MCT: Monday, May 13, 2019

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DRY CONDITIONS will continue today with increasing clouds and slightly cooler inland temperatures. A significant pattern change is expected for the remainder of the week with below normal temperatures and periods of rain. (National Weather Service)

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BOONVILLE’S AMERICAN LEGION POST #385 will observe Memorial Day with a service on Monday, May 27, 2019, 11am, at Evergreen Cemetery, just north of Boonville on Anderson Valley Way. Among the souvenirs to be displayed will be the three purple heart medals awarded to the late Boonville resident and Korean War vet Bob Nimmons.

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FLORICULTURE AT THE FAIR

The fair is only four months away, so it's not too early to be planning your Floriculture entries. The theme for the floriculture gardens and arrangements is Mendocino County Rocks. The guide should be out soon with the different arrangement categories and the entry forms are due some time in the second week in August. Don't forget you can submit entry forms online for free starting the first week in July at mendocountyfair.com/county-fair/

There is a poster contest for each of the remaining four months before the fair to promote some of the fair activities in which you can participate. If you are interested in submitting a poster and perhaps winning a 3 day pass to the 2019 Mendo County Fair and Apple Show, with the poster posted around the county, you can reply to this email (dpp1130@gmail.com) requesting the application.

THIS is Rebecca Goldie’s poster for Floriculture:

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COAST HOSPITAL LABOR RESOLUTION

by Malcolm Macdonald

At a May 7 finance committee meeting, Mendocino Coast District Hospital (MCDH) interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Wayne Allen announced a tentative agreement between MCDH management and the hospital union. The terms of the agreement provide for a two year contract, retroactive to July 1, 2018, and running through June 30, 2020. Under the tentative agreement, all MCDH employees would receive a 1% retro pay raise for the July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 fiscal year and a 2.5% wage increase effective July 1, 2019, and extending through the next fiscal year ending June 30, 2020. The increases apply to all employees, union and non-union, who were on the payroll at the ratification dates. Ballots were mailed to the union membership in the first week of May. Voting continues through May 17. The agreement will become official if ratified by a majority of the union votes and if approved by the MCDH Board of Directors. The contract makes no changes in employee benefit packages or pension funding.

When Wayne Allen arrived on the MCDH scene, again, one of the first things he promised was a quick end to the labor negotiations that had lingered since the last contract ran out at the end of June, 2018. If the agreement outlined above is ratified, Allen will have fulfilled that promise. How did this relatively simple solution arise from negotiations that had failed to go anywhere for so long that an arbitrator had been called in to file a fact finding report?

Looking at that fact finding report, filed at the end of February, might provide insight into what's going on at MCDH. The arbitrator was called in after the hospital declared negotiations were at an impasse. About six weeks later the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) appointed a “fact finder.”

The fact finder took note of MCDH's “precarious financial condition,” the times in the past when the union has made concessions based on those economic conditions, including the hospital's bankruptcy from 2012-2015, and the passage of the Measure C parcel tax. MCDH management wanted a three year agreement ending June 30, 2021. The fact finder recommended a two year agreement with a 1% retroactive wage hike for the 2018-2019 fiscal year and a 2% raise for the 2019-2020 year. Obviously, Mr. Allen agreed to an even better deal for the union with a 2.5 % raise in the second year.

The fact finder recommended that starting in July, 2019, full time employees would pay 7.5% toward the least expensive health care benefit plan available. Under the fact finders plan employees would pay a 20% premium contribution for dependent family member health care benefits, part time employees would pay a pro rata portion of their health care benefits, and the current $500 stipend for alternative coverage would be eliminated. The fact finder also proposed a reduction in holidays or paid time off for all employees starting in July, 2019 as well as lowering the amount the employer (MCDH) would contribute to employee pensions.

As evidenced by the short statement at the end of Mr. Allen's statement about the tentative agreement, none of those proposed changes were made to the benefits and pension plans. Why the switch from the fact finders recommendations to a more labor friendly agreement? Look no further than the Request For Proposal (RFP) Mr. Allen sent out ten days into his interim CEO job. Potential affiliating hospital groups like Adventist Health, Sutter Health, or any other don't want labor strife on the immediate horizon.

At that May 7 finance meeting, Allen also presented a projected budget for fiscal year 2019-2020. The bottom line: nearly two million dollars in net income losses as of July, 2020. Place that on top of about $800,000 in bottom line losses for this year, more than $1.2 million from last year, and the picture should be crystal clear for all but the most Pollyanna-ish of coastal folk.

If that wasn't enough economic gloom for you in regard to MCDH, the hospital will have to pay hundreds of thousands in interest on their Help II loan. That borrowing was done to assist in paying for mandatory repairs for multiple absolutely necessary ongoing maintenance projects that cost around $3.2 million dollars. Oh, yes, and there are $8.2 million worth of, as yet, unfunded maintenance projects looming in the near future.

Something else potential affiliating hospitals will want to see is a stable administration. On May 1, the MCDH Board held a special meeting to pick an interim Chief Financial Officer (CFO) from among four candidates. The choice was Steve Miller. He had served in the same post previously, for about nine months beginning in December, 2014. At the May 7 meeting, interim CEO Allen stated that Miller was asking for a contract that he (Allen) deemed too expensive. When asked if he wanted one of the three other May 1st candidates, Allen indicated that he didn't like any of them much either. Such a response makes one wonder why the other three candidates were involved in the May 1st proceedings at all. The whole situation would also make any reader question why Allen didn't get an estimate as to how much money any of those candidates, including Steve Miller, might ask if they were selected.

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POT PERMITS: ‘BLOCKED BY INACTION’

by Mark Scaramella

During last Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Ted Williams asked cannabis program manager Sean Connell if he could produce a monthly graph showing pot permit processing status by permit category. After a silent pause, Williams quickly gave up, probably realizing that county staff is incapable of producing monthly status reports on anything, without even the courtesy of, “No, we can’t.”

Williams then asked if Mendocino County was in the same situation as other counties with something like 75% of the pot permit applications being held up by state agencies.

Mr. Connell replied that "A lot of other counties are experiencing the same effects."

Williams quickly followed up: "A lot? Meaning some counties are not?"

Connell: “Probably there are some. I think Lake County has it pretty easy right now. They have use permits and a controlled water source over there. They have a little bit of a different process. It depends on how the ordinance for each county is set up."

Oops. Mr. Connell inadvertently undermined the party line that it’s the state’s, not the County’s fault. Mendo dismissed the use permit process out of hand years ago, not even considering it. Yet here’s Mendo’s broke stepcounty using it to good effect.

Connell then said he was working with other coastal counties on the pot permit processing problem, whatever that means.

Williams tried another tack. "Is there any possibility of having applicants take photos and send them in electronically rather than sending an inspector out? We know a state inspection will come. Then maybe trust them if they say it's 2500 square feet and it looks like it. Would that save us a whole lot of money? I recall hearing 17 hours to work through the process. I would think that would shave a whole lot of time if we just took their evidence as opposed to going on site.”

Planning & Building Director Brent Schultz didn’t want to address individual suggestions from Supervisors (i.e., Williams): “I would really appreciate it if the board members would—” [He probably felt like saying “shut up,” but thought better of it.] “I like these ideas. I would like to sit down with Sean [Connell]. We're setting up meetings now to walk through each process our applicants have to go through," and on and on jabbering away about trying to meet the county’s — NOT the state’s — ordinance requirements, "and shave off time." Shultz also said he was open to ideas and wants to hear from applicants, "but nobody's come in with precise things that we can do to shave off the process and still meet our ordinance, and still meet state law. I haven't heard any. I've asked a lot of people. And they have just not come in yet. A few, but not a lot."

Schultz had just heard one! And ignored it! Not a peep in response. Of course the wannabe-legal pot people have proposed very specific ideas for years. We have no idea what Schultz is talking about.

Supervisor John Haschack then bemoaned the slow pace of permit processing, again, concluding, "Why is that number [of approved permits] so low?"

Instead of blaming the state — what’s wrong with these staffers? Can’t they stay on script? The CEO is sitting right there. — Mr. Schultz blamed lack of staff. “Mr. Connell doesn't have a program administrator. He doesn't have administrative staff. And he lost three inspectors. We are down 70%. There is a turnover issue. Human Resources has stepped in and we are starting to fill those positions back up." Schultz also insisted that he was “trying [sic] to pare down the whole application process."

Williams: "I hear from a lot of people about cannabis. I see how hard staff is working. If anybody can pull it off it would be these two. But there is an inherent problem. It may be the state and I think we need to address that at some point. Maybe legal action to start a revolt. It's just meeting after meeting looking at the same numbers and people saying they need more time to investigate and find efficiencies. But this thing has just stalled. The public tells me that this program is a failure and I tend to agree. You have one out of five up here thinking this program just does not work. I want to find next steps. If it means going to the state and showing them it doesn't work and how hard staff is working around the clock to pull this off and applicants are doing everything they should be doing and you [state agencies] are putting us out of business. I think we need to do that. Otherwise we might as well say let's not hear the numbers until August. It has stalled. It's basically capitulation. Staff is working hard and they are busy. But it's painful for the small farmer who can't pay his bills, can't buy gas, can't buy food because the state has stalled. And maybe there are 25% that are stalled on us and we have to move on those. That hurts people and that's on us. But we have to have some next steps and it cannot be looking at staff and asking them to work harder and fix it faster. They are doing what they can. There has to be some action between us and the state."

Supervisor John McCowen returned to the script, noting that upwards of three quarters of the applications are at one state agency or another. "I've been asking for a quantification of that specific number for some time and that appears to be difficult to pull that up.”

If no one demands it, more whining is not likely to get it “pulled up.”

McCowen: “However 70-75%, 600 some applications, appear to be sitting somewhere at the state, so I certainly agree these numbers are not moving. The problem isn't getting resolved as it relates to the state. There's very limited value to having these regular updates.” McCowen then suggested the Board just "dispense with the updates," and let staff report when they feel like it.

The Board agreed to dispense with the updates -- obviously, everyone's embarrassed by the nearly invisible progress and nobody has the slightest idea what to do about it and they don’t like hearing about it month after month and listening to the pot people — and Supervisor Williams — complain. It looks bad. Better to simply not report on it or discuss much.

In spite of Supervisor McCowen's repeated attempts to place as much blame as possible on the state, it's clear, as Mr. Connell noted, that some counties have simpler processes. It's also clear that nobody in Mendo Officialdom is willing to pursue even the slightest specific process improvements such as using cameras as supervisor Williams suggested. They have been blathering about “trying” to improve the process for years without a single specific change other than aimlessly shifting the program from one department to another and shifting the person(s) in charge of it. And adding more requirements.

Supervisor Williams tried to pin down where at the state the applications are being held up.

Supervisor Carre Brown dismissed this question with her standard giggle, adding, "It's water, fish and game…” tee-hee — whatever, not us.

Mr. Shultz said it's mainly Fish and Wildlife.

Supervisor Williams then asked County Counsel, “Is there any way to bring Fish and Wildlife into court on this? It's ruining our economy. It's trickling down into all other businesses. Can we get their attention? This is unacceptable month after month to have applications essentially blocked by inaction.”

Carre Brown: "Actually, I think, maybe -- a letter to the Director, the California Director of Fish and Wildlife?”

Williams agreed with a letter but wanted to know if the County could get Fish and Wildlife into court “because they are putting our local economy under.”

Of course, Supervisor McCowen immediately quashed that idea: "It's very difficult to sue government for what they don't do. I don't think that's a viable avenue."

Actually, it is an option. It’s called a Writ of Mandamus. (“…a traditional remedy by which a court compels an inferior tribunal to perform a legally required duty. The authorizing statute is CCP §1085.”) It might not work in the end, but it would sure get the state’s and the public’s attention. The problem would be proving that the State is the problem, not the County. (See Jim Shields below…)

McCowen continued, "I would leave it to staff, working with County Counsel, to come back to the board at the point where they think a letter or other approach to state officials is appropriate. I would trust their judgment to work through these issues and reach out to us if there is a role for us to play."

Williams was adamant: “We are beyond that point. This has gone on too long. The public has no confidence at this point in our cannabis program. People look at it and think, It's not going anywhere. I don't think we can plead for anything anymore. I think we need to take action. We just need to decide what that action is. To expect that we will push this back until August or later — I think we are going to see these 1339 applications not processed in any meaningful way. We will come back in three months and hear that nine more have made it through the process and the rest are blocked somewhere at the state and we are not sure, maybe Fish and Wildlife… I can't support that. I think we have to take some action. Maybe the five of us have to get in a car and go to the Capitol and protest.”

Everybody in the room laughed at Williams who was not joking at all.

“I'm serious!” replied Williams. “It's not just about cannabis. Dollars are leaving the county. Talk to the local bars. They are saying that people aren’t coming in anymore. Talk to car repair shops. People are not showing up to fix their cars. It's trickling down everywhere. It seems that cannabis people are the only ones who can come to our meetings, but they’re not the only ones affected. I would like other supervisors to propose next steps. I do not think the next step is waiting.”

County Counsel Kit Elliott’s contribution to the discussion was a stream of meaningless acronyms and excuses: "The problem is that all throughout this we have been working with CDFA, CDFW, the state. It's a frustration being addressed through RCRC. I think CSAC's been involved. A lot of different agencies."

There was a long series of very focused complaints, suggestions and questions from the regular cannabis community speakers, after which Supervisor Williams perked up again: "I heard one of the commenters describe an ability of the County to issue permits while applicants are waiting for the state."

Local cannabis attorney Hannah Nelson suggested giving provisional permits.

Williams then asked staff if that was possible.

Guess what they replied.

Program Manager Sean Connell: "Unfortunately, County Code Section 10.8.17 requires the final document from Fish and Wildlife be in receipt from their department and be checked and verified for validity before we can issue a permit. So we don't have that ability to take their receipt of application at Fish and Wildlife and issue a permit based on that. But when an application is filed, we issue an embossed receipt which is a provisional license which allows that cultivator to begin cultivation."

“Begin cultivation”? What then? In other words, Pay the fees, pay the consultants, set up the grow, get started and then wait forever before you can sell anything.

After several more local growers rattled off their plaintive complaints about processing, demands from state agencies, taxes and fees, being out of money, lack of transferability of permits, and so on, Board Chair Carre Brown dismissively thanked everyone and said the board would be moving on to the CEO’s report.

On Tuesday, the cannabis "ad hoc committee" is expected to make a report with suggested improvements to the process. But based on Tuesday's discussion, the improvements will take a lot longer than the permits.

After the meeting Pot Permit Program Manager Sean Connell looks like he’s telling his former assistant Chevon Holmes that he not only got through another meeting without having to answer any hard questions, but the Supes even told him he didn’t have to report the dismal stats anymore! Perhaps saying, “I don’t know why, and you won’t believe this, Chevon, but that’s what they did!”

SUPERVISOR TED WILLIAMS has placed the following interesting item on Tuesday’s Supes agenda. We’re not sure what the background of this item is, but as far as we know the Ag Department already collects pesticide application data, so Williams is suggesting that it also be published on line, which would be a useful improvement and a step toward timeliness and better transparency. And it would give neighbors notice of spraying and what’s being sprayed (and dates, since the application data already includes application date). It will be interesting to see how Williams’s Board colleagues react to this simple proposal.

ITEM 6a) — Discussion and Possible Action Including Direction to Agriculture Department to Collect and Publish Pesticide Application Details, Including Chemical Agent, Quantity, and Assessor’s Parcel Number (Sponsor: Supervisor Williams)

Recommended Action: Direct Agricultural Commissioner to collect pesticide application details, including chemical agent, quantity and accessor parcel number (APN); and publish via County website within fifteen days of receipt.


SUPERVISORS CARRE BROWN AND JOHN MCCOWEN have also placed an interesting item on Tuesday’s Board agenda:

6d) Discussion and Possible Action Regarding an Allocation in the Amount of $50,000 to the Inland Water and Power Commission (IWPC) to Undertake a Feasibility Study of a Potential Licensing Proposal for the Potter Valley Project and Other Related Costs; and Approval of Transfer of Funds from General Fund. Budget Unit 1100 750000 to Special Department Expense Budget Unit 1100 1940 in the Amount of $50,000.


ALSO ON TUESDAY Supervisors McCowen and John Haschak are scheduled to present their cannabis cultivation regulation recommendations to the rest of the Board and “provide direction to staff” which will be where the (pot)plot will thicken.


AND, AS IF THE BOARD doesn’t have enough meetings to attend, there’s this item on the consent calendar:

4d) Adoption of Resolution Approving Creation of an Emergency Medical Care Committee to Serve and Act in an Advisory Capacity to the Local Emergency Medical Services Agency and the Board of Supervisors; Approval of Proposed By-Laws, Including Membership Composition, for the Emergency Medical Care Committee; and Direction to Staff to Work with the Clerk of the Board to Establish Membership Application Processes and Other Procedures as Needed.”


THE BOARD is also expected to approve a supplemental agreement with San Francisco based forensic pathologist Dr. Greg Pizarro to increase his budget by $50k to $300k to cover him through the end of 2019.

Dr. Pizarro may have used up a lot of his initial $250k funding allocation in doing the autopsies and testifying for Sheriff Tom Allman’s special coroner’s inquest into the murder-suicide of the Hart family the matriarch of whom drove their vehicle full of adopted black kids off the North Coast cliffs to their deaths last year.


SUPERVISOR TED WILLIAMS posted the following update on the on-line permit process on Wednesday (the Day after the Tuesday board meeting where it was discussed): “Supervisor Dan Gjerde and I met with Information Services this morning to discuss the priority of an online permit process (for the most common permits). It's in the works. Rates are justified by full cost recovery. I'm hopeful that reduced data entry and staff time will translate into lower cost (besides the drive and wait times).”

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COMANCHE MOTHER AND CHILD. circa 1890. Happy Mother's Day!

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POT ORDINANCE EXIT STRATEGY

by Jim Shields

This past week I had the pleasure of working with a couple of professionals from the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), who are in the county collecting information, data, and records on water-related matters in our watersheds. The SWRCB is the “boss” of all water districts in California.

The two I met with are environmental scientists from SWRCB’s Division of Water Rights and they were meeting with me in my capacity as District Manager for the Laytonville County Water District. Specifically, they are part of a team that is working on the hydrology model that SWRCB is developing for the South Fork Eel River watershed, one of five watersheds that the state has identified as critical since they are also the five primary watersheds that account for producing the lion’s share of pot in our state.

They told me they are “beefing up the groundwater component of the model and need any groundwater elevation data I had, including long-term monitoring data, pump tests, etc. I had previously provided them similar types of records.

Following our meeting, my thoughts turned to Mendocino County, and its chaotic cannabis ordinance history, and its total lack of comprehending the critical role water plays in marijuana cultivation.

This past two weeks with the Board of Supervisors once again tinkering with the pot ordinance cemented firmly and finally, that it’s time for the county to gracefully exit the pot ordinance business and defer to the state’s regulatory framework that is administered by real, honest-to-goodness professionals.

Two weeks ago the BOS approved — without the requisite justification — increases to fees and charges related to the county’s regulatory process. I covered that subject last week, so I won’t re-plow that ground now. But it’s interesting to note that with approximately 90 percent of growers refusing to make application for pot permits, why would county officials think that it’s a good idea to gouge growers with some increases that amounted to 100 percent? That’s hardly an incentive to come off the sidelines and sign up for the cannabis program.

At this week’s meeting, Cannabis Program management complained that something like 75 percent of the few current applications on file, are held up at the state level primarily due to the actions of resource agencies such as SWRCB and the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

That complaint demonstrates an appalling ignorance of how the state regulatory process works. I’m assuming what the local bureaucrats are talking about are water and watershed-related rules and regulations that have been widely promulgated for the past two years.

Those water-related issues are well-known to county officials, and those issues have nothing to do with the failure of the county’s cannabis ordinance process. The blame lies solely with the bureaucrats and the Board of Supervisors.

So let’s take it from the top.

Legalization legislation in this state required that SWRCB establish strict environmental standards for cannabis cultivation in order to protect water flows and water quality in California’s rivers and streams.

In this space I have repeatedly pointed out that you “can’t grow weed without water,” and that the state’s two primary resource agencies in California’s cannabis regulatory framework — the State Water Board and Fish and Wildlife — have very tough, stringent regulations that needed to be complied with in order for local growers to become licensed.

When this issue was raised at a BOS meeting nearly two years ago, the Board’s response was, “There’s already checks and balances on water.” What exactly did that mean? And by the way, what are these checks and balances on water?

The State Water Board and Fish and Wildlife don’t operate in a “check and balance” water world. They have very specific rules and regulations regarding water rights, diversion, usage, storage, discharge, etc. Cannabis cultivators must comply with them to get licensed regardless of what the county is obligating or not obligating them to do.

About 18 months ago, former Mendocino County Agriculture Commissioner Diane Curry told the BOS, “The state agencies are looking at us. They want us to have a robust program, something with integrity. How do we not fulfill that by not fulfilling the ordinance? We prepared our ordinance based on state legislation. So what part of that can we just pick and choose to get these people permitted? I ask you?”

Curry was telling the Board there are substantive problems with their ordinance: The state wants a “robust program,” it must have “integrity,” and the county must be “fulfilling,” i.e., enforcing its ordinance. These are the basics of any regulatory scheme and framework.

Two years ago, Erin Ragazzi, an assistant deputy director for the State Water Board’s Division of Water Rights and Water Quality Certification, said, “Well, I think one of the things that’s important to point out is that the (state’s cannabis) policy creates a comprehensive mechanism to regulate cannabis cultivation, and it includes both those water supply, water rights side and water quality components. Specifically, I think it’s important to note we have a lot of important requirements to address individual and cumulative impacts that can occur in watersheds, and that’s been a big concern for a lot of folks, in terms of not just the site-specific impacts but the broader cumulative impacts in a watershed … (Our) policy includes requirements establishing maximum diversion rate, a forbearance period when no diversions can occur and instream flow requirements so that even when you’re in the season of diversion, you can always divert when flows are above that instream flow requirement. So there’s a pretty comprehensive look at ensuring that we’re not seeing the impacts associated with diversion and use of water, while at the same time allowing folks a pathway to get a storage water right, which often would take a very long period of time …”

Notwithstanding claims to the contrary, the Board of Supervisors and all the personnel associated with the county’s cannabis ordinance, have known for a long time that local applicants must be in compliance with state water regulations in order to receive final approval from the state. That was never some deep, dark secret.

This stalled, failing county cannabis permit process is not due to state actions, it’s due to the mismanagement and bungling of county officials who have never figured out how to properly, fairly, and professionally administer a cannabis ordinance.

(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)

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CAAC SHOULD GO ON A BACK BURNER

We agree with the many, many people out there in the community who are skeptical about the idea of a Mendocino County Climate Action Advisory Committee. We are astounded that the supervisors tried to sneak this through on the consent calendar last week and are glad that it got pulled and delayed.

Sure, we believe climate change is real. And yes, we believe it is largely a man-made phenomenon that needs to be addressed with new policies around energy and pollution. What we don’t believe is that this county needs to launch a brand new county entity, led by an additional highly paid employee, to come up with policies that will save the planet right here from our county.

Please.

Are there things this county can do in planning and building, in agriculture, in road building and resource conservation that would be more environmentally friendly? Of course. And we largely already know what they are. We could start using permeable pavement, we could switch away from traditional asphalt to light colored road surfaces, we could do more to encourage alternative home building, we could do more to encourage tree planting and shade building, we could do more to be fire safe and prevent the weeks of smoke pouring into the atmosphere. We see no reason why all our highly paid county department heads can’t come up with lists of things their departments can do to improve environmental outcomes among the activities of their departments. If they can’t, they should not be department heads. There’s plenty of information out there about things local governments can do to improve environmental outcomes. There are numerous state and national environmental organizations out there with an almost endless menu of options and suggestions for just that. Ask any one of them to come up with a summary of things this county can do and we’d bet they’d be on it immediately and come up with a county plan in a matter of weeks.

Instead, we are considering putting together a huge committee of people, all with their own agendas to begin yet another adventure in ‘consenus’ building over a difficult issue. Good luck. We envision a coming manifesto full of new policies dictating all kinds of activities without any input from the general public which supervisors will hold up as a wonderful forward thinking new vision and which will be ignored by county staff and reviled by the public.

And to hire someone at more than $100,000 in salary and benefits to herd those cats is nonsense. We see a major boondoggle coming and we urge the county supervisors to rethink this whole idea. Why not start with getting climate ideas from the people you are already paying to be leaders in your organization and see where the low hanging fruit already exists.

Building a whole new bureaucracy around an issue the county has limited, but relatively simple, control over makes no sense.

(K.C. Meadows, Editor, Ukiah Daily Journal. Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal.)

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"SECRET INGREDIENT" — oil on canvas, 30" x 40" on display at Live Worms Gallery through June 2

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ED NOTES

JOHN SAKOWICZ WRITES: "...Judi Bari and her protégé, Alicia Bales are interchangeable. Entitled. Bullies. Narcissists. Self-righteous. Bales’ Board of Directors drink the grape kool aid, or they are thrown off the Board. Mike Sweeney, Bari’s husband and co-conspirator — and self-proclaimed Maoist — was another very dangerous person. The car bomb that almost killed Bari was almost certainly planted by Sweeney. Thank God Sweeney moved far away. He now lives in New Zealand. Guess where the founders of the MEC, Judy Ball, and her late-husband, Gary Ball, moved when they left Ukiah. You guessed it — Colorado…"

I THINK it's fair to regard Judi Bari as a truly tragic figure. I believe she had to steer attention away from the truth of the terrible event that abbreviated her life out of devotion to her daughters, who were then small children. If she'd told the truth about the bombing she and Sweeney, by then her ex-husband, would have been packed off to the federal pen and, of course, have lost custody of their two daughters. Bari-Sweeney had felony info on each other, and I think it is clear they also both knew the true origins of the MEC, which I think were federal.

ALL ANYBODY really has to know about the "mystery" of the bombing is that no one from the Bari-Sweeney families has ever said a public word about the event, never once demanded to know the truth of it, and that family includes The New York Times star science writer and Judi Bari's sister, Gina Kolata. Second, the bombing was never seriously investigated by the feds, who claimed they had to declare it cold "because no one would talk to us."

THAT THE FEDS deliberately took a pass on solving the "mystery," in my opinion, is even more obvious because they subsequently teamed up with Bari's lawyers prior to the phony libel suit brought by Bari and Cherney to co-write the case to exclude any reference to Who Done It? The federal attorneys and the Bari-Cherney attorneys mutually agreed in a closed hearing not to call any person skeptical of the Bari-Cherney-FBI version of the event. (I was excluded by name.)

I ONLY KNOW Alicia Littletree from two occasions, one in Willits, the other in Arcata-Eureka, where she arrived in force with a gang of apparent street people to disrupt my presentations. Bari never needed back-up; she was very smart, a good writer, articulate and so on, a huge cut above the present MEC mob who, of course, she dominated out of her superior gifts. Bari and I were good friends until she denounced Steve Talbot for daring to name Sweeney as the primary suspect in his documentary on the bombing for KQED. Talbot's excellent film was falsely challenged by Bari as a "lie," but it was Bari who was revealed as the liar because she had steered Talbot to Sweeney as responsible for the attack on her, if that's what it was.

THIS FAR down the line from the 1990 car bomb we are unlikely to ever know the truth, but Talbot has come closest to revealing it. It was Talbot, thanks to Bari, who discovered that Sweeney had been involved in violent events all the way back to his days as a Stanford student in the late 1960s.

OF COURSE here in Amnesia County where history starts all over again every day and you are whatever you say are, Sweeney's past with a "Maoist" group that committed at least one murder didn't prevent him from parlaying a couple of lush recycling grants, steered to him via the Democratic Party (in the form of Wes Chebro), into an even lusher job he created for himself with the oblivious County of Mendo, as the County's trash czar.

THE GIRL he left behind. Leaving the country for New Zealand, Sweeney has abandoned his girlfriend, Glenda Anderson, formerly a reporter for the Ukiah Daily Journal and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. All the years Glenda dutifully functioned as Sweeney's media bodyguard, even getting his recycling press releases published as news stories, seems to have earned her desertion when she was no longer of any use to the devious little criminal.

GARY AND BETTY BALL fronted the MEC until Judi Bari's death in 1997 when they departed for their apparent original home in Colorado. I understand Betty Ball is still with us, her husband isn't.


FOURTH DISTRICT SUPERVISOR Dan Gjerde told us on Sunday that he saw the AVA’s complaint about him and the proposed Mendocino County Climate Action Advisory Committee (MCCAAC) on MendocinoSportsPlus (see below) — under MSP’S headline: “NEWSPAPER BLASTS 4TH DISTRICT SUPE GJERDE —'INCOHERENT, DISAPPOINTMENT, SAYS VIRTUALLY NOTHING'.” Gjerde said that the idea that the MCCAAC is wired for the MEC’s Alicia Littletree Bales is nothing but a “rumor” started by John Sakowicz. Gjerde noted that nothing about hiring Ms. Bales has been presented to the Board, so there’s no reason for him or anyone else to object to anything Supervisor McCowen has proposed. Gjerde added that the only thing on the Board’s agenda on last Tuesday was the formation and composition of the MCCAAC (in spite of the Board packet containing a reference to “BOS hires CAAC staff person”). Gjerde said that he supports the formation of the Committee and contracting out the administration through the County’s Resource Conservation District who could provide simple admin support for agendas and minutes. Nothing else about the proposal has been formally considered by the Board as far as he knows, Gjerde insisted.

BACKGROUND / MSP’S COMMENTS:

MSP was (kind of) shocked when we saw the "Mendocino County Today" section of the Anderson Valley Advertiser Sunday morning. They ripped into 4th District Mendocino Supervisor Dan Gjerde of Fort Bragg - a supervisor they have a history of SUPPORTING. The AVA "thoroughly" covers the Mendocino Supervisors - something the coast newspapers have yet to learn to do. If Gjerde, who earned his political "chops" as a 14-year Fort Bragg city councilman - to be elected (unopposed) for his first term as Mendocino Supervisor in 2012 & relected in 2016, has any hope at re-election, he had better change the perception of him being a "do-nothing" Supervisor. You can bet he will be challenged in his next election - especially since the Supes are now paid $85K a year. On social media, Supervisor Gjerde's last post to Facebook was March 19th and worse, his "Dan Gjerde for Mendocino County Supervisor" page hasn't been updated since August 19th, 2012. MSP watches the Supervisors meeting and we have to agree with the criticism - Gjerde barely speaks, and if he has publicly disagreed with County CEO (since 2010) Carmel "Captain Queeg" Angelo we haven't witnessed it. The reason for the AVA's ire against Mr. Gjerde was the placing of a highly-paid job ($94,000) for the Mendocino Environmental Center on the "consent calendar' where it would be approved without discussion. The scathing "performance" review was as follows: "Gjerde has been disappointing as a supervisor. We expected him to be a version of (5th District Supe Ted) Williams, but at the moment he's doing a (Dan) Hamburg sans comfort dog. He shows up, says virtually nothing, introduces nothing, picks up his fat check, heads back to the Coast. The Fort Bragg solon seems to have peaked as a Fort Bragg city councilman, where he almost singlehandedly put an end to the most flagrant civic corruption in County history. But with much less perilous corruption right in front of his supervisorial puss, Gjerde is silent."

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CATCH OF THE DAY, MAY 12, 2019

Ackerman, Alvarado-Ramirez, Avilla

CHRISTOPHER ACKERMAN, Ukiah. Under influence.

BRAYAN ALVARADO-RAMIREZ, Santa Rosa/Hopland. DUI, probation revocation.

JOHN AVILLA. Ukiah. Probation revocation.

Castillo, Corona, Espinoza

SUELUMATRA CASTILLO, Nice/Calpella. Felon-addict with firearm, false ID.

RAMOS CORONA, Fort Bragg. DUI.

SANDRA ESPINOZA, Ukiah. Concealed dirk-dagger, paraphernalia, failure to appear.

Ewing, Hanover, Jackson

JESSICA EWING, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

ROBERT HANOVER, Covelo. Domestic abuse.

JAY JACKSON, Ukiah. County Parole violation.

Johnson, Luna, Ray, Shields

DEVAUN JOHNSON, Calpella. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

JEREMIAH LUNA, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, parole violation.

CASEY RAY, Covelo. Probation revocation.

JOHNNY SHIELDS, Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

Simpson, Stone, Williams

DAVID SIMPSON, Ukiah. Under influence.

BRANDON STONE, Fort Bragg. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, failure to appear.

ERIC WILLIAMS, Redwood Valley. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

* * *

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

I imagine that no matter what happens people will need food. To buy that food you will have to pay a competent farmer a price that is profitable. Now it is true that his farm has limits ecologically and geographically, so that dollar multiplier can only grow so far in any given context. I’m not arguing for unlimited expansion. I am arguing for a fair ROI for doing a job. That will always happen or humanity will starve. Agriculture, even outside of the context of money is capitalistic. If you take good care of your plants, then they yield good seed and your effort is multiplied. The same is true with livestock. Capitalism is the name of the game!

* * *

* * *

BERNIE SANDERS: “If we're going to reverse the 40-year decline of the middle class and reduce the widening gap between the super-rich and everyone else, we must restore the constitutional right of workers to collectively bargain for a better life.”

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MT. SHASTA AT DAWN. Photo by Jude Allen

* * *

THE KRENOV SCHOOL 2019 GRADUATION SHOW,

MAY 18 – 27 at Partners Gallery

OPENING RECEPTION: MAY 18TH 5-8PM

Graduating Krenov School students proudly present their fine woodworking at Partners Gallery May 18th to May 27th. With one semester of excellent instruction under their belt, this year's students have set out to push boundaries and explore exciting designs in their second semester projects. From curved and veneered works to chairs new and old, the talent and craftsmanship of this year's class will be on full display.

Founded in 1981 by master cabinetmaker James Krenov, The Krenov School is known far and wide for the refined works of its meticulous and ambitious graduates. Drawn in from all over the world, a diverse array of students come for the opportunity to hone their skills and to dive deep into nuances of fine woodworking. This year marks an important milestone for the program with the most women representing it in its history — 10 of the 22 students. We are excited and proud at the growth in interest and accessibility of the program to this demographic and hope only to expand on it. Come celebrate all the wonderful works with us!

Partners Gallery, 335 N Franklin St, Fort Bragg, CA 95437

open daily 10am-6pm.

More information: http://www.thekrenovschool.org

707 964-7056

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* * *

WELCOME AND CONGRATULATIONS REUNION PARTY

Redwood Valley Community Guild Welcome and Congratulations Reunion Party

We are celebrating the event of Justice; blind justice has won! Hoorah!

We, the Redwood Valley Community Guild, have been heard in court. Failure to be truthful under oath can be fatal, because the Truth is more powerful. As our members originally voted to stay with our parent organization, the CA Guild, and avoid the pro-GMO Grange, we are now celebrating our membership reunion. Come join our celebration 6:30 pm, Tuesday, May 28 at 124 Ford St. in Ukiah. For more information, please visit our Facebook page or call/text Ike at 707-478-8557.

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* * *

ONE BALL SYNDROME

Editor,

Why do men with two balls dice with death for fear of losing one? They neglect the warning symptoms for a long time, risking that the cancer will spread, all for the shame attached to "one ball" syndrome — "Hitler, he only had one ball," etc. At age 15 in 1960, I lost a testicle, and the embarrassment for fear of ridicule has been so great that I have never once told a male friend. It is time for men with one ball to come out and for other men not to endanger themselves or die for the sake of losing a ball.

John Taylor

Bridgport, Dorset, England (via LRB)


ED NOTE: Mr. Taylor’s reference is to a common ditty sung by many Brits during World War II, sung to the tune of the Colonel Bogey March (aka Bridge of the River Kwai Theme):

Hitler, he only has one ball.

Goering has two but they are small.

Himmler is very sim’lar

And Goebbels has no balls at all.

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* * *

THE APPEARANCE OF CRONYISM

To the Editor:

I applaud the Ukiah Daily Journal for its editorial which ran today, Sunday, May 12 (see above).

Earlier this week, I spoke to the Investigations Unit of the California State Auditor. They agreed with the many of the points raised in the editorial.

In short, the Mendocino County Climate Action Advisory Committee (CAAC) has the appearance of cronyism. Most certainly members of the Mendocino Environmental Center (MEC) -- especially the MEC's board -- will be the core nucleus of the CAAC, and the MEC will drive the CAAC agenda.

Furthermore, the program manager's job at the CAAC, which has a total compensation package of $94,812, and which 2nd District Supervisor John McCowen clearly earmarked for the MEC's president, Alicia Bales, has the appearance of a patronage job.

2nd District Supervisor John McCowen, who is sponsoring the CAAC, is the MEC's landlord, and he is also a close personal friend of Bales.

As the MEC's landlord, McCowen typically writes off the rent that is due from the MEC. He writes it off as a charitable contribution to the MEC. I would know. I was on the MEC board from 2016-2019.

There are other issues.

McCowen will be running for re-election in a closely contested race in 2020 with Ukiah Mayor, Mo Mulheren. Ms. Mulheren is a declared candidate.

The gift of the CAAC to the MEC, and the gift of a patronage job for Bales, could be interpreted by the California Fair Political Practices Commission as a violation.

McCowen's actions may give the appearance of undue influence. McCowen may be trying to trade his sponsorship of the CAAC for the MEC's support in 2020. The MEC has a membership list in the hundreds of voters -- both active and inactive members -- and underwriters with numerous employees who are also registered voters.

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors (BOS) can remedy the appearances of impropriety by doing the following

(x) the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District should administer the CAAC; the person hired as CAAC program manager should be a "domain expert" on controlling carbon emissions; the $110,00 budgeted for the CAAC in general funds from the county is start-up money only; it will be expected that the CAAC seek sustaining federal and/or state funding; and the CAAC should be subject to the Brown Act.

A domain expert should be defined as a licensed environmental engineer, climatology scientist, recycling and waste management engineer, licensed hydrologist, solar energy engineer, or other such expert.

Thank you.

John Sakowicz

1st Supervisorial District, Mendocino County

* * *

FOUND OBJECT

8 Responses to "MCT: Monday, May 13, 2019"

  1. George Hollister   May 13, 2019 at 6:30 am

    If it is possible to effectively sue Cal Fish & Wildlife for being slow with permitting, there are countless entities who would have done it. The problem is not just slowness, either. There is gross ignorance, and power mongering as well. Same can be said for Water Resources, and Water Quality. Usually the excuse for slowness is not enough staffing, and not enough money. These agencies also don’t care about the interests of permittees, and can levy big fines for non-compliance, which they do occasionally to set an example for everyone else. They are shielded from the legislature, by design, so don’t bother contacting your state legislator. The governor appoints the respective director and governing board. Good luck there, too. Staff is basically on their own. Political, and philosophical bias of staffers can be a significant factor for determining outcomes. What happens in Humboldt County can be different than what is happening in Mendocino County. There are learned strategies for permittees to best deal with this reality. Begging, while on hands and knees, is not out of the question. Don’t try bribery, either. That will surely land you in jail.

    How can these agencies get away with it? For 99% of the public, who do not have to deal with them, they are doing God’s work. They have the full support of the public, including the AVA, most of the time.

    Reply
    • Harvey Reading   May 13, 2019 at 8:47 am

      Poor baby.

      Reply
  2. John Sakowicz   May 13, 2019 at 7:22 am

    Caption for today’s Found Object: “Wayne Lapierre, I’m comin’ for ya, punk!”

    Reply
  3. Bob Abeles   May 13, 2019 at 8:09 am

    Found Object: “What more could I have done? I printed those emails out AND shredded them!”

    Reply
  4. Bill Pilgrim   May 13, 2019 at 9:06 am

    Found Object: “You can’t handle the truth!”

    Reply
  5. Harvey Reading   May 13, 2019 at 9:53 am

    So, one ball is better than none?

    Reply
  6. Harvey Reading   May 13, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Found Object: Is that a picture of George in his uniform?

    Reply
  7. Harvey Reading   May 13, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/05/13/us-press-reaches-all-time-low-on-venezuela-coverage/

    USA! USA! USA! Yeah, right …

    Reply

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