guys, I was the only man in the room not wearing a suit. Hello, Business Community?

How about the ever-growing Hispanic community increasingly working in those businesses?

Most important to me is the YOUTH community – our kids and presumed heirs. Will they have to pry our cold dead fingers off the control board to get their turn on the air? Actually, I think recently there have been some token efforts to include more youth, especially in the news department. This is great news to me, as I have been pleading for this for years. This effort to recruit and train students to be in and on the radio should be increased tenfold.

Know why? ‘Cause kids are hip, and we’re not. Oh – present company excepted, of course!

But seriously, I think it’s way past time to collectively grow up and move on. Quit living in the past, ‘cause we’re already here in the future. Just ask your kids. If you can get them to take their thumbs off their phones long enough to remove an earphone.

David Bergin

Addendum: Cristina already posted the piece on her blog, and it’s already drawn some comments.

And I mean back! I noted his return previously, but he seemed to have mellowed. Lately he’s taken up the Bari crusade again. Steve Talbot, who produced the documentary Who Bombed Judi Bari?, was in Booneville for a visit (the Redwood Summer people weren’t impressed, particularly not Judi). KZYX icon Annie Esposito showed and spoke up.

At one point in her monologue directed at the gentlemanly Talbot, who clearly wanted to shake free of the monopolizing Esposito to allow other people in the audience to ask questions, Esposito turned her cadaverously pale, unnervingly spectral, ghostly gray self towards me and said in that breathy, oddly muffled, underwater burble of hers, “You slander people all the time, right, Bruce?” I must admit that I briefly panicked. Had Dr. Death sent his administrative assistant to prepare me for Final Departure? I grabbed a full glass of beer out of Irv Sutley’s startled hands and was gulping it down as the last I’d ever enjoy when Ms. Death mercifully returned her befuddled attentions to Talbot. I’ve never been formally introduced to this person and here she is calling me by my first name! Liberties aside, Ms. Esposito, if you’ll take out your handy dandy reporter’s notebook and listen very carefully here’s a second simple distinction a reporter ought to be able to make: Slander is spoken untruth; libel is written untruth. Both are deliberate, conscious lies. Of course most non-ideological, adult-type persons also know that there’s a difference between libel and slander and mere error. If errors are not corrected, well, maybe then you can talk libel and slander. Funny thing about it was, while Ms. Esposito was slandering me Saturday night at the Ox she was waving an article written by the late Bari at Talbot as if Talbot hadn’t read it, as if he hadn’t long ago responded to it, as if both articles hadn’t appeared in the AVA, the only media entity on the Northcoast where the case has been fully discussed, complete with the deliberate evasions and libels of me in my own paper by such dogged male simpletons (and Sweeney surrogates) as John McCowen and Nick Wilson. If KZYX were anything like the “free speech radio” it advertises itself as it would have been fully discussed on local air years ago.

He’s trying to restrain himself. But it’s like the scorpion and the frog. And he’s still convinced that Mike Sweeney is the bomber. Sweeney has never been amused.

I could say much more about this. I have all my old notes in boxes in the attic somewhere. But I don’t really want to dredge this up again, not even to distract from the Reggae War. But Anderson may very well be one of the great writers who won’t be recognized for it until he’s dead. Sort of a modern Mencken. Here’s hoping Bruce moves on to something fresh, with less obsession.

It’s good to see the Pulitzer quote back on the masthead – Newspapers should have no friends. He’s always taken that admonition to heart.

The drawing is by Jan Baughman and accompanies this article heralding Bruce Anderson’s return to Mendoland.

Mark Scaramela of the Anderson Valley Advertiser has an excellent article on a lawsuit against Mendocino County intended to force compliance with otherwise toothless state mandates for “inclusive housing” in the general plan.

The first three paragraphs:

Back in 2004 the Ukiah office of Legal Services of Northern California (formerly Redwood Legal) sued Mendocino County because the County’s “Housing Element,” a state-mandated ingredient of county general plans, did not comply with state law. Mendo’s Housing Element wasn’t worth the fancy paper it was written on — the fancy paper known as the General Plan.

The County has argued that all it’s required to do is submit a piece of paper called “Housing Element” with some boilerplate and numbers on it. Once the piece of paper is filed the County has a Housing Element for its General Plan, neither of which happen to exist, or are likely to exist, beyond their paper assertions.

Predictably, Mendocino County’s Housing Element bore no resemblance to known or even conceived reality. The County’s numbers (for the unincorporated areas where the majority of Mendolanders live) were not based on housing for human-type beings who require indoor plumbing and the other fancy amenities normally associated with “House.” The County says all it’s required to do is submit the piece of paper called “Housing Element.” They’re not supposed to be held to it, for the goddess’s sake! This is Mendocino County. Nobody holds anybody to anything, so to actually zone land for “affordable housing,” aka “inclusionary housing” as required by state law is a step Mendocino County has not taken.

Has anybody looked at the Humboldt County general plan from this angle? I seem to remember mention of a lawsuit by the Arkley group about making lands available for development, but I’m wondering if Humboldt’s general plan more broadly meets state mandatory (or “directory”) guidelines.

Boy! I don’t know how I missed this one. I’ve definitely been out of the loop of reality of late. Maybe the Reggae conflict has overshadowed the event. In any case, Bruce Anderson has returned. He’s back in charge at the Anderson Valley Advertiser, which has a website now where you’ll find his return interview.

I won’t bother to make an introduction for those of you who don’t know him. He’s a brilliant writer, and a consummate iconoclast. Many people will also tell you he’s, well, a supreme asshole. To say that not everybody is going to be overjoyed with his return is about along the lines of suggesting that PB and Anna Hamilton won’t be having any Sunday dinners together anytime soon. Anderson has pissed a lot of people off, some of who probably deserved it and others who clearly didn’t. His scorched earth writing about the Judi Bari saga is a classic example. I hosted him on my radio show a few years back (and subsequently gave Darrel C. “equal time”) and it was one of my more lively shows. I should point out that many of his detractors accuse him of being very loose with the facts, at least when it came to the Bari story. I’m sure the thread will be rich with accusations to that effect.

Setting aside the controversies, his writing is extraordinary and fun to read. Then again, I haven’t really been a target of his. Not yet anyway (though I was briefly slammed by one of his writers, but as I said once before, it only made me feel more important than I was). I was just going through my e-mail archives and I found this old piece of his on modern bookstores and progressive magazines. You either love his stuff, or you don’t.

“If you’re like me, and you must be pretty much on the same page if you read this fine newspaper every week, the new book stores are of little interest other than as a place to buy a book that you can’t really afford but can’t wait to be remaindered when you buy if from Hamilton for $3.95. You want to read it NOW. And the new bookstore sells NOW. (Kids aren’t the only segment of the society prone to the pull of instant gratification. Book fogies are right up there with junkies in unreasoning compulsion.) New book stores irritate the hell out of me, frankly, because they’re a living reminder of how far the culture has slipped. Of course to stay in business a new bookstore has got to sell what people pay to read, hence the shelves stuffed with the aforementioned Toms and Dicks. Hawk, along with Dr. Laura, Miss Butterfly, Tome Clancy, Michael Jackson bios, and all the rest of the downward cultural indicators in print form. The cover art, if that’s what it’s called on new books, is as awful as the gibberish on the page. Fifty years ago even bad books came in interesting wrappers designed and illustrated by real artists. No more. If the product wasn’t in book form you could be browsing in WalMart for all you can tell from the packaging.


The magazine racks are even more offensive than the new book stores. Here’s the cover of a recent collection. Small seas of brightly colored covers committed to nothing at all of the latest in mindless consumption. Hidden away in the “serious” part of the mag rack there with the three copies of New Left Review and maybe two copies of Monthly Review, there’s the Nation wondering on its cover if Nancy Pelosi will move the Democratic Party in a more “progressive” direction and, on the same cover, another inane ditherer is worried that Ralph Nader might run for president again. I have a suggestion for the progressive print people: Combine The Nation, In These Times, Utne Reader, The Progressive, Mother Jones, and Z in to one monthly magazine called WUSS. A Publication for Greek Seaman’s Caps and People Who Drive Used Volvos With Lots of Bumperstickers On Them.”

Hmmm. What’s going to happen if he catches up with the Reggae conflict? Then again, maybe he won’t bother. All of the sudden the old quote by Tom Lehrer comes to mind: “I gave up satire the day they gave Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize.” I mean, what could Bruce add to the mix?


July 2020