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Updated: 3 months 6 days ago

Another trio arrested in burglary of Ukiah home

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 8:16am
Renee Crane (Photo courtesy of the Ukiah Police Department)

Another group of three suspects was arrested for burglarizing a Ukiah home recently, the Ukiah Police Department reported.

According to the UPD, officers responded to a home in the 600 block of Marshall Street shortly before 5 p.m. Feb. 8 when a man reported that someone had broken into his home and stolen several items worth thousands of dollars.

Surveillance footage of the break-in was recorded, and when officers watched it they identified one of the suspects as Lawrence A. Texeira, 43, of Albion, on the Mendocino Coast. Officers also identified the vehicle used in the burglary as belonging to Renee C. Crane, 48, of Little River, also on the coast, and determined that she had participated in the burglary.

The day after the burglary, Feb. 9, deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office found Texeira on the coast and UPD officers responded there to talk with him. Also on-scene was Crane and her vehicle, as well as a passenger identified as Aron Hernandez, 40, of Little River. Both Crane and Hernandez also allegedly had items reported stolen from the home.

Aron Hernandez (Photo courtesy of the Ukiah Police Department)

Officers then searched the home of Texeira, and the home shared by Crane and Hernandez, reportedly finding more stolen items in both residences. All three suspects were then arrested.

Texeria was booked into Mendocino County Jail on charges of burglary, grand theft and conspiracy; Crane was booked on charges of conspiracy and being an accessory to a crime and Hernandez was booked on charges of possession of stolen property and grand theft.

Anyone with further information about the case is urged to call the UPD at 707-463-6262.


Oroville Dam: Two years after the mass evacuation, here’s where we are

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 3:30am

OROVILLE — Two years ago today, about 188,000 people were ordered to evacuate for fear the damaged Oroville Dam spillway would fail.

While the worst fears never materialized, the incident had impacts still felt in the community. It also spawned new legislation related to dam safety, a modern rebuild of the spillway, and many lawsuits against the state Department of Water Resources.

This is by no means a comprehensive summary, but below are some major updates related to the spillway crisis.

Reconstruction continues

Both the main and emergency spillways are still under reconstruction.

DWR said the main spillway was ready to be used again by its Nov. 1, 2018, deadline. However, some minor work there is still ongoing, including site clean-up and sidewall backfill. Contractors are also working to bring the hillside back to its natural state by grading and hydroseeding. That work will be ongoing “well into spring 2019,” according to DWR.

Work on the emergency spillway continues as well. Currently construction crews are placing a concrete cap on top of a new buttress made of roller-compacted concrete.

Recreation advocacy

The Feather River Recreation Alliance, led by Oroville residents, continues to meet and advocate for those impacted by the dam crisis and aftermath. One major effort the alliance is focused on now is gathering signatures for a petition to present to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, with a request for an “independent, comprehensive assessment of the dam and fair treatment for the downstream communities.” The alliance’s goal is to get 8,000 signatures.

Safety group

The dam safety group led by Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, and John Yarbrough of DWR met Jan. 10 for the third time with other community leaders, DWR representatives and the Independent Review Board. The group is analyzing the comprehensive needs assessment for Oroville Dam which is being prepared and is expected to be finished in 2020.

Long-term changes to the dam’s operations and infrastructure, including possibilities like the addition of a second gated spillway, are being considered in the assessment, DWR has said previously.


A trial date of June 1, 2020 has been set for many of the lawsuits against DWR over the Oroville Dam crisis. Plaintiffs include the city of Oroville, Butte County, PG&E and several proposed classes, among others. More information can be found on the Sacramento County Superior Court website. The case number is JCCP 4974.

DWR has filed a petition to add to the coordinated proceeding the Butte County District Attorney’s lawsuit against the department over environmental damages from the dam crisis. This appears to be the only suit pending against DWR over the incident that is not part of the proceeding already. For court documents, search for case number 18CV00415 on the Butte County Superior Court website.


A soft opening of Oroville’s Riverbend Park, which suffered extensive flooding damage during the spillway crisis, is scheduled for mid-February and a grand opening is expected to coincide with the Wildflower Festival in April. The opening has been pushed back several times due to vandalism.

DWR confirmed last week that it still intends to reopen the spillway boat launch ramp and the road across the dam to access it this summer. Both features have been closed to the public since the spillway first split open two years ago. The boat launch facility is the largest in the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area.


A bill signed into law by the president last year, the 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill, requires an independent review of the Oroville Dam facility. Specifically, it requires the licensee of the Oroville Dam to request that the U.S. Society on Dams nominate independent consultants to prepare a risk analysis. The Oroville resident-led Feather River Recovery Alliance said this was not the “comprehensive, independent assessment” that the group sought.

A bill proposed by Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Red Bluff, to create a citizens advisory commission for the dam also was signed into law last year by then-Gov. Jerry Brown. Senate Bill 955 creates a 19-member commission to provide a forum for residents and state officials to discuss reports, maintenance and other ongoing issues related to the dam.

By the numbers

$1.1 billion: Estimated cost to repair the Oroville Dam facility

612: Erosion-resistant concrete slabs installed in phases one and two

270,000: Cubic feet per second of water that can go down spillway at a time

Horoscopes: Feb. 12, 2019

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 3:00am

CELEBRITIES BORN ON THIS DAY: Christina Ricci, 39; Darren Aronofsky, 50; Josh Brolin, 51; Arsenio Hall, 63.

Happy Birthday: Pay attention to what you can accomplish, not what you cannot. Your aim should be to make the most progress, not pursue a dead end. Don’t let emotions take over or cause you to make poor decisions. Use your intelligence and charm to find out what you need to know to move forward without risk or damage to important relationships. Your numbers are 3, 11, 16, 21, 28, 33, 42.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Look for an opening or a new beginning, or take it upon yourself to learn something that will help you advance. If you want change, it’s up to you to do the groundwork necessary to achieve the goal you set. 3 stars

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Speak from the heart. What you say to others will make a difference if you are trying to get the support you need to bring about positive change. Ask for help, but find out what’s expected in return. 3 stars

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Look at the big picture and analyze what others do, say and respond. Weed out anyone who appears suspicious or who is offering the impossible. You can move forward only if you build your ideas and plans on solid ground. 3 stars

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Your charm will win over even your toughest critic. Use your creative imagination to dazzle those you want to impress. Your relationships will improve if you show compassion and offer help. Love and romance will enhance your personal life. 4 stars

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Make changes if that’s what you want. Don’t sit around waiting for someone else to step in and take over. If you’d like things done your way, do them yourself. A partnership should be based on equality. 2 stars

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): You’ll have an interesting view of what’s going on around you. Observe and make decisions based on what you see and hear. A steady pace and strategic input will help you get what you want within your budget. 5 stars

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Take better care of your health and well-being. Refuse to let anyone upset you or cause unnecessary stress. Deal with demanding people directly if you want to avoid stewing over something that may or may not happen. Take control. 3 stars

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Use your creativity, imagination and desire to be unique to your advantage. How you approach others will make a difference in the outcome of what you are trying to accomplish. A personal change will draw compliments. Romance is highlighted. 3 stars

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Trust in yourself and your ability to get things done on your own. If you count on someone else, you will be disappointed. What someone tells you and what he or she does will not coincide. Take care of your interests personally. 3 stars

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Accept the inevitable and do your own thing. The changes that come about will turn out better than anticipated. Focus on home, family and stability. Refuse to let someone’s unexpected reaction dictate how you feel or how you move forward. 5 stars

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): A secretive approach will be in your best interest. If you are too emotional or vocal about the way you feel or what you are doing, someone will take advantage of you. A poker face is favored. 2 stars

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Offer to lend a helping hand. You will gain respect and build the resources you need to increase your chance to advance. A personal change will draw compliments and interest. Give-and-take, along with hard work, will pay off. 4 stars

Birthday Baby: You are determined, ambitious and proactive. You are unpredictable and secretive.

To submit astrological questions to the “Dear Eugenia” column, visit, or join Eugenia on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn.

It’s All Good: Death and taxes, and two disruptive Democratic women, bless ’em!…

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 1:58am

I enjoy the Anderson Valley Advertiser‘s unsigned Off the Record column.
I like OTR’s prose style, so different from my own. His is straightforward, unadorned American English. No word play, few allusions, and delivery of an interesting persona.

There’s a touch of retired U.S. Marine testiness in OTR’s make-up: mention of 200 push-ups (at Parris Island then? still now, in Boonville?) Sly pride in time served in the County Jail, as well as referrals to interesting books & local Old Timers. Irritation with softies.

I do confess, though, to some slightly bruised feelings—a while ago OTR took a verbal swipe at my giveaway cap (IHiJY stitched  on the crown; ”Is he in jail yet?” on the back). But, like the the War of the Theatres in Shakespeare’s day, such stuff is good for business. Distributes caps. Sells papers, perhaps.

Generally Off the Record gets his facts as straight as his opinions, but on 1/30/19 OTR made some errors which distort his argument for easy-going gradualism in political reform.

OTR: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, like most of us, is operating on the assumption that a fix here and there will straighten things out, make life better for people generally . . .”.

OTR leads there with a conclusion unusual enough to catch attention: He thinks high-profile, Democratic line-jumper Ocasio-C. is like most of us = rock  the boat a bit, but don’t blow holes in the hull below the waterline. Factual evidence? “She has suggested a return to a 1950’s wealth tax of 70 percent. Roosevelt put it at 90 percent . . . The return to a fair wealth tax would apply to people with incomes of ten million a month and up, meaning it would apply to exactly no one in Mendocino County.”

Maybe. Yes. But . . .

OTR makes several errors. There can’t be a “return to a fair wealth tax,” because the U.S. never had one, even though OTR writes “Roosevelt put it at 90 percent.”–Roosevelt fought for and got many progressive laws through Congress, but he did not fight for nor obtain a wealth tax of 90 percent.

If FDR had done so John D. Rockefeller would have risen from his grave and emigrated with his $330 billion to Nazi Germany.

A wealth tax differs from an income tax, hugely.

A wealth tax is levied on assets a taxpayer has accumulated—stocks, bonds, WWI bayonets, mortgage-backed securities, derivatives, fresh  water . . . anything that can be monetized. Elizabeth Warren campaigns for a wealth tax with a $50 million exemption.

You know what an income tax is. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez looks to hitting those of us who earn more than $10 million a month with a 70 percent marginal tax rate.

In 1944 Congress raised the top marginal income tax rate to 94 percent and reduced the personal exemption, so many Americans paid income tax for the first time. There was a war on. We were all in it together.

That marginal top income tax rate of 94 percent, which OTR attributes (at 90 percent) to Roosevelt, dropped to 86.45 percent under Truman, until the Korean conflict, when it rose to 92 percent in 1952. In 1953 Ike went to Korea & Congress (must have been) dropped the top income tax rate to 91 percent, where it stayed through Kennedy’s presidency and life.

It’s likely that OTR confused wealth tax with income tax, and thus obscured the difference between the two most disruptive Democratic women running for President in 2020. Ocasio-Cortez looks at our federal tax system and, according to OTR, would tinker with it, adding a New Deal marginal income tax bracket of 70% on incomes of $10 million a month. How Liberal!
I approve Ocasio-Cortez’s plan.

Warren looks at the U.S. income tax and says it won’t generate enough revenue to pay for the familiar list of what this country needs (universal health care, infrastructure, peopled missions to Mars, etc.), and our current progressive income tax scheme has done nothing to reduce wealth inequality. The one percent now owns as much wealth as the 90 percent.
SO:wealth tax!–Every 15 April, Warren and I imagine our $50 million+ asset neighbors paying some percentage of their assets in Federal wealth tax.

I approve Warren’s plan even more than I approve Ocasio-Cortez’s, but doubt that the Democrats will make the leap into the dark and nominate Warren in 2020. #45 disagrees. He’s begun his shampaign against her.–Tactic’s worked for him before.

JM lives on a ridge between Redwood and Potter valleys, where two things in his life are certain, though one of the two is a somewhat less certain for his betters than the other.–

Health Matters: Healthy Teeth, Healthy Kids

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 1:58am

By Stuart Mauger, DMD

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, which makes it the perfect time to establish a relationship with a dentist for your child, if you haven’t already. Every child should see a dentist as soon as they get their first tooth or arrive at their first birthday, whichever comes sooner.

First Dentist Visit

During that first visit, you establish a “dental home” for your child, a place where he or she gets to know the dentist and thereby avoids the fear so many people develop about seeing a dentist. Also, if there are problems, the dentist can identify them early and address them before they turn into painful or damaging conditions. During children’s first dental visits, we assess their oral health, provide some fluoride varnish, and send them on their way. Simple as that.

Oral health includes “the ability to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch, chew, swallow and convey a range of emotions through facial expressions with confidence and without pain, discomfort and disease of the craniofacial complex,” according to the World Dental Federation. Basically, dentists are your first line of defense against problems that could prevent your children from getting good nutrition, from being able to communicate properly, and from feeling insecure or embarrassed because of speech impediments or physical deformities.

When to see a dentist after that

As long as children have good oral health and remain pain-free, they can see their dentist every six months. If they’ve had a cavity in the past 12 months, they should see the dentist every three months since they are at high risk for dental caries. If children experience pain or swelling in their mouths, it’s best to make an appointment. Unlike some medical conditions, by the time children feel pain they often need treatment. When you call to make an appointment, be sure to describe the symptoms—what they are and when they started—so the scheduler understands the urgency of the situation and can get you in right away, if necessary. If children have swelling that seems to interfere with their breathing, go to the hospital emergency room.

How to avoid a trip to the dentist

Teaching your child good oral health habits is the best way to avoid seeing the dentist more than a couple times a year. Allowing your child to brush their own teeth from a young age is a great idea, as long as parents brush for them afterwards until children are about eight years old. Children younger than eight rarely have the dexterity to brush well enough to clean their teeth appropriately. Parents should also teach children to floss. If there’s space between teeth, there’s no reason to floss, but if teeth touch, food can get trapped and cause plaque to build up, which can lead to cavities. In fact, most children’s cavities occur between teeth, not on the chewing surface.

Normal development

In addition to identifying cavities, dentists like to see young patients to make sure they are developing normally. With some variation, most children get their first tooth between six months old and a year. By age two, they generally have all their baby teeth. Around age six, children begin getting their first permanent teeth, often the lower front teeth and then molars. By age 12 or 13, children have all their adult teeth except their third molars, or wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth arrive on the scene in late adolescence, around age 17 or 18. Since most of us do not have room for these additional molars, it’s a good idea to have adolescents assessed to see whether they should have their wisdom teeth extracted. It’s far easier to do so before those molars fully develop and potentially cause other dental issues.

Dentists are nice

I know the idea of going to the dentist isn’t too appealing, but most of us are nice people who like to help others. I became a dentist because I love science and I think there’s no better feeling than making my patients feel better, from turning children’s tears of pain into smiles of relief.

Stuart Mauger is a dentist at Lakeside Health Center, part of MCHC Health Centers, a local, non-profit, federally qualified health center offering medical, dental and behavioral health care to people in Lake and Mendocino Counties.


California Focus: New zoning nullification plan has same old flaws

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 1:55am

California’s housing crisis was bad enough last year, when Gov. Gavin Newsom – then a mere candidate – called for building 350,000 new units every year for the next decade.

The crunch is worse this year, with some of those who lost their homes to last fall’s disastrous wildfires now added to the tens of thousands already homeless and living on streets around the state and hundreds of thousands more who are housed, but overcrowded beyond the limits of many local codes.

This scene last year led San Francisco’s Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener to push a proposed law allowing builders to override local zoning ordinances and place high-rise apartment buildings with a plenitude of “affordable” units near light rail stations or heavily used bus routes.

This proposal didn’t last long in the Legislature last year, shot down by a coalition of local governments, homeowner groups and lack of enthusiasm by former Gov. Jerry Brown, an advocate of local government controls since his years as mayor of Oakland.

But there is more pressure now to override local controls on development, and Wiener is back with a slightly redone version of his building plan, which would reverse a century of California urban sprawl by concentrating development in areas long believed to be built out.

Wiener has touted the changes he’s made to his proposal for the last couple of months, stressing ways the newer version panders to the desires of left-wing “progressives” dissatisfied with the previous version.

Now known as SB 50, the measure would let cities delay building in areas where longstanding apartment tenants might be at risk of eviction to make way for newly-mandated high rises. If a tenant has been in a building more than seven years, for example, that building couldn’t be demolished to make way for a new, far taller one.

This is meant to appease tenant groups that dominate politics in cities like Santa Monica, San Francisco and other currently dense places.

But the essence of Wiener’s original plan remains: It allows new buildings of six to eight stories in all areas within half a mile of any light-rail station or within one-quarter mile of a frequently used bus route. Preferences of local voters, city or county governments and nearby homeowners or apartment dwellers wouldn’t matter.

As Wiener says, such development could probably never occur unless the state mandated it. Few local officials could survive politically if they okayed high-rises overlooking the yards of thousands of single-family homes or caused the teardowns of expensive condominiums.

But Wiener claims many elected officials tell him they want dense development, but can’t publicly admit it. He told the New York Times that “City councils, mayors, county supervisors have (told) me ‘We can’t say this, but we need help. We need to be able to tell our constituents ‘We have to approve this project because the state requires it.’”

But just as the state’s high-speed rail project has seen years of delay and opposition over attempts to take land by eminent domain, forced new development could also run into legal buzz saws. Especially new development with virtually no new parking spaces required.

For example, Wiener’s plan is founded on the notion that denser housing won’t worsen gridlocked traffic because new residents will ride nearby trains and buses. Figures from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Southern California suggest that’s pie in the sky.

The bus and light rail agency reported last year that bus ridership shrank in the region by 15 percent in 2017 from levels of five years earlier, while rail ridership was up 4 million – less than the drop in bus ridership. Translation: there’s been some switching from buses to trains, but little net increase in mass transit riders despite creation of several new lines costing billions of dollars.

So the logic behind Wiener’s plan remains false and would worsen existing gridlock in cities he wants to densify. It ignores many thousands of homeowners who invested their life savings in residences Wiener’s plan could radically downgrade.

The bottom line: Some other solution must be sought, because it accomplishes little to begin solving one serious problem while making other problems far worse.

Wednesday Community Events

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 1:44am
Wednesday Meetings

Tax Preparation Service: Between Feb. 6 and April 12 at the Ukiah Senior Center. This is a first-come-first-served basis on Wednesdays and Fridays, from 8:30 to 11:30 Bartlett Hall, 495 Leslie St. Bring photo identification as well as yearly forms and documents showing income. 462-1535.

BLM Ukiah Field Office Public Meeting: On Wednesday, Feb. 13 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Ukiah Field Office, 2550 N. State St., Suite 2. A meeting for off-highway vehicle grant application. 468-4000.

Inland Mendocino Democratic Club Meeting: On Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 5:30 p.m. at 1401 N. State St. Free event.

Cancer Support/Book Discussion Group: Meets the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of every month from 5 to 6:45 p.m. at the Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County Ukiah Office. 391-1447.

Ukiah Library Kids’ Farmers Market: Every Wednesday from noon to 2 p.m. at 105 N. Main St. Kids bring homegrown produce, eggs, honey and handmade crafts. Learn math and money handling skills while also learning to display and sell your products. Free event. 463-4490.

Bereavement Support Group: On Wednesday, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, 1390 Laurel Ave., Ukiah. Free program. 456-3295.

Craft Squad: On Wednesdays, from 2 to 5 p.m., at the Ukiah Library, 105 N. Main St. Free event. 467-6434.

Gamblers Anonymous Group: Every Wednesday from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Calvary Baptist Church, 465 Luce Ave., Ukiah. 489-0963

Ukiah Library Baby Storytime: Every Wednesday, at 10:15 a.m., at 105 N. Main St. Babies ages 3-17 months and their grownups are welcome to join for a half-hour of reading, rhymes, finger play and songs while building early literacy skills. Older and younger siblings are always welcome. 463-4490.

Ukiah Elks Lodge #1728 Meetings: Second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, at 7 p.m., at 1200 Hastings Road, Ukiah. For more information, call 462-1728.

Soroptimist International of Ukiah: Meets the second and fourth Wednesday of every month, from noon to 1 p.m., at Slam Dunk Pizza, 720 N. State St., Ukiah.;; 468-7983.


Striving for Imprefection: Power of imagination

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 1:36am

I realize that not too long ago, I wrote about earthquakes. Prior to that, I referenced flooding in Texas. Please forgive me if yet again, I refer to the natural power of our Mother Earth in learning a lesson. Having said that…since natural disasters are everywhere and unavoidable, if you had to choose where to live, based solely on the ability to escape the catastrophes prone to that geographic region, where would you choose?

Hurricanes do a heck of a lot of damage on a very wide scale, but due to technology, they no longer “sneak” up on us. We know they’re coming and prepare. So, one might choose to live on the southern coast of the United States as the odds are pretty good that these monster storms can be avoided. Flooding and wildfires provide less advance notice yet they impact a smaller region, ergo the odds of being affected are lessened; maybe you therefore opt for the upper Midwest or Rockies.

What prompted this sullen query was a stand-up comic who concluded that residents of the Golden State take the prize for scariest place to live — based on the sheer unpredictability of earthquakes (and if one is keeping count; the number we have experienced lately on the Northcoast of California). As he pointed out, as life-altering as a major nor’easter might be, it’s not like you’re walking down the street on a clear day and suddenly 15 feet of snow get dumped on your noggin. Earthquakes are stealthful; exploding without warning while inflicting the full power of Mother Nature in seconds.

As frightening as they are however, I would be terrified to live in “tornado alley,” as we have time and time again witnessed with horror as these large tornados ripped apart the center of country. To study and track these monster whirlwinds, we rely in part on the skills of “storm chasers,” (crazy? brave?) men and women who pursue twisters. Of course, with such a dangerous occupation, sometimes “stuff happens.” I recall a story of a few years back when a truck carrying one of these men was lifted by a cyclone and hurled several hundred feet. Amazingly, the driver survived intact.

A reporter interviewing this fortunate victim asked him what he was thinking as he was being tossed about like a leaf in a storm. Until that moment, the man was remarkably composed, relaxed, and speaking very matter-of-factly about the experience; relaying what happened.

In response to the reporter’s simple query, everything transformed. His expression, body language, and demeanor changed immediately. Dropping his gaze from the interviewer to the ground, his shoulders slumped, his breathing changed, he covered his eyes, and he attempted to collect his thoughts. Upon regaining his composure, he chokingly replied “My wife. I was thinking that I might never see her again.” And as the words came from his lips, water came from his eyes.

His wife was not on camera. As far as I know, she might not even have been in the same state. Yet, she was as near to him in that moment as these words are to you right now. By merely changing the image in his mind’s eye, he was instantly transported to a place far away; as actual to him as the chair on which he sat.

This genuine, intimate moment of the human condition was testament to the power of how what we picture shapes who we are.

Sure, we can discuss with logical precision until the cows come home our plans, ambitions, and aspirations. We can design spreadsheets and write lists of action items. Yet, too often we remain stagnant in the pursuit of our dreams because we do not “see” nor feel the results of our plans. Yet, one private intimate image elevated from sub consciousness to consciousness generates without delay a full-body, all-consuming reaction.  We change.

There is no more influential reality than that which we visualize in our mind. It therefore becomes the most powerful trigger for change — or stagnation.

Imagine well; your life is what you see it to be.

About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is the CRP (Chief Recovering Perfectionist) of He is available for coaching, speaking, and reminders of what really matters at 707.442.6243 or 

Vernon McNamee retires from MTA “Flight Duty”

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 1:14am

“Flight 75, you’re cleared for take-off.”

“Roger that. I’m rolling.”

Wednesday, Feb. 6, was the last time that once-familiar conversation was heard at Mendocino Transit Authority (MTA), and it was spoken with deep affection between Jacob King, MTA’s operations manager who long ago manned MTA’s dispatch center, and Vernon McNamee, former Vietnam helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft pilot and more recently MTA south coast bus driver.

They recited the old mantra over cake as McNamee rolled into formal retirement from his third career after 19 years at MTA.  He was honored by MTA staff and fellow crew with cheers and many stories. The cake was festooned with toy aircraft.

“He’s an amazing man with many talents; he’ll be missed,” said Candy Lodge, MTA’s south coast supervisor.  McNamee served as back-up supervisor when Lodge was out of town.

“It’s been a fun job: I don’t do anything I don’t like,” McNamee said of driving for MTA. He turned serious for a moment and allowed that there were a few white-knuckle times during Vietnam when he didn’t like what he was doing.

Vernon is known for a steady hand on the wheel and clear-eyed view of the world and its people. “You never leave anyone behind,” he said.  That’s why when the Navarro and Garcia Rivers flooded a few years ago when McNamee was training new driver Richard Spencer, they drove the MTA bus over Greenwood Road to Philo and on to Ukiah.  Then to get passengers back home, they drove from Ukiah south to Santa Rosa and then west to Route 1 and up the south coast. It was a 15-hour day, but no one was stranded.

McNamee has led a charmed life shaped by his 22 years of active duty in the United States Army, many interests, and a great sense of humor.  He earned an undergraduate bachelor of science degree in agricultural engineering while in the ROTC, survived two tours of duty flying in Vietnam, and worked all over the world for the Army.  During those years, he flew reconnaissance aircraft for the InterAmerican Geodetic Survey that mapped south and central America. On his second tour with the geodetic survey in Brazil, McNamee met his wife, Rosa, a Registered Nurse in Brazil and California. They’ve been together 32 years. He and Rosa have raised, shown and rescued Basset hounds. He speaks three languages and a smattering of several others.

After he retired from the Army, McNamee earned a second BS degree, in law.  That second BS was earned by “learning to never say in seven minutes what we could say in an hour and a half,” he jokes. He worked for 12 years as a trial attorney in Brazil and retired a second time.

When Vernon and Rosa settled on family land in Anchor Bay, McNamee embarked on a third career piloting MTA’s Route 75 bus that carries passengers from Gualala to Point Arena and Navarro before turning right onto highway 128 to Philo and Boonville then left and downhill on the highway 253 “Boonville grade” to Ukiah, returning the same day. The bus runs the curvy 200-mile roundtrip route once daily Monday through Saturday and tallies more than 5,000 passenger trips a year.

His passengers “are great people,” McNamee said. When he gets the occasional trouble-maker on board, he asks himself why the person is like that.  If he can’t figure it out, then he asks the troublemaker to explain why he or she is like that. He’s heard some interesting answers and often the question quiets them down, he said.

On his last trip behind the wheel of Route 75 on Wednesday, McNamee picked up regular passengers Estella and Antonio on the south coast.  He greeted the couple as they stepped aboard and, as always, Estella gave McNamee a piece of candy wrapped in waxed paper.

A while later, as he started down the Boonville grade toward Ukiah, McNamee called into MTA dispatch, “Flight 75, descending. Estimating library three five.”