Off the Record (April 17, 2019)

SIMULTANEOUSLY HILARIOUS and serious, a website called “Indeed” has posted responses from County employees to the question: What is it like to work for Mendocino County.

(1) A downtrodden, nepotistic mess. Librarian (Former Employee) – Ukiah. There's not much positive to say here, so I am just going to run down a list of quick faults.

Working for the county, it becomes apparent almost immediately that the 'best people' are rarely promoted. Rather, the majority of the managers advanced due to a combination of nepotism or 'who they knew' in high school. Most lifers are only marking time until they retire, and advancement is offered to those who have 'put in their time' rather than people who are going to innovate or advance.

(2) Financial waste is everywhere. Without going into specifics, it is crystal clear that there is almost zero accountability when it comes to spending tax dollars in a frivolous manner. I haven't directly observed fraud (though I strongly suspect the county is rife with it), but I have seen enough squandering of resources to make me ill.

(3) Training almost always boils down to lectures and nothing more. Not one of the managers I encountered had even the slightest notion of how to teach someone to do a job. Often, I was placed in a position where I was told to, say, observe an employee for an hour (not actually performing any tasks myself), and then expected to be well-versed in doing that employee's job the following day. That is NOT how you train people.

(4) My position suffered acutely from 'multi-manager syndrome' — I had at least three, and sometimes four, people giving me orders. Often, these directives were contradictory; in every circumstance, it was apparent that the managers didn't speak to each other.

(5) My direct manager was almost never in the office - she was present at her desk - no exaggeration - MAYBE 5 hours a week. Every other second was eaten up either in 'meetings,' or via some form of leave. It's like the woman didn't work. 

(6) My position was completely misrepresented prior to my hiring. I was told I would be performing a role that never really emerged; instead, I was essentially reduced to serving as an over-educated secretary.

(7) The building I worked in suffered from obvious mold issues.

(8) Pay, at least for my position, was dramatically below the standard elsewhere in the state. An employee doing my job for a county nearer to San Francisco could expect to make upwards of TWICE of what I was being paid. Cost of living aside, that's an enormous and - frankly - irreconcilable gap. I don't care if 'Mendocino County is poor' - they need to offer competitive compensation.

(9) The county itself feels decidedly like a place that was lost to time, and not in a good way. There is a distinct lack of services, recognizable food venues, the Walmart looks like it was the first one ever built, the roads are all in horrible shape, etc. As an outsider moving in, it was an immediate and harsh culture shock - like a 'little slice of Appalachia' tucked into Northern California'.

(10) Pros? I wasn't directly chained to the wall. Cons? Everything else.

MEANWHILE, out at Mendocino College, a student in a psychology class was startled by the instructor's statement that "The reason the suicide rate is higher among white males over 60 is because they can't handle not being in control of things anymore." Challenging that assertion, the student was warned against being "disruptive."

ERIC SWALWELL is a Bay Area congressman who has joined twenty-plus other Democrats running for President. "I will be the first candidate to say that reducing gun violence has to be a top three issue," Swalwell told Esquire magazine. "Last year I wrote a bill calling for a buyback and ban on assault weapons — not just to ban future manufacturing, but to just take the 15 million that are out there and buy them back." Swalwell stated that the buyback is mandatory. "I'm the only candidate calling for a mandatory national ban and buyback of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons. It's bold and will cost money, but it is constitutional and it rightly treats gun violence as a life-or-death matter. Our children deserve better than an attempt to reduce or contain gun violence. Our goal must be to end it." 

A MANDATORY, publicly-funded gun buy back? A gun nut immediately took on-line issue, warning that mandatory anything having to do with guns would touch off a civil war. Swalwell's reply: "The government has nukes." (!) 

THE KID isn’t ready to steer the ship of state, assuming it’s not all the way onto the rocks by election time. All of the announced candidates, except Bernie and Liz, strike me about as pertinent to the presidency as a group of high school students running for Junior Prom Commissioner. 

A LETTER making the HumCo rounds is titled "Rex Bohn must resign" and begins, "Recently, I was informed that Supervisor Rex Bohn made a statement at a non-profit fundraiser about Mexican food, asking if it was authentic enough to ‘make you want to go out and steal hub caps.’ Several reliable sources directly heard the comment...." 

BOHN says he apologizes even if he doesn't remember saying it, and even if he did, it seems from here the slur warrants only an, Excuse me, Rex, that's not funny. Bohn’s apology for the "joke" he doesn't remember telling of course isn’t enough for the regressive progressives of HumCo who demand he resign. 

IT COULD (NOT) HAPPEN HERE but should: New York mayor Bill de Blasio has threatened irresponsible parents with a $1,000 fine if they don’t get themselves and their children vaccinated. 

SURPRISE! BERN'S A MILLIONAIRE. According to The New York Times, Sanders said his tax returns are likely to be less interesting than Trump's, but he'd made big dough from the book he wrote after the 2016 election. “I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.” He remains, however, among the least prosperous members of the Senate.

A READER NOTES: California gas prices have risen almost a dollar over the last month to reach an average of $4.20 a gallon — and analysts said it's going to get worse. Then, on July 1st, a 5.6-cent increase in the gas tax is scheduled to kick in. From my depressing weekly visits to the pumps, the grocery store and everywhere else prices continue to rise. And mainstream economists keep on saying inflation “is under control.” Every year about this time, as America hits the summertime road, oil industry “analysts” are trotted out to explain the extortionate fuel price jump: “Well, you see, we had a couple of refinery fires out there in the Gulf, the West Coast is down for maintenance, there were floods in the Midwest and, like, pay or walk.” Meanwhile, the U.S. has become an oil exporter for the first time in years.

A PASSING REFERENCE from the Press Democrat’s abbreviated coverage of Sonoma County’s budget woes caught our eye. The Sonoma County Water Agency, which owns 80% of the water stored in Lake Mendocino and markets it to other water agencies in Sonoma County and Marin, has a huge budget surplus derived from Mendo’s water, but which is not available to help close either Mendo's or Sonoma County’s budget deficits. 

“SONOMA WATER AGENCY, with a $253 million preliminary budget, has its own income stream, largely derived from the sale of Russian River water to 600,000 residents in Sonoma and Marin counties. “You have more money than God,” Supervisor Susan Gorin told water agency chief Grant Davis. ($253 million is almost as much as Mendo’s entire budget.)

OF COURSE the PD wouldn’t mention that SoCo’s water agency is selling Mendocino County water drawn mostly from the Eel River via the Potter Valley diversion as SoCo’s water agency sets aside the water in their own Lake Sonoma reservoir for the jet ski brigades, which is also largely Mendo water, Lake Sonoma’s primary catchment area lying mostly in Mendo County. 

WHEN FORMER SUPERVISOR John Pinches suggested that Mendo look into revising the deal with Sonoma County Water Agency based on the fact that much of the water in Lake Sonoma originates in Mendocino County and therefore Mendo should get some share of the Water Agency’s huge profits, his fellow Supes — including current Supervisors Brown, McCowen and Gjerde — scoffed and wouldn’t even second his motion just to look into it. 

SO NOW, all that money made off our water just sits there in the Sonoma County Water Agency's coffers, not even available to Sonoma County itself! 

AMONG DEMOCRATS, the only ones that seem plausible to me are the young ones grouped around Ocasio-Cortez and the old ones represented by Bernie and Elizabeth Warren. What's striking about the rightwing opposition to the young ’uns is that their opposition is expressed in almost the identical rhetoric their grandfathers applied to Roosevelt, whose economic prescriptions were to the left of any of the current Democrats who so terrify Fox News. The plutocracy knows that once Americans get a few programs that actually help them — Social Security and Medicare — there’s no going back, hence the hysteria from them about fair taxation and Medicare for all. 

TRUE TO FORM, NPR’s morning's news invited a pr lady from Kaiser to say that MediCare for all probably isn't practical, which is what Kaiser and other health insurance plans are obviously going to say because it would mean the end of them, although all single payer plans everywhere in the world allow people to keep their private health insurance.

THE SCHOOL PLAYGROUND down the street is a grass expanse of about half an acre. My grandchildren are students there. It's not a dog park, but it's often used as one when school is not in session, although there are signs posted on the fencing that dogs are unwelcome. This morning two women of, I dunno, sixty or so, were chatting as their five dogs romped on the grass, occasionally pausing to relieve themselves. "Excuse me ladies but this is a children's playground. Dogs aren't supposed to be in here." They stared at me. I suddenly felt like a milk monitor, a busy body, the kid the teacher counts on to snitch off all the kids who misbehaved while she was out of the room. But, hells bells, who wants their kids rolling around in a canine urinary tract? One woman simply glared while the other one said, "These are our children." And they resumed chatting as if I weren't there, and I wasn't. Pathos had defeated me.

VIRTUE SIGNALING. What a genius phrase! And certainly a timely one, what with tangible virtue signals popping up everywhere announcing that the property owner is a good person who believes in good things. Today, I spotted a sign in Novato that says, "Engage, Inspire, Empower." Which is what I'd tried to do that very morning when I tried to keep the dogs off the playground grass. But I went one for three: I'd Engaged but whiffed badly on Inspire, mooting Empower totally.

ON LINE COMMENT by Marilyn Davin “The #MeToo Movement has dropped another turd from the sky - this one on Joe Biden's blameless head. Having once lived within the bosom of an affectionate and exuberant Irish-American family, I see the big-hearted, politician's chaste hugs for what they are: expressions of his sincere empathy with the worries, trials, and tribulations of the men, women, and children he meets. It's an emotional connection, expressed in a harmless, asexual, fleeting physical way. Biden has few public defenders on this issue; politicians are terrified of a #MeToo backlash that would instantly sink their careers (if they're men), or brand them as traitors to their sex (if they're women). Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H.Murthy ruffled more than a few feathers when he added isolation and loneliness to his list of major American health issues. In our culture It's much more comfortable to talk about smoking, obesity, and drugs. This stain is already spreading to the next generation and we need to stop it. My daughter is a high school teacher, and if she came upon a student sobbing in adolescent angst she could probably get away with putting a comforting arm around her. It would have to a "her," of course. If she touched a male student some kid with a phone would snap a pic, show it to his or her parents, and be labeled a pervert. Which, incidentally, Joe Biden is not.”

JUST READ a rough draft of Katy Tahja's "An Eclectic History of Mendocino County." Ms. T is the first person to give it go — ever, and I think she's about to present us with an invaluable overview of this over-large, always tumultuous county, whose history previously has only been available in bits and pieces.

MY COLLEAGUE'S remark re McGuire's fake Rails to Trails scheme is worth repeating: "There will never be a trail. There was never going to be a train. It’s was and is a scam to pay Bosco back under the guise of something that sounds good to credulous politicians and a few key political saps who they’ve deceived for their support. It will be modeled after the train scam which only needed a few miles of track and a few trains moving a few times a month with no real passengers or freight just for appearances sake. There WILL be funding, of course, to support the usual gaggle of local Democrats who will manage the endless planning that will never produce any actual trail. Stogner or his political equivalent (Jim Mastin?) will be appointed and paid handsomely to oversee the scam. Remember when the Cultural Services Agency was formed it was supposed to upgrade the administration of local inland trails? How’s that going?"

THE NORTHCOAST is the perfect place to pull off a major crime like the one the upper echelons of the Democratic Party has pulled off here. Ask yourself this question: How did former Congressman Doug Bosco, a private party, get to be an owner of the defunct Northwest Pacific Railroad? How did Bosco and an insider group of Democrats get to run what was left of the Railroad? Why do they own the track from Santa Rosa to Eureka? How does the SMART train fiasco fit? 

THIS MASSIVE SCAM is ongoing, its latest manifestation is McGuire's rails to trails sub-scam energetically promoted by Bosco's newspaper (and affiliated press release reporting up and down the coast) the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Yes, Bosco owns it, too, him and several clones. And, by extension, also owned by the organized Democrats of Sonoma, Mendo, Humboldt, and maybe even Lake County insofar as Lake County is organized in any sense of the term. The railroad theft doesn't even rise to the conspiracy level, just opportunists doing their thing behind a facade of fey liberalism.

THE NORTHCOAST is a one-party state mired in corporate liberalism of the Bosco cash and carry type, but about to go to a long overdue war with itself over the Bernie-Cortez threat to the Huffman-McGuire-Wood-Bosco types dominant since forever, or at least since Kennedy Democrat, Clem Miller, went to Congress from the Northcoast.

MENDOCINO SPRING POETRY CELEBRATION * MAY 12

Sunday, May 12, 2019

44th Anniversary

16th consecutive revival

Mendocino Spring Poetry Celebration

at the Hill House in Mendocino town on the coast.

This event draws some 40 poets from northern California and beyond. Two open readings: afternoon and evening.

Noon: sign up and gather; afternoon reading at 1:00.

Break: enjoy the town, the sea and the headlands.

5:00 PM: sign up and gather; evening reading at 6:00.

Choice comestibles. Open book displays. Contribution requested.

All poems considered for broadcast by Dan Roberts on KZYX&Z.

Info: Gordon Black, (707) 937-4107, gblack@mcn.org

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

 (1) I’m sure people would want to know if their oncologist owned a mortuary. Or if their financial advisor had $200,000 in student loan debt and was in arrears. Or if their dentist was a paranoid schizophrenic with sadistic tendencies. Or if their son’s teacher was a convicted pederest. Or if their accountant was a tax cheat. But Trumptards would have us believe it is wrong, nay it is evil, that we should want to know if these things are true about our freakin’ president. Do you see how far out of touch they are? It’s out where the buses don’t run. It’s where the streets have no name. It’s where the rainbow ends. 1024 La La Land, Aurora Borealis, Milky Way.

 (2) I don’t think there’s anything unreasonable in demanding that people either have paperwork proving vaccination or are vaccinated at the border if they wish to enter your country for whatever reason. Or indeed accept a period of quarantine (in decent conditions). We oblige people to do that with their pets, for goodness’ sake. I hitch-hiked to Tunisia in the 70s and got all my vaccinations before I left home. On our arrival back in Marseille we all had to queue to have our papers checked as there had been a cholera outbreak in Tunisia while we were there. In addition to the European holidaymakers on the boat, there were large numbers of Tunisian workers returning to France after their annual break home. Being students travelling on a shoestring, we were on the budget deck with the Tunisian workers and not on the top deck with the holidaymakers. The only racism in evidence was that the Marseille authorities shunted my friend and me directly to the front of the long queue to have our papers checked because we were European. It was embarrassing.

MCOE Board meeting - Superintendent's Raise

The new county superintendent has made it her first priority to ask for a raise. The links below are to the parts of the meeting in which the merits of the raise were discussed. (The board granted the raise on a 3/2 vote.) Sorry about the quality of the sound. It was taped by a private citizen. Thanks for the good work you do.

Donald Cruser, Board member, Mendocino County Office of Education

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