John Sakowicz

This section contains a selection of recent editorials and letters to the editor. I will be adding to it on a regular basis. Most are published in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, the Ukiah Daily Journal orKMEC Blog. The ones that appeared in the KZYX Blog are only available here. That site has been discontinued as of January 2017.

Letters to the Editor

September 4, 2015

To the Editor:

I understand why the north-south fiber optic connection failed, yesterday, September 3 — the T1 line owned by AT&T. It was cut (sabotaged?) in Hopland, here in Mendocino County.

What I don't understand is why the east-west fiber optic connection didn't kick in — the "redundant fiber," the cable that was completed in 2011, the $14.4 million, 131-mile project that state taxpayers spent $5.7 million to help finance out of the California Advanced Services Fund.

That redundancy promised to forever end days like yesterday, in which not only everyday residential customers are cut off from the outside world, but especially law enforcement, emergency services and other governmental agencies, and banks and all sorts of other ATM facilities, also lose their connection to the outside world.

That redundant line is not owned by AT&T. It's owned by PG&E. AT&T has to rent bandwidth on that line, if it wants to provide redundancy to its customers. Therefore, one can reasonably conclude that both AT&T and PG&E were both complicit in cutting northern California off from the outside world.

And so, I'm wondering: Does yesterday's outrage have some connection to Jade Helm, a domestic military exercise currently taking place throughout the country?

Remember that Jade Helm's playbook is intended to see how the U.S. military performs after the declaration of martial law. Troops engaging in the exercise assume the roles of either occupying or resistance forces. Most locations are in sparsely populated arid regions near small towns. Some participants in Jade Helm wear civilian attire and drive civilian vehicles.

The Jade Helm exercise is about about what the military now calls "asymmetrical" or unconventional warfare. Jade Helm involves United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) with other U.S Armed Forces units in multiple states, including California.

In the playbook, California is divided into north and south -- "hostile" and "friendly" to the federal government.

I'm not making this stuff up.

Jade Helm started on July 15, 2015, and will end on September 15, 2015. The announcements of these training exercises have raised concerns that have been characterized by The New York Times as "travers[ing] the outer edges of political paranoia."

Paranoia or not, the fact remains that the military is conducting training exercises outside of their bases during Jade Helm. The military is training in cities, towns, and rural areas all across the country. This is unprecedented in our history.


Here at KMEC Radio, we've touched on Jade Helm in several of our shows. During these shows, we experienced some interference with the phone calls of our call-in guests, and/or we experienced problems with the webstream. This is not a regular occurrence for us. We take great pride in our station's digital platform. So why the interference? I don't know. But I have a few theories.

Please support KMEC Radio. We do fearless, important radio. And we are all-volunteer.

No paid staff. Just content.

KMEC Radio. Radio without censorship. Radio without borders.

John Sakowicz

KMEC Radio at the Mendocino Environmental Center


July 30, 2016


To the Editor:

I am writing as a public citizen only, and not on behalf of any group or organization.

On Friday, July 29, the world’s biggest pension fund posted the worst annual performance since the global financial crisis started in 2008, with losses exacerbated by unfavorable currency moves and a foray into equity markets.

Japan’s $1.3 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) lost 3.8 percent in the year ended March 31, or 5.3 trillion yen ($51 billion), the retirement manager said in Tokyo. That’s the biggest drop since the fiscal year ended March 31, 2009. GPIF lost 10.8 percent on domestic equities and 9.6 percent on shares in other markets, while Japanese bonds handed the fund a 4.1 percent gain.

The annual loss -- GPIF’s first since doubling its allocation to stocks and paring domestic bond holdings in October 2014 -- came during a volatile stint for markets. Japanese shares sank 13 percent in the year through March while the yen climbed 6.7 percent against the dollar, reducing returns from overseas investments. The only asset class to post a profit was local debt, which jumped in value as the Bank of Japan’s adoption of negative interest rates sent yields tumbling.

Sid Cooperrider and I have a widely followed public affairs radio show at KMEC -- we have a very powerful digital platform and a large Internet audience -- and possible guests for show about GPIF are now speaking publicly about the huge pension fund loss in Japan.

"The results are painful," said Masahiro Ichikawa, a senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. "Because GPIF is a pension fund, they need to have a long-term outlook, so I don’t think we can say yet that GPIF took on too much risk. It was a harsh investment environment for most of us."

At a press conference in Tokyo on July 29 at which KMEC was registered as a webcast participant, GPIF President Norihiro Takahashi said he will reflect on the performance, but that the current portfolio has enough flexibility to adapt to different market conditions and he wants to run the fund steadily. Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief government spokesman, said GPIF’s management shouldn’t be influenced by short-term moves and there is absolutely no issue with its financing short-term pension obligations to retirees.

But here's the rub.

The prevailing thought among pension managers is that because pensions are managed on a 50-year time horizon, losses like the one suffered at GPIF in Japan shouldn't matter much. I strongly disagree. Anyone who has seen the 2015 docudrama, "The Big Short", starring film stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt, and nominated for five Academy Awards, knows differently. Wall Street is a casino, and all the games are rigged. The house always wins over the long-term. Customers always lose over the long-term.

My point? My point is that investing in stocks and bonds is not the only game in town. Pension systems, like our own here in Mendocino County, can create "community wealth funds" that invest in local assets and in local people.

Local assets, like farmland, timberland, water rights, and infrastructure projects, could be an attractive diversification away from Wall Street's rigged game.

Community wealth funds can also invest in industrial and/or commercial real estate, like the former Masonite property which Ross Liberty now owns, thus becoming a tax-advantaged landlord for new local businesses. Those tax advantages can be passed on to tenants in the form of lower rents.

Community wealth funds can buy defaulted bank loans and/or foreclosed residential real estate mortgages at steep discounts, thus restructuring businesses that are in trouble and/or keeping families in their homes. This restructured debt could offer our pension system the possibility of both capital gains and good income, while doing some real good.

Finally, community wealth funds can invest in local people. How? By setting up kickstarter funds for local economic development.

I'm not suggesting that our pension system sell its entire portfolio of stocks and bonds and move whole hog into a community wealth fund. What I am suggesting is a super-conservative allocation of 1-2% of our $450 million portfolio as an experiment -- with a high priority being placed on local investments that are safe and in the areas of developing the green economy, food systems, cooperatives (co-ops), reclaiming the commons, municipal enterprise, and social enterprise.

If the 1-2% allocation works out, double it.

It's just an idea. But the $51 billion pension fund loss in Japan in just one year takes my breath away. Think about it -- $51 billion is bigger than the entire GNP of a lot of countries. It's not just a paper loss. It's real loss. Real hardship.

Little Mendocino County can do better. We can be a thought leader. Just as we have been about solar and sustainable living and cannabis and redwoods preservation and a whole lot of other things.


October 21, 2016


To the Editor:

Here's why I'm voting No on Proposition 62 and Yes on Proposition 66 here in California..

On October 19, the State of Georgia executed a particularly loathsome fellow. Let me tell you about him. His name is Gregory Lawler. And he's a cop killer. But he's more than just a cop killer.

I'm a progressive liberal on most issues and generally opposed to the death penalty, but, as a former member of the Mendocino County Sheriff Department, Lawler's case deeply disturbs me. Death is an appropriate sentence. More than appropriate.

Why? Because Lawler didn't just kill a cop, and severely wound another cop, a young single mother, leaving her with a permanent brain injury. Lawler shot at them 15 times with an AR-15 assault rifle. And his AR-15 was loaded body armor-piercing ammo.

Additionally, neither officer had unholstered their sidearms. In fact, Lawler shot them in back, as they were running away from him.

Finally, the fact that Lawler pursued the officers out of his apartment -- three shell casings were found inside the apartment and 12 shell casings were found outside of the apartment -- while shooting the whole time, seals the deal. A witness even testified that Lawler was observed standing over the dead cop as he fired repeatedly into his lifeless body.

This was barbaric slaughter.

See the opinion of Chief Justice Harris Hines of the Supreme Court of Georgia:

The lesson to be learned by cops? Stand and fight. If you hear gunshots, don't run from the shooting. Run towards the shooting. Pull your gun, find cover, acquire the target, and start firing and keep firing until the threat is neutralized.

And the lesson for the people of California voting on the death penalty this November? Vote No on Prop 62 and Yes on Prop 66.

The people of California should uphold the death penalty, and speed up the appeals process, especially when the case involves "special circumstances".

Those special circumstances should include the following: murder of a police officer, federal agent, or firefighter; murder of a child; murder of a pregnant woman; murder involving torture; murder while trying to prevent arrest or escape; murder in commission of a felony; lying in wait; murder because of race, religion, or nationality; murder carried out for financial gain; prior murder conviction; multiple murder convictions; murder of a witness; murder of a prosecutor, judge, government official, or juror; murder by bomb or destructive device; murder by poison; drive-by shootings; and murder by a street gang member.

Thank you.

-- John Sakowicz

Ukiah, CA


Daily Journal

Is pension reform at hand?

POSTED: 01/05/17, 3:00 AM PST | UPDATED: ON 01/06/2017 5 COMMENTS

Is pension reform at hand?

To the Editor:

On Nov. 22, 2016, the California Supreme Court unanimously granted the petition for review of the Court of Appeal decision in Marin Ass’n of Public Employees v. Marin County Employees’ Retirement Association (Case No. S237460)

The recent decision by the California Supreme Court to hear the Marin County pension reform case will finally and conclusively decide whether future public employee pension benefits by current government workers across California can be cut.

In August, the California’s 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco ruled that the California Legislature can indeed trim public employee retirement benefits for workers who are still on the job.

The appellate court’s decision this summer was unanimous, and it was sweeping in its implications for meaningful pension reform. It rejected the widely held assumption that benefits cannot be reduced once employees start working. That constraint has hindered attempts statewide, and in charter cities such as in San Jose, to meaningfully stem soaring taxpayer costs for pensions.

The three-justice appellate court panel concluded, "So long as the Legislature’s modifications do not deprive the employee of a ‘reasonable’ pension, there is no constitutional violation" of government workers’ rights."

Union lawyers immediately appealed to the Supreme Court, and so, here we are today. The Supreme Court took the case.

Here’s some background.

The appellate court decision came in a Marin County case pertaining to pension spiking, the inflation of workers’ final salaries on which the retirement payment calculations are based. The case stems from 2012 legislation passed to correct a gaping loophole that was exposed in Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed pension plan.

The appellate court decision affects similar spiking lawsuits in Contra Costa, Alameda and Merced counties. But, much more significantly, the decision might allow alteration of underlying pension formulas statewide.

The bottom line?

The cost of the extra benefits and the failure to properly set aside funds to later pay the benefits has left California taxpayers with hundreds of billions of dollars of debt — what the appellate court called "the alarming state of unfunded public pension liabilities."

So, why not roll back to the old formula for employees’ future years of work? Because it would be unfair to cut benefits for the work employees have already put in. Hence, the issue before the California Supreme Court will be whether pension accruals for future labor could be reduced to more affordable levels.

But the state Supreme Court ruled more than two decades ago that future accruals are promises that government cannot impair without violating the contract clauses of the state and federal constitutions. Essentially, workers’ pension formulas can be increased during their working years but never decreased.

It has been dubbed the "California Rule," what University of Minnesota law professor Amy Monahan calls "one of the most protective legal approaches for public employee pension benefits of any state in the country."

Some experts have questioned the legal foundation of the California Rule and suggested the state Supreme Court should revisit it. The Court of Appeal in the Marin case just teed up that issue.

The decision upholds pension-law changes passed on the last day of the legislative session in 2012. At the time, Gov. was pressing to control pension costs.

But details of his plan were kept secret until the last moment. On the eve of the vote, it was reported that Brown’s package had a loophole that would increase pension-spiking opportunities.

A last-minute scramble for corrective legislation produced AB 197. The bill, affecting 20 county-level pension systems across California, limited the pay items that could be counted as compensation when calculating public employees’ pensions.

The Marin Association of Public Employees sued, claiming that, under the California Rule, historical pension spiking could not be stopped unless employees’ losses were offset by comparable new compensation.

The appellate court disagreed. If appellate decision is upheld, it would dramatically improve the chances for significant pension reform in California.

Disclaimer: Although I am a member of the Retirement Board, I do not speak on their behalf. The opinions expressed in this article are mine alone. I speak as a private citizen only.

— John Sakowicz, Ukiah


Daily Journal

New San District appointee says suit is winnable


New San District appointee says suit is winnable

To the Editor:

On the merits, UVSD’s lawsuit vs. the City of Ukiah is winnable. Both the facts and the law support UVSD (Ukiah Valley Sanitation District). The evidence, although going back many years and a bit esoteric, as it’s based on a lot of forensic accounting, is strong.

The case is winnable for the UVSD, but at what cost? That is the question.

Personally, I love the idea of a consolidated water and sewer district in the Ukiah Valley. As a start, I think the City should transfer its sewer interests to UVSD. I’ll explain.

Cities should primarily be in the business of public safety — police, fire, ambulance and emergency medical services, and inspection and code enforcement — and not in the business of public utilities. I don’t know how it came to pass that Ukiah, a small city of only 17,000 people, became an "empire" of public utilities — electric, water, sewer, plus all of Ukiah’s RDA redevelopment) projects.

Nor should a small city like Ukiah have a payroll of over 300 employees, nor be paying its city manager a total compensation package of $251,669 in 2016, with numerous other city employees making more than $200,000 (in total pay and benefits)

The Anderson Valley Advertiser recently reported that, according to Transparent, there were 36 people making over $100,000 as Ukiah employees in 2015, the last year posted. With benefits, that number rose to over 100 people getting over $100,000 in pay and benefits and 11 making over $200,000 in total pay and benefits. That’s almost criminal in the City of Ukiah where per capita income is only $23, 443 and the median family income is only $42,237, where unemployment remains high at close to the national average of 5.10 percent, and job growth is a minuscule 0.19 percent (data from Sperlings).

Back in November, the City of Ukiah claimed to be so broke it needed to pass a special tax to fix its potholes, remember?

What a bunch of baloney!

Ukiah has money, but it spends money on the wrong things, like a bloated payroll. High taxes only provide so much revenue. And therefore, the City of Ukiah does a lot of creative accounting to come up with enough "soft dollars" to cover its budget shortfalls. That creative accounting includes Ukiah’s long history of over-billing the UVSD.

Another example of the City’s creative accounting is its shell game with "enterprise funds". I’ll cite just one example. Remember the old Vichy Springs dump? Closed in 2001, it has yet to be capped and sealed, despite raising the ire of state and federal environmental agencies. Why? Why the delay of 15 years in the environmentally fragile Sulphur Creek watershed area?

Why, indeed? Is the money really there in an enterprise fund to fund the cap and seal job? Or does the City play a game of find-the-pea with its various enterprise funds to cover shortfalls in other areas?

Ukiah also played lots of games with its RDA. It charged off varying percentages of employee salaries for everyone from the city manager to the maintenance guy who emptied the office wastepaper baskets at night.

Meaning what?

Meaning the City of Ukiah is not a sympathetic defendant. A lack of budget discipline and highly suspect accounting practices make Ukiah a less than sympathetic defendant.

I think a settlement between the UVSD and the City of Ukiah is achievable in mediation, but Ukiah will have to make concessions. In any case, Ukiah should also downsize and learn to live within a smaller budget, just like the County of Mendocino did after the national financial crisis of 2008.

So now what?

UVSD, for its part, must realize the crushing burden that the District’s lawsuit is putting on the City. Added together, the lost opportunity costs with "purple pipes" and other capital improvements, the lower credit rating, the missed bond refinancing, the litigation costs, and the emotional costs, are absolutely crushing for the City of Ukiah.

The case is winnable for UVSD, but at what cost? That is the question for UVSD.

What is the middle ground? What’s fair? What’s realistic? How do we get there from here?

I pray the resolution happens sooner than later. After all, we all live here. We’re all neighbors. And the clock is ticking on attorney fees.

A friend recently wrote to me: "I think the best way to a resolution is with less vitriol. Emotions have no place in business decisions. I am hopeful you can be the CO2, not the gasoline, on the fire. If you could move the needle toward reconciliation and away from antagonism, you would be a hero in our community."

Good advice.

Disclaimer: Although I am a recent appointee to the UVSD Board of Directors, I do not speak on their behalf. I speak as a private citizen only. The opinions expressed in this op-ed are mine alone.

— John Sakowicz, Ukiah



KZYX Editorial

The New World Order -- Juarez, Mexico

Posted by Guest on Saturday, 19 January 2013 Hits: 2523

Want to see a preview of the New World Order? It's Juarez, Mexico, where the witless, heedless, heartless machinery of "market fundamentalism" -- or "late capitalism," or whatever other name you'd like to give to the unrestrained greed of our financial and political elites -- has come to its logical, horrific culmination.

The end game is guns, drugs, and gangs. It's lawlessness. It's trash and cash. It's the corruption and criminalization of everything. It's death in the streets.

The United States of America take note. This is your future. Juarez, Mexico.

And what of the financial and political elite? What will become of them in the New World Order?

They'll absolutely thrive. More money. More power. More, more, more. The financial and political elites see only opportunity in chaos. Ultimately, they take control of everything by declaring marshal law. It is happening here in Mexico. It will happen next in the United States of America.

I see this quite clearly.

— at Bulldog Bar Cd. Juarez



KZYX Editorial

Let people know you are doing the right thing

John D. Rockefeller Sr once said, "Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing." With the NFL so dependent on public dollars for its municipal stadiums, replacing Goodell is not only the right ethical decision, it's the right business decision; it's the right decision for public. Here's why. The NFL paid Roger Goodell $44.2 million in total compensation last year. That's a lot of money for Goodell to have failed so miserably. By firing Goodell, the NFL can let governments and people know it is once again making the right decision.

Once again? A little background. The decision to replace the NFL's embattled commissioner today has a parallel in a 1968 decision. Past is prologue. It can guide the NFL today.

In 1968 Pete Roselle was the NFL Commissioner. He hired Jack Danahy as the NFL's director of security after he retired from the FBI in 1968. Danahy replaced a guy named Bill Hundley.

Bill Hundley had been the former chief of the Justice Department's Organized Crime and Racketeering Section (OCRS). His organized crime-fighting credentials were impeccable. Despite his record and high expectations, however, he was a disappointment at the NFL. He backed off on enforcement and helped suppress NFL probes, including investigations of game-fixing; he had links to organized crime.

By 1968, Las Vegas bookies and other mobsters were starting to corrupt the NFL. A Detroit mobster named Don Dawson bragged to a reporter that he had fixed no fewer than 32 games in the 1950s and 1960s. One explanation for Hundley's behavior was his admission that he was much more comfortable, "keeping people out of jail than putting them in." (The New York Times, June 14, 2006, Hundley's obituary). He developed a fondness for the subjects of his investigations. NFL owners became increasingly critical of Hundley's role as NFL security chief. He was just too cozy with mobsters. They pressured Roselle to replace Hundley. The integrity of the NFL was central to its success.

Roselle fired Hundley. He hired Danahy. Hundley went on to a different set of clients, such as former Attorney General John N. Mitchell, convicted of obstruction of justice for his role in the Watergate Affair and flamboyant South Korean businessman Tongsun Park, for whom Hundley won immunity on a congressional bribery matter.

Danahy, on the other hand, served the NFL with distinction. From 1969 to 1980, he aggressively and effectively cleaned up the NFL. He was organized crime's worst nightmare. During this period he shot and killed an assailant in self-defense on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral. He went to Mass every day; that day a hitman was waiting for him. He brushed off the incident as a mugging gone wrong: perhaps. The incident has all the markings of a mob hit, yet it received only scant media coverage at the time. Today you can't find a single reference to the incident in a Google search.

The relevance for today of Rozelle's firing Hundley and hiring Danahy is the lesson learned. The owners should reassess Roger Goodell's fitness to continue to serve as Commissioner. The NFL needs to take a stand. Goodell should've known about the video of Ray Rice assaulting his wife in the casino elevator. Others have said this and here's why: casinos have cameras everywhere, including in elevators. Goodell knows this. The security people know this. It is also been alleged that the NFL had the videotape of Rice assaulting his wife. The NFL's investigation was weak to begin with, and now there may be a cover-up regarding the video's existence at the NFL.

Fire Goodell. The world is watching.

by John Sakowicz, Host, "All About the Money," KZYX Community Public Radio, Mendocino County, CA


September 28, 2016

Dear Ms. Diveley:

As a former attorney for the Guidiville Rancheria, you may be interested in the following op-ed I just wrote. The Pomo children of the rancheria are at real risk for lead pollution from the neighboring Ukiah Gun Club. Previous Grand Jury reports have made factual findings and cited this ongoing danger.

John Sakowicz

To: "udjkcm" <>
Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2016 2:06:54 PM
Subject: op-ed

The Problem of Lead Pollution at the Ukiah Gun Club

Outdoor shooting ranges provide recreational facilities for millions of shooting sports enthusiasts in the United States. Recently, there has been a growing public concern, including concern from neighbors of the Ukiah Gun Club, about the potential negative environmental and health effects of range operations. In particular, the public is concerned about potential risks associated with the historical and continued use of lead shot and bullets at outdoor ranges.

This concern is not unfounded. An estimated 9,000 non-military outdoor ranges exist in the United States, collectively shooting millions of pounds of lead annually. Some ranges have operated for as long as several generations. Historical operations at ranges involved leaving expended lead bullets and shot uncollected on ranges. Many of these ranges continue to operate in the same manner as in the past.

It is estimated that approximately four percent (4%) (80,000 tons/year) of all the lead produced in the United States in the late 1990’s (about 2 million tons/year), is made into bullets and shot. Taking into account rounds used off-range, and rounds used at indoor ranges, it is clear that much of this 160,000,000 pounds of lead shot/ bullets finds its way into the environment at ranges.

Since the mid-1980’s, citizen groups have brought several lawsuits against range owners and have urged federal and state agencies to take action against owners and operators of outdoor shooting ranges. The citizen groups argued that range owners improperly managed discharged lead bullets and shot. Federal courts have supported parts of these suits, requiring range owners/operators to clean up lead contaminated areas. Concurrent with the increased citizen suit activity, the federal EPA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), and a large number of states have identified human exposure to all forms of lead as a major health concern in the United States.

Lead management practices at ranges across the United States remain inconsistent. Some range owners/operators have examined the impact of range operations on human health and the environment and have implemented procedures to manage and/or remove accumulated lead from ranges. Other range owners/operators are just beginning to characterize and investigate their ranges in order to design an environmental risk prevention and/or remediation program(s) specific to their sites. A third group of ranges has adopted a "wait and see" policy – taking no action until specifically required to do so by law or clear guidance is in place. Finally, a fourth, small, but important group of range owners/operators remain unaware of lead’s potential to harm human health and the environment, and of existing federal and state laws.

To manage lead, many owners and operators have successfully implemented Best Management Practices (BMPs) at their ranges. These range owners and operators have realized many benefits from sound lead management including:

- stewardship of the environment, natural resources and wildlife,

- improved community relations,

- improved aesthetics of the range/good business practices,

- increased profitability through recovery/ recycling lead, a valuable and finite resource, and

- reduced public scrutiny, including Grand Jury investigations.

Lead Contamination's Impact on Human Health and the Environment

Exposure Routes

Historically, the three major sources for human exposure to lead are lead-based paint, lead in dust and soil and lead in drinking water. Typically, human exposure occurs through ingestion, which is the consumption of lead or lead-contaminated materials, or by inhalation. The main human exposure to lead associated with shooting ranges is through lead contaminated soil. However, other pathways are discussed below, along with lead’s detrimental effects on humans and animals.

Lead can be introduced into the environment at shooting ranges in one or more of the following ways. Each of these pathways is site-specific and may or may not occur at each individual range:

• Lead oxidizes when exposed to air and dissolves when exposed to acidic water or soil.

• Lead bullets, bullet particles, or dissolved lead can be moved by storm water runoff.

• Dissolved lead can migrate through soils to groundwater.

Lead oxidizes when exposed to air and dissolves when exposed to acidic water or soil. When lead is exposed to acidic water and/or soil, it breaks down by weathering into lead oxides, carbonates, and other soluble compounds. With each rainfall, these compounds may be dissolved, and the lead may move in solution in the storm runoff waters. Decreases in water acidity (i.e., increases in its pH) will cause dissolved lead to precipitate out of solution. Lead concentrations in solution are reduced by this precipitation. At pHs above 7.5, very little lead remains in solution. Increased time of contact between lead and acidic water generally results in an increase in the amount of dissolved lead in the storm runoff water.

Lead bullets, bullet particles or dissolved lead can be moved by storm water runoff The ability of water to transport lead is influenced by two factors: velocity of the water and weight or size of the lead fragment. Water’s capacity to carry small particles is proportional to the square of the water’s velocity. Clear water moving at a velocity of 100 feet per minute can carry a lead particle 10,000 times heavier than water moving at a velocity of 10 feet per minute. Muddy water can carry even larger particles.

Dissolved lead can migrate through soils to groundwater Acidic rainwater may dissolve weathered lead compounds. A portion of the lead may be transported in solution in groundwater beneath land surfaces. Groundwater may transport lead in solution from the higher topographic areas to the lower areas such as valleys, where it is discharged and becomes part of the surface water flow. If the water flowing underground passes through rocks containing calcium, magnesium, iron, or other minerals more soluble then lead, or through minerals that raise the pH of the water, then the lead in solution may be replaced (removed) from the solution by these other metals. However, if the soil is a clean silica sand and gravel, fractured granite, or similar type material, then the lead may move long distances in solution.

How is Lead Shot Regulated Under the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)?

The RCRA is the main body of law that applies to lead pollution at gun clubs, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the agency for enforcement of the RCRA.

Lead shot is not considered a hazardous waste subject to RCRA at the time it is discharged from a firearm, because the lead is being used for its intended purpose. As such, shooting lead shot (or bullets) is not regulated nor is a RCRA permit required to operate a shooting range. However, spent lead shot (or bullets), left in the environment, is subject to the broader definition of solid waste written by Congress and used in sections 7002 and 7003 of the RCRA statute. With reference to reclaiming and recycling lead shot, the following points should serve as guidance in understanding RCRA and how it applies to your range. (A more detailed discussion of the underlying RCRA rules applicable to lead shot removal at ranges is included in Appendix D of the EPA's "Best Management Practices for Lead at Outdoor Shooting Ranges")

• Removal contractors or reclaimers should apply standard best management practices, mentioned in this manual, to separate the lead from soil. The soil, if then placed back on the range, is exempt from RCRA. However, if the soil is to be removed off-site, then it would require testing to determine if it is a RCRA hazardous waste.

• Lead, if recycled or reused, is considered a scrap metal and is, therefore, excluded from RCRA. • Collected lead shot and bullets are excluded from RCRA regulation, and need not have a manifest, nor does a range need to obtain a RCRA generator number (i.e., the range is not a hazardous waste "generator"), provided that the lead is recycled or re-used. The reclaimer does not need to be a RCRA transporter. However, it is recommended that ranges retain records of shipments of lead to the receiving facilities in order to demonstrate that the lead was recycled. Records should also be kept whenever the lead is reused (as in reloading.) The range should be aware that it ultimately may be responsible for the lead sent for reclamation. Therefore, only reputable reclaimers should be utilized.

• Lead from ranges destined for recycling may be temporarily stored on range property after separation from soil if the lead is stored in closed, sealed containers, the containers are stored in a secure location and routinely inspected by range staff, and records of inspections are maintained.

• Sections 7002 and 7003 of the RCRA statute allow EPA, states or citizens to use civil lawsuits, to compel cleanup of or other action for "solid waste" (e.g., spent lead shot) posing actual or potential imminent and substantial endangerment. Such actions can be sought whether the range is in operation or closed, and is based solely on a determination that harm is being posed or may be posed by the range to public health and/or the environment. Since the risk of lead migrating increases with time, making ranges that have not removed lead more likely candidates for government action or citizen lawsuits under RCRA Section 7002 and 7003, ranges are advised to maintain a schedule of regular lead removal.

• With time, lead in soil can become less desirable to reclaimers and smelters, thereby potentially reducing or eliminating financial returns from lead removal. Moreover, such soil may be subject to more expensive treatment to separate the lead for recycling. • Lead removal will allow the range to: avoid contamination of the site and potential impacts to human health and the environment; reduce liability with regard to potential government agency or citizen suit action; and, possibly, benefit economically from the recycling of lead. Additional guidance on reclaiming lead is provided in other parts of this manual.

• Soil from berms and "shot fall" zones may be moved to another area of the range for such reasons as addressing potential environmental impacts (e.g., runoff), altering the layout to address safety concerns or allowing different types of shooting activities, or adding or removing shooting positions. However, removal of lead prior to such Chapter I - Page I-9 BMP for Lead at Outdoor Shooting Ranges movement of soil is normal practice and highly advised because it extends the usable life of the materials and reduces the possibility of release of lead into the environment. If lead is not first removed, it will be further dispersed and will be more difficult to remove in future reclamation. Written records of all such activity should be maintained indefinitely, as they will be necessary in subsequent construction or range closure.

• This RCRA summary applies to operating and non-operating ranges, like the Ukiah Gun Club, and the use of Best Management Practices (BMPs) at all operating ranges is highly recommended. However, because of increased risk if lead is not actively managed, such application may not preclude the need for remediation, as appropriate and/or as required by states’ regulations, when a range is permanently closed, on-site lead is abandoned, or the land use changes.

Special Note to the Neighbors of the Ukiah Gun Club: Vichy Springs Estates, Guidiville Rancheria, and Vichy Springs Resort

Introductory guidance for remediation can be found at or Look under the sections "Cleanup" or "Resources," or use the Search function.

If you want to stop lead pollution at the Ukiah Gun Club, you must take the initiative. Neither the County of Mendocino nor the City of Ukiah will take responsibility for the problem of lead pollution.

Why? Because of jurisdictional issues. The Ukiah Gun Club is a city-owned property location outside of the city limits. Whenever a problem arises at the Ukiah Gun Club, the City points at the County, and the County points at the City. This jurisdictional confusion was intended by the founders of the gun club -- a lack of responsibility by design. Numerous Grand Jury investigations came to this exact conclusion.

Legal Precedents

Here's the good news.

If you thought it's impossible to close a gun club due to high lead levels from spent bullets, you would be wrong. If you thought gun clubs can't be closed down because their members are politically influential or politically connected, including members who are themselves elected officials, or members who work for law enforcement, you would be wrong.

Recently, right here in California, the Mangan Park Gun Club in south Sacramento was shut down last year due to lead pollution and other environmental issues.


Also, there is growing awareness by the press that high levels of lead at gun clubs is a concern, especially for children.

In 2014, NBC News aired a special feature on lead pollution at gun clubs:

The Seattle Times did a similar feature in 2014:

More recently, in 2016, The Trace, an independent, nonprofit news organizzation dedicated to expanding coverage of guns in the United States, ran the following article:

It's time to take a closer look at the Ukiah Gun Club, and there's no better way than to file a complaint with the EPA. The children of Flint, Michigan, were poisoned by lead for many years. Politicians did nothing. Here in Mendocino County, the children of Vichy Springs Estates and Pomo children of the Guidiville Rancheria may also have high lead levels. And politicians also do nothing.

John Sakowicz

Ukiah, CA


October 10, 2016



FinFisher, also known as FinSpy, is surveillance software marketed by Lench IT solutions PLC with a UK-based branch Gamma International Ltd in Andover, England, and a Germany-based branch Gamma International GmbH in Munich, which markets the spyware through law enforcement channels. Gamma International is a subsidiary of the Gamma Group, specializing in surveillance and monitoring, including equipment, software, and training services, reportedly owned by William Louthean Nelson through a shell corporation in the British Virgin Islands.

Although FinFisher purports to be a company specializing in "cyber solutions for the fight against crime," it is really provides spy agencies with IT intrusive tools to spy against its own citizens.


FinFisher can be covertly installed on targets' computers by exploiting security lapses in the update procedures of non-suspect software. The company has been criticized by human rights organizations for selling these capabilities to repressive or non-democratic states known for monitoring and imprisoning political dissidents. Egyptian dissidents who ransacked the offices of Egypt's secret police following the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak reported they discovered a contract with Gamma International for €287,000 for a license to run the FinFisher software. In 2014, an American citizen sued the Ethiopian government for the surreptitious downloading of FinSpy on his computer, which was used to wiretap his private Skype calls and monitoring his entire family’s every use of the computer for a period of months.

On August 6, 2014, FinFisher source code, pricing, support history, and other related data were retrieved from the Gamma International internal network and made available on the Internet.

John at


History is still whitewashed

POSTED: 10/12/16, 3:00 AM PDT |

History is still whitewashed

To the Editor:

Why are Americans dying in the Middle East? Why are we there?

I had the pleasure of speaking with General Wesley Clark recently. I am reminded of how important his insights are as to the causes of America’s decline in power, influence, and credibility throughout the world.

These remarks (below) by General Wesley Clark about a "policy coup" are the key to understanding the never-ending war of regime changes that has become U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East ever since President George W. Bush and his cohorts from the Project for a New American Century hijacked our country.

Be it Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, and now, Syria, this policy coup has been an abject failure — costing approximately 7,000 lives of U.S. military killed, another 60,000 U.S. military wounded, and trillions of dollars in national treasure wasted — and it has directly lead to the formation of ISIS.

Approximately 210,000 Afghan, Iraqi, and Pakistani civilians have also died violent deaths as a direct result of the wars.

Civilian war deaths from malnutrition, and a damaged health system and environment, likely far outnumber deaths from combat.

The failed policy coup has also lead to a flood of war refugees in a troubled world today.

This group of subversives at the Project for a New American Century included well-known names like Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Jeb Bush, William Kristol, Henry Rowen, and Robert Kagan, of course. It also included Francis Fukuyama, Fred Iklé, Frank Gaffney, Eliot Asher Cohen, Bruce Jackson, Zalmay Khalilzad, Reuel Gerecht, Peter Rodman, Stephen Rosen, Gary Schmitt, Vin Weber, and George Weigel.

None of the above are decorated war heroes. Few are even veterans. They’re all think tank-types...talking heads, b.s. artists.

Meanwhile, General Wesley Clark is the retired 4-star U.S. Army general who was the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO during the 1999 War on Yugoslavia.

What does General Clark teach us?

He teaches us that if you want to start a war, the unwashed masses must be convinced to send their brothers, sons, and fathers to die on the front lines.

How do you do that?

General Clark tells us how.

The specter of an external enemy must be etched into the collective mind of the masses through trauma, exaggeration, and repetition. History must be whitewashed, twisted, and cherry picked down to a politicized nursery rhyme. At no point should the real motives or consequences of such wars ever be raised as a subject for national debate.

— John Sakowicz



There comes a time when history begins to repeat itself. The Indigenous occupation around the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation is such a time.

While there are many differences between the occupation of Wounded Knee in the early 1970s and the Sacred Stone encampment of today, there are many common threads. Both occupations involved the theft of Native rights by corrupt officials, and both resulted in an unnecessary use of police force and infiltrators to threaten protesters. The more recent occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by a group loosely affiliated with non-governmental militias and the sovereign citizen movement also echoes the two Native movements.

Combined, all three protests were organized to orchestrate direct action against corrupt government officials in Congress and federal agencies far away in Washington, D.C. All three protests involved issues of land use that did not take into account the needs and desires of local people. All three protests were ordained for protesters via divine inspiration. And all three protests were brutally put down by law enforcement.

Another thing. All three protests sparked a debate in the United States on the meaning of the words "terrorist" and "militant", and on how the news media and law enforcement unfairly characterize protests involving people of different ethnicities or religions.

What can President Obama do now?

There are four things that President Obama can do on his way out of the White House: 1) he can find a way to withdraw the nationwide permit for Dakota Access Pipeline construction and bring it back to lawmakers for them to fix, consulting with Tribal governments in the process; 2) stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline altogether; 3) do what Bill Clinton should have done, and pardon Leonard Peltier of the Wounded Knee occupation, and 4) direct the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the cold-blooded murder of Robert "LaVoy" Finicum of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation by agents from Oregon State Police and FBI, and to indict and vigorously prosecute them.

What can we do?

White. Black. Red. Brown. We must unite. We must come together as one. We must learn to work and fight together as one Army of Resistance.

Big government is our common enemy. A soulless, godless government is our common enemy. A faraway government motivated by greed, and greed alone, is our common enemy.

No more nukes, pipelines, fracking, and open pit mining. No more genocide.

In this fight, let us look to the buffalo -- tantanka -- for inspiration. In the Lakota language, the word "tatanka" is translated as "buffalo" or "buffalo bull."

However, according to native Lakota speakers, the literal translation is something more like "He who owns us." Lakota elder Birgil Kills Straight explains it this way:

"The four leggeds came before the two leggeds. They are our older brother -- we came from them. Before them, we were the root people, but that was a long time ago in the beginning of the world. We more recently came from the four leggeds. We are the same thing. That is why we are spiritually related to them. We call them in our language 'Tatanka,' which means 'He Who Owns Us.' We cannot say that we own the buffalo, because he owns us."

Meaning what? Meaning we do not own the land that we fight to protect. The land owns us.

And certainly -- most certainly -- corrupt government officials in Congress and federal agencies far away in Washington, D.C. do not own the land nor its buffalo.

John Sakowicz
KMEC Radio at the Mendocino Environmental Center
Ukiah, CA November 19, 2016