- Road Tax
- Veterans Choice
- CSD Raises
- Boontling Classic
- False Starter
- Abducted Children
- Ed Notes
- Biological Opinion
- Yesterday's Catch
- He Too
- Wayward Wind
- Socialism Confusion
- LakeCo Follies
- Redacted Tale
- Happy Ending
- Gas Surcharge
- False Stereotypes
- Party Platforms
- Accordion Rebel
- Writer Writing
A ROAD TAX IN YOUR FUTURE?
by Jim Shields
At last week’s meeting, the Board of Supervisors dusted off a 2016 proposal that would raise the sales tax by one-half cent to purportedly fund transportation projects in the long neglected unincorporated areas of the county.
The soonest the tax proposal could be put before voters would be in 2020, and it would require two-thirds voter approval. However, given that several other tax measures may be brought forward — for example, a possible Emergency Medical Services sales tax, — the Supes voted unanimously to send the transportation tax measure to the Board’s General Government Committee for further study. The committee was tasked with preparing an expenditure plan for proposed projects to show folks living in unincorporated areas “what they would get” if they approve the half-cent sales tax. In political parlance these project lists are better known as “pork barrel.” The Supes agreed that there should be an “equitable distribution” of the pork barrel among the five supervisorial districts thus guaranteeing that each Supe brings home the same amount of bacon.
If passed by voters, the tax would generate $2.7 million annually ($80 million over 30 years) on sales of all products subject to sales tax in the county’s unincorporated areas, i.e. it would not apply to the county’s four cities (Ukiah, Willits, Fort Bragg, and Point Arena).
According to the Mendocino County Department of Transportation (MDOT), if the new sales tax is adopted, Mendocino County would become a “Self-Help County” which means, “Self-Help Counties have a locally approved sales tax for transportation and are eligible for “Partnership” which could ‘free up’ State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) allocations. Becoming a ‘Self-Help’ County could help Mendocino get a share of state sources of funding. While a sales tax alone will not solve all of our transportation problems, implementing a transportation sales tax, approved by two-thirds of the voters of Mendocino County, opens new opportunities for leveraging or matching our local money with state sources that require a local share.”
The main reason that leveraging is so important is that the county road system is sub-standard and officials say there’s no money to fix it. Therefore, the sales tax would allow the county to bootstrap itself into accessing money currently off-limits.
In a January 8, 2019 report to the Supervisors, MDOT pointed out that it “will have an average of $5.5 million per year for the corrective maintenance program for the County’s Road System” over the next 20 years.
However, a “2016 Statewide Needs Assessment listed Mendocino County Roads as having $602 million in unmet pavement needs … it would take 109 years at $5.5 million per year” to bring county roads up to acceptable standards.
I’m familiar with 5-year plans, 10-year plans, 20-year plans, but I know I’ve never seen a 109-year plan.
You may be asking at this point, just how did the county’s road system fall into such disrepair. Good question. After all, it just didn’t happen overnight. Not surprising at all that nobody in the county seat has an answer other than, “We just need more money.”
Here’s the problem with the half-cent sales tax solution.
Most people in the unincorporated areas don’t trust county officials to do the right thing when it comes to transportation issues because for years the Board of Supervisors has ratified Department of Transportation policies and actions regarding road and bridge capital improvement projects and general road and bridge maintenance programs, that have been decidedly Ukiah Valley-centric, whereby residents in the outlying, rural districts know they have never received an equitable share of funding in their areas.
For example, in the 20-year road maintenance and repair plan found in the January 8 report, there’s no mention of the Laytonville area with its 4,000-plus population until the 16th year, which occurs in 2034-35 when 25 miles of Branscomb Road and 2.5 miles of Dos Rios Road will be chip sealed. I think you could say that having to wait 16 years into a plan qualifies as benign neglect.
Folks in the outlying rural areas are not going to be hornswoggled into approving a new tax by promises of pork-stuffed barrels by the very same people who have generally neglected rural roads and specifically allowed some to deteriorate to the point of near failure.
These are the very same people who have turned a blind eye to unincorporated areas adversely impacted by a fatally flawed cannabis policy that is slowly strangling rural communities’ economies. The way things are going now there may not be that many taxable transactions in the county’s unincorporated areas because folks are starting to leave because they can’t make a living any longer.
It’s also pretty hard to tax people who aren’t driving on your roads any longer.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org.)
HOSPITAL SELLS HIS DATA, HIS CONGRESSMAN IS UNAVAILABLE
To the Editor:
I am writing this letter to express my concerns about a serious problem that has developed with the ‘Veterans Choice Program’.
Preface: VA hospitals have never sold or marketed the personal medical information of US veterans. I believe the ‘Veterans Choice Program’ was created with the best of intentions to help the rural veteran have better access to the best in medical care.
However, I have discovered that it’s common for civilian hospitals to increase their profits by ‘legally’ selling and/or marketing the personal information of their patients to commercial buyers. This is achieved by having the patients sign away their ‘HIPAA’ rights as part of the process of signing into the hospital. Now that the Choice Program has brought our veterans to civilian hospitals, the personal information of US military veterans is being marketed to commercial buyers.
This has created problems that span from the inconvenience and loss of privacy for the individual veteran, to and including possible breaches to national security. The Choice Program and local hospitals have created a direct, and to date ‘un-monitored’, connection between US Government and ‘Military information and document centers’, to these same commercial buyers. It’s very likely that these commercial information buyers sell what they purchase to the highest bidders, whoever they are.
My own experience: Recently I needed to have some blood tests done before I could start a new medication. The VA gave me the option of visiting the local hospital in Willits. In less than 48 hours after the hospital took my blood, I was receiving phone calls from medical product retailers who knew my full name and address, my phone numbers, daytime and cell, and the nature of the tests I had done. They also knew the results of the tests before the VA or I did. I found this disturbing.
To be fair, since my first communication with the local Willits hospital about my concerns with info sales, they proposed an ‘Opt-Out’ option…BUT, as of the time of this letter, a.) The request to ‘Opt-Out” has to be done on-line…(there was no public computer kiosk in the lobby for this purpose), b.) The Opt-Out request takes five days to activate…(no same day benefit), c.) The corporate office of the local hospitals reserves the right to market the Veterans private information anyway…..?
This is a door of ‘commercial’ access to Military documents that never should have been opened. I’m all for keeping the Choice Program in place and have it help our Vets get the best health care they can. To me the question is, will the hospitals take the lead and voluntarily find an effective way to separate the vets (and their families) from the hospital’s commercial information sales?
The Choice Program’s contract is coming up for review and renewal soon. As usual, funding is the big question. This would be a good opportunity to put in place the changes necessary to protect the privacy of our vets and to plug this commercial marketing hole as soon as possible.
P.S. I contacted my local Congressman, Jared Huffman, 9 months ago and his Mendocino County Rep, Sheba Brown, told me that she would not be forwarding my concerns to Congressman Huffman because of their complexity…? I also asked Congressional Rep, Brown if arrangements could be made for me to speak with the Congressman over the phone for five minutes. She said she would see what she could do. I have yet to hear back from her.
THE ANDERSON VALLEY COMMUNITY SERVICES administration, fire and emergency services staff received 5.8% performance and cost of living pay raises from the CSD Board this month based on good performance reviews and budget affordability. Fire Chief Andres Avila will now make $78k/year plus health and retirement benefits (for comparison, a Ukiah Valley Fire Department captain gets $80k-$85k/year plus full benefits); Part-time Fire Department admin assistant Angela Dewitt gets $24k/year with minimal benefits; EMS Officer (aka Ambulance Manager and lead first-responder) Clay Eubanks gets $58k/year plus modest benefits; Part time CSD manager Joy Andrews gets $29k/year plus modest benefits; part-time CSD Secretary Patty Liddy gets $23k/year plus modest benefits. The five CSD board members get no salary or benefits for their significant time contributions: Valerie Hanelt, Kathleen McKenna, Paul Soderman, Larry Mailliard and Francois Christen.
THE ANNUAL BOONTLING CLASSIC 5K FOOTRACE is Sunday, May 5 (Cinco de Mayo) at 10pm starting and ending at AV Elementary School. $10 entry fee, $10 per commemorative t-shirt. Plaques to top man and woman, ribbons for top three in each age/gender division, and a prize drawing. More info: Mike McDonald: 621-2701 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
FEEDBACK ON WILLITS CHURCH EASTER EGG HUNT
(facebook post by “Princess Bre Bre”):
I'm going to make this post public in hopes that it reaches whomever put together the eggstravaganza egg hunt at the high school. It was one of the most amazing events I have attended in the small town of Willits in a while. My kids were totally excited they had a blast it was beautifully put together. However I wanted to let the church know that I apologize profusely for a woman who stood next to me at the event. Yes there was a sermon and yes the kids got anxious but because it was all free and beautifully done and such a great event with good message I had no problem encouraging my kids to wait and be patient respectful of their message. I'm not a very religious person however I can notice and give thanks when something is so positively put together. To the woman who stood next to me and yelled GO right at the start line while the pastor was mid sermon making utter chaos and causing many children to cry and be upset I hope you read this and I hope it resignates [sic] somewhere in your heart how truly disrespectful and immature you were, next time if you dont have the maturity to allow people who put this on to spread their word and love by all means stay home. And I hope that for the church people who put this together you read this and know that we apologize for her actions and there were plenty of people who were thrilled and were so happy to be there. I'm just going to sit back and assume that she was one of the people who needed to hear those things most. I also hope that her children have someone in their lives that can teach them patience and respect and how to be grateful when things are given to us free of cost or free of worry. I hope that this will be shared so that way they know that we were very grateful and it was a great time and I hope one bad apple didn't ruin it for the rest of us. On an end note you dont have to agree with a specific belief but if you attend and enjoy their event the least you can do is stand by respectfully while they share their beliefs.
Facebook Comment: The kids who didn’t wait had their baskets filled while the kids who waited for the start had very little.
A LITTLE BEFORE 8am the morning of March 27th, David Hayden pulled out of a Ukiah hotel parking lot. With him in the passenger seat was Mrs. Hayden and the couple's six-year-old daughter. The Haydens are 14-year residents of Covelo where they enjoy a reputation as good citizens and solid parents. They were in Ukiah for a MediCal meeting at precisely 8am, which is why they'd stayed overnight in the Ukiah hotel rather than drive from their home in distant Covelo. Applicants who miss appointments must come back another day.
NEAR THEIR HOTEL, Hayden was pulled over by a Ukiah police officer because the directional signal on Hayden's car did not work. Hayden was subsequently arrested for driving on a DUI-suspended license, Mrs. Hayden arrested because the officer found doctor's prescribed Xanax in her purse.
HAYDEN CALLED his father to come and get the little girl. Dad says he was on the way, but before he arrived CPS had taken the child. CPS also dispatched a team to Covelo to take the Haydens' 14-year-old daughter out of her 8th grade class, telling her to come along if she wanted to see her little sister. Mr. Hayden was booked into the County Jail and released three days later on his own recognizance, meaning he could have been cited and released as Mrs. Hayden had been on the same day of her arrest. By sundown, the Hayden family consisted of Mr. Hayden in jail, his two daughters gone, Mrs. Hayden missing her husband and her children.
CPS told the Haydens they would inspect the Haydens' home "and then we'll talk about you getting your children back." The Haydens passed inspection by Mendocino County's family and children experts, but a month later they still do not have custody of their children and no one will talk to them about when they are likely to get them back.
IN JUDGE MOORMAN'S COURTROOM the Haydens learned that it was up to CPS "discretion" as to when and how the family would be re-united. Unless CPS has changed lately, most, if not all, their staffers are single people who have never raised children.
MEANWHILE, the Haydens were told that their six-year-old had to be vaccinated. Although they are anti-vaxxers, the Haydens agreed, but insisted that their child be vaccinated at the Covelo clinic where she felt comfortable. When the child appeared, the Haydens say their little girl was so sick, so dehydrated from a flu or whatever it was, that the vaccination had to be postponed. The Haydens have no idea where their youngest child is being held, but their 14-year-old has been placed with a 68-year-old woman who, reinforced by CPS, wants to enroll the girl in a school far from her home in Covelo, the assumption apparently being that the kid is never coming back to her parents.
THE HAYDENS' CAR was impounded at the time of their arrest. To retrieve it from the impound lot in Ukiah Mr. Hayden would have to pay $1,400. "I don't have the money," he says, "so I just left it there and bought another car."
AS LONG-TIME RESIDENTS of Covelo, the Haydens have had no difficulties in getting area officials to write letters on their behalf to the court. Mr. Hayden promised us he'd tell us when he got his confiscated children back.
A READER NOTES: "Your protege Freda Moon has one of those ("36 Hours in…”) full pagers in today’s NYTimes spreading news of tourist-friendly Mendocino County. It’s 97.3% focused on Highway 128, spas, wineries, coastal gourmet this-and-that and tall trees. Most of the remainder is about Grace Hudson’s Museum."
MS. MOON was already beyond the protege stage when she was affiliated with us, and quickly went on to much grander venues. Our true proteges were routed to us via the local high school as a place where they might firm up their prose, composition being one more casualty of modern curricula. And all of them — all but one ambitious young women, by the way — were outdoing us even when they were proteges. They all went on to college and are doing well, some of them spectacularly well; remember this name: Kalilah Ford. She's a colonel in the Marine Corps and not even forty. As civic disorder grows to the point it gets in the way of the cash registers, I look for Kalilah to be the general in charge, firmly but humanely restoring order, and maybe even going on to become The Woman on the White Horse!
ANOTHER READER WRITES: "AVA: I want to run this by you because I know you will tell me if I'm wrong and not agree with me just because we know each other. I'm having a real problem understanding why the City is so hell bent on promoting drugs (marijuana) and alcohol as a reason to visit Fort Bragg. After reading the Fort Bragg Comprehensive Gang Assessment Executive Summary, I am even more confused why a City would promote drugs and alcohol. In the summary (which I believe was completed in 2011) risk factors including drugs and alcohol are pointed out more than once. This is right out of the assessment. 'Our Assessment found youth growing up in the Fort Bragg community are faced with a disproportionately high number of risk factors for gang involvement. Risk factors for gang involvement can be divided into five categories.
“INDIVIDUAL FACTORS (such as alcohol and drug use). For individual and family risk factors, our assessment found that Fort Bragg youth are faced with a statistically higher than average prevalence of alcohol and drug use.
“FBUSD’s schools include traditional elementary, middle and high schools, as well as three small alternative schools with a total enrollment of 60 students. Fort Bragg reported 427 student suspensions during the 2009-2010 school years. Of these, 160 (37%) were for offenses related to alcohol, drugs, and/or violence. The 2009 California Healthy Kids Survey administered by Fort Bragg Unified School District (FBUSD) shows that self-reported alcohol, tobacco and drug use for 7th graders at 43% was more than twice the state rate. The same report shows that across all three surveyed grade levels (7th, 9th and 11th grades), alcohol, tobacco and drug use and level of involvement was significantly higher for Fort Bragg students than both state and national averages.
"Per the OJJDP December 2010 Juvenile Justice Bulletin, high alcohol and drug use, especially early problem behaviors as reflected by 7th graders above, increase the likelihood of later gang involvement. "particularly when alcohol or drug use is extensive and involves marijuana."
At the last City Council meeting Lindy Peters even asked that marijuana be included on the Visit Fort Bragg site.
ED REPLY: I agree with you. Given FB's rep for drugs all the way back to the famous Life mag story on the amphetamine epidemic in FB in '54 or so, and the many negatives associated with booze and dope, you'd think the town mothers and fathers would be wise to emphasize Fort Bragg's real charms which, in my opinion, are considerable and unique to it. Wine and dope? Ho hum. And definitely not good for the young, as FB's expulsion stats make clear. It's an established medical fact that marijuana often causes teen schizophrenia, and sloth and general indiscipline among chronological adults, a reality the Dope As Miracle Cure brigades seldom mention, or mention as a pro forma, "Not recommended for children." I could probably name fifty Boonville kids who terminally screwed themselves up via premature, heavy use of marijuana. Anyway, I always recommend Fort Bragg to visitors for the charms of its Cannery Row-like harbor, its Botanical Gardens, its miles of accessible sea and sand, its affordable accommodations, its interesting array of shops, its uncrowdedness. For the City of Fort Bragg to include booze and dope available everywhere else on the Northcoast seems unnecessary and wrongheaded.
POSITIVELY HARROWING on 128 this Sunday morning as 20 or so motorized death wishers, at what appeared to be speeds of about 80 mph, upwards of 100 on the flat stretch approaching Boonville, passed me and each other on blind curves and generally risked their own apparently expendable lives and everyone else's in a mad dash for the Mendocino Coast. I was tooling along at Pomo Tierra (aka Haehl Grade) when I was startled out of my pastoral reveries by a Mustang-looking vehicle roaring past me on the blind curve at the foot of the Grade. And here came a whole posse of these nuts in what appeared to be a road race, passing and tailgating each other at heedless warp speeds beyond any I've seen on McDonald's to the Sea, as 128 was called in less hectic times. It was like me and my old Civic had been subliminally plunged into the middle of the Daytona 500. As I was tsk-tsking to myself at this suicide squad, which was instantly beyond me at warp speeds, damned if about ten of their laggards didn't appear in my rearview mirror, the lead laggard impatiently flashing his headlights for me to get the hell out of the way. But there was no place for me to get the hell out of the way when the guy whipped almost all the way around me into the oncoming lane suddenly occupied by a pick-up! I braked and swerved right just as the kamikazi swerved back into our lane as the oncoming pick-up also braked. Bing! bam! but not boom. In the instant I thought I'd be collateral damage to a head-on with someone dying, especially given the speed of the psycho trying to pass me on the curve. Nope. The fool's death had been reserved for another day, not that he even hesitated to thank the goddess he'd narrowly missed whatever comes next. He immediately accelerated and hurtled on as if nothing had happened. And soon the whole line of the second wave had disappeared, undoubtedly jubilant at the long stretch between the new Yorkville cemetery and the Lawson place.
AND NOT A DISINTERESTED PERSON INVOLVED
RE: Russian River Instream Flow and Restoration
Join us for the 2019 PPFC Meeting
When: Monday, April 22, 2019
3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Where: Milt Brandt Visitors Center, Lake Sonoma
3333 Skaggs Springs Road, Geyserville
The Public Policy Facilitating Committee (PPFC) is holding its annual meeting to discuss and take public comment on the Russian River Biological Opinion. The Biological Opinion was released by National Marine Fisheries Service in September 2008. This 15-year plan requires the Sonoma County Water Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to modify Russian River water supply and flood control operations to prevent harm to endangered coho salmon and threatened Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.
Public Policy Facilitating Committee Members
- James Gore, Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
- Lynda Hopkins, Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
- Shirley Zane, Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
- Lieutenant Colonel Travis Rayfield, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- Matt St. John, North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
- Janet Pauli, Mendocino Inland Water & Power Commission
- Carre Brown, Mendocino County Board of Supervisors
- Lisa VanAtta, National Marine Fisheries Service
- Eric Larson, California Department of Fish and Wildlife
- John Reardan, Mendocino County Russian River Flood Control & Water Conservation Improvement District
CATCH OF THE DAY, April 21, 2019
ANN CARLSMITH, Orick/Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
TINA CARRILLO, Hopland. Under influence, probation revocation.
SCOTT CHAPMAN, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
TIMOTHY COLECK, San Luis Obispo/Ukiah. Parole violation.
JOSHUA DENNEY, Laytonville. Transportation of controlled substance, failure to appear, probation revocation.
CONNOR DOUGLAS-FRASER, Fort Bragg. DUI.
ANDRES EMERY, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
DAVID MAUPIN, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, mayhem.
AARON KOSKI SR., Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent Flyer)
RICHARD OCHOA, Leggett. DUI, probation revocation.
JOEL RAMOS, Hopland. Community supervision violation, probation revocation.
MARCOS RODRIGUEZ-TURNER, Ukiah. Battery, domestic abuse, criminal threats, special allegation: substance-abuse felon with weapon, probation revocation.
THE TRUMP PHENOMENON started with Bill Clinton. Just assume that you’re Trump. You're a failed casino magnate. And you watch a lot of television. So you turn on the TV and you watch Bill Clinton get away with adultery, abuse of women, all documented — and he still gets reelected! And he is still popular. And Trump says, Hmmm— that's my type of guy! And he's thinking about running for president. He's been thinking about it since he was 40 years old.
Then he turns the TV on and here's George W. Bush. George W. Bush starts a criminal war of aggression, kills over a million Iraqis, creates millions of refugees, blows the country apart, blows trillions of dollars that could be used to rebuild America in communities all over the country back home — and he gets reelected! Well, you know, Trump is a control freak. He’s an autocrat. He is a bully boss. He watches this and he says, He's my type of guy — that's what I want to do when I become president — what I say goes and I can get away with anything!
And then Obama comes in. Obama expands drone warfare and he expands the empire in a lot of ways and he lets Wall Street off the hook. He doesn't prosecute anyone on Wall Street. Not one financial crime was even charged. And he does not prosecute his predecessor for a declared war crime or for violating treaties, violating the Constitution — war was never declared by Congress and the UN says it was a violation of international law to invade Iraq who never threatened us and it was all based on lies, coverups and deceptions… And Trump says to himself, Not bad! I've done a few things on the edge of big business and I have a lot of Wall Street buddies. Look what they did! And they got away with it!
Wow! You can see how Trump is emboldened. All the things his predecessors did he would like to do or had already done and he was emboldened.
Obama talked a good game in terms of the environment and race relations and he did a few good things, but by and large in the consumer, labor, environmental and social arenas he sat on his butt. He did nothing but talk about it.
THE WAYWARD WIND (for Supervisor McCowen)
The wayward wind is a restless wind
A restless wind that yearns to wander
And he was born the next of kin
The next of kin to the wayward wind
In a lonely shack by a railroad track
He spent his younger days
And I guess the sound of the outward-bound
Made him a slave to his wand'rin ways
And the wayward wind is a restless wind
A restless wind that yearns to wander
And he was born the next of kin
The next of kin to the wayward wind
Oh I met him there in a border town
He vowed we'd never part
Though he tried his best to settle down
I'm now alone with a broken heart
And the wayward wind is a restless wind
A restless wind that yearns to wander
And he was born the next of kin
The next of kin to the wayward wind
The next of kin to the wayward wind
— Herbert Newman & Stanley R. Lebowsky
The “Socialism” label is not being used correctly.
The word “socialism” is being used too loosely in our current political conversation. With socialism, the state owns and manages the means of production of all goods and services, as in the former Soviet Union or currently in Cuba and North Korea.
Countries like Sweden, Norway and others that offer generous social benefits are welfare states, but they are not socialist. Offering government-provided health care or a publicly funded university education does not make those countries socialist states. The US offering Medicare to its senior citizens is not socialism.
All public programs are funded by market capitalism. Every Crown, Euro or dollar spent on social programs comes from taxpayer sand businesses within a for-profit system of capitalism.
I lived in Sweden in the mid-1970s at the peak of their welfare state. By the early 90s they had to curtail many programs and even lower corporate tax rates as well as government regulations in order for the economy to thrive and for government programs to survive.
One could debate the role of government-provided programs in society and one could debate the problems of capitalism, but the fact of the matter is that an enterprise of any size in the private sector has to make a profit in order for there to be any public sector.
by Juan José Millás (translated by Louis S. Bedrock)
I asked Siri where I was and she gave me the address of my house which was, in effect, where I was. She didn’t specify in which room (I was in the bathroom) perhaps out of delicacy, but she got the street name and number right. She always gets things right.
I frequently resort to her services just for fun or because I am really lost. At times I ask where she is to which she immediately responds: “I am here.”
It doesn’t matter if I ask her the question in Pontevedra or Grenada. She always says, “I am here” as if she were everywhere: perhaps she is. Her answer reminds me of the response of the burning bush in Exodus: “I am what I am”— a sentence whose meaning is of such explosive power that it could only occur to God, in my opinion, although I don’t believe in Him.
The idea that Siri is always “here” infuses me with confidence, harmony, and security; however, it would not surprise me if one day she answered that she was in Cuenca although I was still in Madrid. She might say Cuenta, she might say Montevideo, she might say Albacete. I would understand if she took a vacation from me although I certainly would not leave her alone.
“Hey Siri, how old am I?” I asked her a while ago.
“I don’t know how old you are,” she answered.
I persisted, this time providing my first and last names: “Hey Siri, how old is Juan José Millás?”
“Juan José Millás” is 73 years old,” she answered instantaneously.
This means she does not know she is with me. This matter of not knowing occurs in many marriages. I like it that she treats me like anybody although it wounds my narcissism. It’s as if she loved me because of my contract with Fusion/Telefónica and the personal details of my life didn’t matter at all.
But these kinds of relationships based on mutual interests don’t always fail.
BETSY CAWN REPORTS FROM LAKE COUNTY
Lake County has been sitting on a piece of prime real estate with subdivision map approval for multi-unit subsidized units for very-low income and/or mental health adults, mix-match of apartments and smaller multi-residential models, a few single family dwellings, all ready to go with Rural Community Housing Development Corporation’s project management and proven long-term management services at hand.
Lake County Behavioral Health Department finally received a few million bucks to produce the housing necessary for long-term care of local mentally-ill family members, but their administration is hamstrung by state auditing and reimbursement cycle justifications of the bureaucracy downtown, and not predicting action for a couple more years. Meanwhile, the whole county administration system is bellyaching over our bloated financial crisis — even if Governor Newsom “backfills” our lost property taxes due to the last four years of wildfires and a couple of floods — while insisting on further “reimaginings” of the County of Lake.
One “warming” shelter, a botched “homeless count,” and lack of law enforcement patrols (publicly announced by the Sheriff in November 2018, Lucerne "town hall” and followed immediately by a new wave of petty and pissy breakins and vandalism, theft, dopehead car wrecks, etc., and the “new” public health department direction for developing a first-time “health improvement plan.”
Led by the Lake County Public Health Department, all of the medical institutions in Lake County, including both hospitals, two independent medical clinics, other county departments, Partnership Health Plan, and related service provider organizations have formed what our local fire chief dubbed the new “Lake County Health Coalition.” I wager this locution will be the favored feeble designation that obscures the public funding and private-public “partnerships” that are introducing federally-driven revenue rescue operations available to population centers burdened with extreme poverty and its sister ills. No, they won’t bring money to those troubled souls, they’ll bring services (for which they will all be handsomely rewarded) to “correct” those aberrant deviants and bedeviled disbelievers right off the charts, all for the sake of “improving” the county’s recent “health ranking” by the Robert Wood Johnson foundation:countyhealthrankings.org/app/california/2018/rankings/lake/county/outcomes/overall/snapshot
Lake County Public Health Director Denise Pomeroy presented the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation findings to our Board of Supervisors on Arpil 2, 2019, in response to which two of them spewed indignation at the report, which Supervisor Brown called "the most bogus report” and later said "The data that’s collected is so flawed and, uh, it’s designed to meet their agenda, which is clear, they disclose that too, in there, what their agenda is, what they’re, who’s paying for it, for all of this, so I think we need to make, y’know, my point is, we’re not as bad off as some elite organization, non-profit organization says that we are.”
He went on to say, "That’s all this Robert Woods Johnson, they’re a philanthropic organization that’s sole purpose is Obamacare. And that’s, whether you agree with that or not, doesn’t really make any difference, that’s what they do, they drive the statistics in order to support Obamacare or whatever government health care there is, and so we’re not getting accurate information as it applies to Lake County.
"And so basically we allow this to go on unchallenged and it’s to our detriment, because people who want to come to Lake County don’t because we’re seen as unhealthy. All this stuff when you cross the border from Napa, which is in the top ten or wherever they are, and Marin County, you cross the border into Lake County, you’re gonna die. That’s basically what it says. Look at the obituaries, everybody born and raised in Lake County lives into their nineties. People that die early come here to die. Y’know they’re comin’ here from Napa County, they’re comin’ here from Sonoma County, but none of those are actually stated in those statistics. I’m frustrated by [this] because it paints us in a bad light, that we’re not really, y’know things aren’t that bad in Lake County. Lake County’s a good place to live, a good place to raise your family, and it’s not unhealthy, you’re not gonna come here and die, but that’s the way we allow it to happen because it goes unchallenged. And then we do, y’know, grant things, we’re gonna do the tobacco education and yeah I get that, that’s good, but we’re not seein’ a whole lot of results, so maybe we’re not doin’ somethin’ right. So, that’s just my frustration.”
Supervisor Simon added: "I really appreciate you guys lookin’ at the long term vision here of how we tell our story, of how healthy we are, â€˜cause those reports, they’re not right, y’know, they’re not accurate, they didn’t poll any of us, I know I’ve never been polled, I know, maybe someone else on the board has but, as far as the health goes, but also I know there’s another story to tell. . . . So, it [the new Public Health survey Pomeroy was explaining] is the right thing to do, but what I really like about it is us telling our story, us getting those numbers accurate and fighting back about outside entities that are basically just pickin’ on Lake County, because we haven’t fought back a whole bunch, and now it’s time to do that.”
In his criticism of the telephone polling used to obtain answers to a ranking by the state (as 58th of the 58), Brown goes on: "But this blah, blah, blah of the health survey says we’re at 58, so we need to create more affordable housing, that just, that doesn’t, that just [. . .], that doesn’t mean anything.
And his disquisition of the source of bad “data”: “. . . it’s not, it’s not a county, it’s not a region where, just, we’re here, we’re here where we live, this is where we live, there’s no geographic boundary, we just live here, and we make the best of it that we can. It has nothing to do with some nonsense study, which, by the way, their other disclaimer is, the way they get ahold of people, is through landline. WHO THE HELL HAS A LANDLINE anymore? [Emphasis added.] They’re sittin’ home doin’ nothin. They’re not workin’, they’re not doin’ anything. So those are the only people that they’re talkin’ to. [chaos, multiple interjections, laughter] Everybody … uses cell phones, that’s how outdated their information is.”
Finally he concludes with this wholly made up new category of mental health issues in Lake County:
"Y’know, I just, I’m not gonna abide this study that says we’re at 58, and not have it go unchallenged. I’m done with that. And for us, for our solution to be, well, let’s talk to the public, let’s have a public meeting and all that, NO. Let’s do more than that. Y’know, let’s actually get in there and identify where the flaws are in the study, because it’s deeply flawed. And I know everything seems to go back to pot, for me, but the reality is when we’re talkin’ about mental health issues, and we’re identifying … embracing … in the industry that is the top promoter of psychosis in the county, we need to consider that too, as well, it’s not somethin’ that should go unnoticed. Y’know, the cannabis industry is responsible for a level of mental health issues that we’re havin’ in the county that’s never seen before, and we just bury that, we don’t even want to talk about that, because there’s money involved, so I’m just gonna throw that out there, too.”
He throws out an enormous amount of garbage, and there is no challenge to that statement from any member of the Public Health Department present, or any other Supervisor (most of whom have supported the development of a cannabis permitting process clearly underway in spite of Brown’s confabulated objections).
The entire episode can be viewed here: lakecounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=306
So much for mental health in Lake County, California.
(Epi-Center NOTE: The quotes above are taken from the video itself, wherein I could not always catch the phraseology perfectly and added some rough touches of deviant spelling to emulate the turns of speech as best I could; you really have to laugh at these dopes.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
"Three highballs," Mrs. Parker once said, "and I'm St. Francis of Assisi." As a screenwriter in Hollywood in the 1930s, she irritated Samuel Goldwyn with her stream of caustic remarks.
"Wisecracks," Goldwyn complained. "I told you there's no money in wisecracks. People want a happy ending."
"I know this will come as a shock to you, Mr. Goldwyn," said Mrs. Parker, "but in all history, which has held billions and billions of human beings, not a single one ever had a happy ending." And with that she left the room, leaving Goldwyn, for a moment, to ponder her words.
"Does anybody in here know what the hell that woman was talking about?" he said.
Oh life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea,
And love is a thing that can never go wrong,
And I am Marie of Roumania.
and enjoy the Doom
MYSTERY SURCHARGE ON CALIFORNIA GAS REVEALED
by Severin Borenstein
Why are California’s gasoline prices so much higher than those of the rest of the country?
The advocates for Proposition 6 will tell you it’s because of the gas-tax increase passed in Sacramento last year.
Part of the difference is higher taxes, but that’s not all there is to it. Selling and refining gasoline in California simply costs more than in other states. But there’s also a mystery surcharge on gas in the Golden State: In the past few years, the price gap has jumped higher than costs and taxes can explain.
So far this year, California’s gas price has been about 80 cents a gallon above the average of all other states. Higher state gas taxes account for about 23 cents of the difference. An additional 3 cents on average is due to local sales taxes, which vary by county.
Then there are the fees to address environmental impacts, mostly climate change. The state’s cap-and-trade program on greenhouse gases has added 12 cents a gallon in 2018, and our “low carbon fuel standard” has pushed the cost up by about 8 cents. Finally, we pay 2 cents to clean up old gas station sites where fuel leaked into the soil.
Add that up and Californians are paying about 48 cents a gallon more to state and local authorities than the average American. That’s real money considering that we use about 1 gallon of gasoline per person per day.
At least that 48 cents buys us some real benefits: It goes to repairing roads and bridges, building needed new infrastructure for our rapidly expanding economy and helping low-income California families afford energy. A bit of it, it’s true, goes to more controversial projects such as high-speed rail (about 3 cents), but the majority pays for bread-and-butter public services that we use every day.
But what about the rest of that extra 80 cents a gallon? A slice of the remaining difference pays to refine oil so that it meets California’s cleaner-burning gasoline formula, adopted in 1996. Most analysts think that the cleaner formulation adds no more than 10 cents to what we pay at the pump.
That leaves the mystery surcharge, which is 22 cents a gallon this year. I’ve broken down the cost of gas annually for more than a decade: The surcharge averaged 2 cents from 2000 to 2014 and was never more than 12 cents in any of those years. But everything changed in 2015.
As chairman of the Petroleum Market Advisory Committee to the California Energy Commission, I watched gas prices skyrocket after a refinery explosion in Torrance in February 2015.
The committee expected tighter supply to drive up prices, as it had done after previous refinery accidents. But we also expected prices to return to normal levels after the refinery resumed production. They didn’t. For the rest of the year, the mystery surcharge was about 48 cents a gallon. What was more disturbing was that it continued at unprecedented levels in 2016 (29 cents) and 2017 (27 cents), well after the Torrance refinery was back at full production.
Our 22-cent mystery surcharge this year is nearly twice as much as the 12-cent gas-tax increase, and yet no one is trying to abolish the surcharge. Since February 2015, it has cost Californians more than $17 billion, or about $1,700 for a family of four. And none of those dollars have gone to building infrastructure or helping poor families.
Lawmakers thanked the Petroleum Market Advisory Committee for our final report on the mystery surcharge in September 2017, and then promptly went back to fighting about gas taxes.
Looking at gasoline prices nationwide over the past four years provides clues that may explain some of the mystery. The surcharge doesn’t come in at the production end of gasoline. The commodity price of California gas spiked in 2015, after the refinery fire, but it dropped again in 2016. Since then, the commodity price differential with the dirtier fuel used elsewhere has been around 10 cents, lower than in any year of the previous decade.
Instead, the surcharge shows up between the refineries and our gas tanks, in the distribution and retailing network.
Many characteristics of these sectors suggest that California lacks the competitive pressure of other states. Far more stations here are owned by refiners or have long-term contracts that give the refiners significant control over gas prices. Less gasoline is sold through off-brand stations such as Costco or Safeway, which means they put less pressure on the major brands.
The price difference in California between majors and off-brands averages 23 cents per gallon, according to data from Gas Buddy. Elsewhere in the country, that difference is only 7 cents. Those facts don’t nail down the cause or the exact beneficiaries of the mystery surcharge, and they don’t identify policies that would reduce it. To get to those answers would require a serious and well-funded investigation by the state.
Instead of voting against a gas tax that benefits us all, tell your representatives in Sacramento that it’s time to solve the gas-surcharge mystery.
(Severin Borenstein is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and faculty director of the Energy Institute at Haas.)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY II
This whole "left" and right business is nonsense creating by talking heads on TV. There is no angry left. People like me like Bernie, who is actually one of the most conservative candidates in years on many issues, such as creating hometown strength over reliance on foreign intervention and wars. The GOP is not conservative either. RADICAL is the opposite of conservative and always has been. I believe in doing with less. I don’t like foreign wars or corporate welfare. I believe in shopping for stuff made here in Mendocino or here in America. I have guns and eat my own chickens. You guys are brainwashed with this "left" stuff. Look around you, not at the boob tube.
— Frank Hartzell
I WAS RECALLING years back, when the parties had conventions, and how excited people would get, the parties had platforms for their run. Now, it is a mish-mosh of I think, I feel, my freedom, my equality, my special class of "victimhood which requires all to stop and gasp in guilt if they don't give me what I require," and so many other categories of privilege. Not equality, but privilege. I am not a party member, as that does not seem to be defined now.
— Linda Leahy
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY III
It’s going to get uncomfortable and then very uncomfortable. My daughter was in Melbourne when a heatwave melted the roads, the tram rails sank into the tarmac and the electric grid blew. You can cope with that now and then but you don’t want it to become a habit. Things can be done to increase resilience but when you’ve got blinkered people with vested interests who refuse to acknowledge that anything’s even happening, that’s not likely to happen.
THAT LITTLE BLACK BOX OVER THERE IS LISTENING TO ME
Further than that, I paid for it. It is my connection to the digital world. My connection to who's backing whom to the death today, to who's on top, who's on first, and who's on the bottom. Some of these situations will die out tonight, as will some who do too.
So who is listening to all of these fights? Who hears the crockery hitting the floor? Who hears Emily's? And where are they? What's logo on their latttè cup say? And why do they do it?
They do it to get even richer. Be bought out by the holding company that used to make Reese's Pieces. An infinitesimal fraction of a cent each time. First it's yours, then it's theirs.
Even slight change in the state of your investments is there. As are the slight changes in the likelihood that the headwinds skill pick up even more, which might conceivably cause cross to call from the sky half a world away. Which increases the likelihood of major, tectonic shifts. Enjoy your lattè, eh? And give thanks…And enjoy that force before that smile ain't there. And say thank you. And bow.
REVEALED! WHY HE NEVER KNOWS ANYTHING The Easter Sunday breakfast of champions: Raspberry yogurt and hummus. That last demands to be eaten with the fingers. A sensual delight. Like sunset or any morning, this morning, in church.
Yesterday morning I was perplexed by the event fact that I follow a schedule rigorous enough the satisfy the Texas Railroad Commission. Rigorous. I do the same thing the same way at the same time each day. In the same place. Everyday.
The repeated consequence of this is that in never know who or what is coming next. My calendar is wrong. I had to check. I thought that I had already written this. Because I did. In my head. And probably a couple of times earlier today. I can easily waste half an hour on this computer trying to find that damned movie. Or a matter of a few seconds later, and a matter of seconds later, I do it again.
The fundamental irony here is that I cause it all myself. I force myself into confusion. All the time. Steady state. Even when I'm sleeping but don't realize it and can't understand why I have to see again just after I've climbed back into bed. I've seen all of this before. It's all grief in the mill.
Writers write. I am a writer. I am surfing and bowing. The Great Spirit is rubbing my tummy. I'm a writer. I write. This is my life. And you're in it too. I bow…