- Sunny Days
- Florida Cracker
- County Management
- Pacific Email
- Lion Attack
- Hospitality Concerns
- Your Perfect
- Outage List
- Utility Bailout
- Parallel Parking
- Reimbursing Firefighters
- Boonville Dispensary
- Coddling Dictators
- Rustic Degenerates
- Excluding Rex
- Yesterday's Catch
- Sterling Stamina
- Bad Law
- Healthcare Profiteers
- Orange Floyd
- Polk Salad
- Public Safety
- Tangerine Wankmaggot
- Communist Friend
- Oligarch Dell
DRY WEATHER is expected across northwest California during the next seven days. High temperatures will generally be in the 80s to around 90 across the interior through Tuesday. Highs will rise a few more degrees for Wednesday and Thursday. Sunshine will be widespread across the interior, while periods of marine stratus are expected along the coast. (National Weather Service)
BOS NEEDS CHANGES
Back in 2007, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors made a decision. They passed an ordinance creating a new Chief Executive Officer position in the County. That ordinance abolished the former Chief Administrative Officer position that had been the county norm for decades.
At the time, the CEO idea seemed like a good one. The county supervisors back then were often mired in every little detail of the county’s operation. “Micromanaging” was a word heard often when describing the board’s weekly meetings. Because the CAO did not have all the powers of a CEO, the CAO would bring to the board lots of small matters that, when they started to mount up, seemed way beyond what the board really needed to involve itself with.
Having a CEO with broader powers to actually run county departments without having to come to the board all the time, appeared to be the answer.
But as a recent Mendocino County Grand Jury report suggests, the outcome after a decade with a CEO is that the board is much less responsive to constituents and less involved in setting policy.
The grand jury, in its investigation, found that the board does almost no strategic planning for the county. According to the grand jury, such a plan “should include applicable benchmarks to address issues of homelessness, fire prevention, economic development, housing and other major issues.”
The grand jury goes on to note that the BOS “is reactive and issues directives and establishes ad hoc committees only as concerns and issues arise.”
Even when they do issue directives or form ad hoc committees, there is often little follow up and action often is either non-existent or long in coming. Deadlines are rarely set, completion dates or benchmarks rarely given.
The grand jury looked at the Sonoma County website and found a county that published and tracked all activities on an “Action List” which outlines “goals, proposed action, potential activities or projects, status, funding status, primary agency, county role, other county agencies and outside partners, on a chart that clearly provides substantive information regarding what their BOS is pursuing.”
The grand jury also found that the BOS does not make it easy for county residents to weigh in on their activities. People who speak at the meetings are rarely if ever given any feedback and there’s no place on the county website for people to communicate with their supervisors. The board also often puts controversial items — like pay raises for themselves — on the consent agenda which lumps together lots of items that will not be discussed, only passed without comment.
Creating a CEO position in the county may still have been a good idea. But it will not work if the board uses it as an excuse to divorce itself from the real work of being a supervisor.
(K.C. Meadows, Editor, Ukiah Daily Journal. Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal.)
THE FOLLOW COMMENTS are from the on-line ava:
Is it the norm for counties to have a CEO who is as reviled as Carmel Angelo?
Why do you suppose people don’t like her and wish the Board of Supes would replace her? Is it because she has wasted millions of your tax dollars? Is it because she has created a culture of nepotism and fear within the bureaucracy of the county? Is it because she greedily spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on anticipated cannabis revenue that never materialized because her office so badly bungled the roll-out of legalization and did real damage to the local economy? Is it because when the Redwood Fires happened, there was no real emergency plan and no alarm was sounded causing people to die? Is it because she continues to pay out millions in outside contracts, with no accountability, when much of the work could be done within the county structure? Angelo surrounds herself with yes-men and ass-kissers and gives the heave-ho to anyone who tries to actually improve things or disagrees with her.
When will the Supes wake up? It is definitely NOT normal to have a Chief Executive Officer who is so thoroughly despised by the majority of people in the county who have ever had anything to do with her. This includes the majority of county staff as well as many of the movers and shakers in Mendocino County!
There are many people in the county who are more qualified than Angelo. For example, Ann Molgaard, another victim of CEO Angelo and Director Tammy Chandler’s disappearing act, is a former Director of Operations for HHSA, the former Director of First Five, and has a long history of public administration among her many other accomplishments. She is born and bred here and is an attorney. She is sensible and compassionate, willing to listen and learn. She would be a perfect candidate for CEO, but there are many others.
As to Director Chandler, she left Sonoma County under a cloud, only to turn up in Mendo and take a page from Angelo – firing or marginalizing any staff member who was perceived as a threat to her power. The Supervisors need to stop allowing these power-hungry opportunists to run rough-shod over county employees, waste taxpayer monies, and fail to provide vital county services.
I know hundreds of county employees and they truly care about our community. They show up every day, work for the good of the public, and they deserve better. Our county deserves better.
Thank you for providing a forum where people can get and share real news and opinions.
You are 100% correct. People scream and scream and complain everything falls on deaf ears as far as the Board of Supervisors who are supposed to be the ones to hold her accountable. You try to ask the CEO for any information you just get a huge gigantic circular conversation that blame shifts off to everyone and 6 months later you wind up back at the point you started. It’s ridiculous the games that they play and the lack of efficiency; all of the money that gets awarded for Grants or new programs gets wasted and squandered down by the higher-ups before anything even happens. It’s pretty gosh darn pathetic to watch this happening over and over again when smaller counties are run much more efficiently and even larger counties run fantastically well and here we are in our swirling cesspool. No help from the higher-ups, no help from the attorney general, grand jury reports fall on deaf ears. We should change the name of Mendocino County to Tarpit County. Because that’s basically what happens; everything gets stuck in the tar pits and that’s it.
NOTHING here that contradicts our observations, lo, these many years. I would say that ever since Ms. Angelo was elevated to CEO on the apparent basis of her willingness, not to say delight, in firing people, she's suffered a series of laughably incompetent boards of supervisors, where the lazy and the crazy have had at least a 3-2 majority. Until the elections of Williams and Haschak, and the verdict isn't in yet on the latter, for the past dozen years the supervisors have not functioned as a responsible body. Ms. Angelo simply stepped into the authority vacuum and assumed the reins of local government in lieu of supervision from the supervisors. For instance, the privatization of much of the mental health function to the tune of nearly $20 million a year has enabled Mr. and Mrs. Schraeder to do whatever they do in the fiscal dark, with no reports back to the public on how effective they are for all the public money annually handed to them. But even the remaining public bureaucracies don't report to the supervisors except to occasionally cry for more money. And insider hiring. And arbitrary, unexplained firings, and whole meeting hours given over to mutual congratulation. The Grand Jury has carefully limned all the problems complained about above, but when's the last time a county bureaucracy paid anything but pro forma attention to the GJ? The beat goes on. And on.
MARK SCARAMELLA ADDS:
No real point in adding anything new here. Nothing’s going to change. What’s amazing is that the Grand Jury actually had to point out that the County doesn’t do any real reporting, even on the many tasks that the Board has given to the CEO and the CEO agreed she’d work on. Last September we summarized a few of the more notable assignments given to CEO and staff and what’s even more amazing is they are still outstanding and neither the CEO nor the Supervisors have expressed any interest in following up:
From Our September 2018 report:
…More and more action items are accumulating on CEO Angelo’s “to do list” — based upon promises or assignments from the Board in public session — which shouldn't be allowed to languish unaddressed.
There’s the long-delayed Exclusive Operating Area for inland ambulance services, which Angelo has allowed to fall into permanent limbo by dumping the poor-performing Sonoma County Coastal Valley EMS service before having a comparable function set up locally.
There’s the Sheriff’s Overtime budget which Angelo and staff were supposed to be monitoring and reporting on monthly since assigning an arbitrarily low budget to it in June.
There are the long-delayed budget reporting “metrics” which are occasionally mentioned, promises implied or given, but no reports are forthcoming.
There are the hundreds of seemingly permanently stalled pot permit applications which, after almost a year, are still “in queue” or “under review.” (Not to mention the costly, endless “overlay zone” pot permit process which has been going on for months now and only getting farther off.)
There’s the promise to re-organize the Probation Department so that the County isn’t stuck with having to pay for the mistakes and benign neglect by their majesties of the Superior Court.
There continue to be retroactive cash hand-outs on almost every Board agenda without explanation even though the Board has declared “no more retroactive contracts” and staff has promised to obey.
The housing problem, while talked about often by the Board, remains unattended and unaddressed beyond the minor steps associated with the fire recovery program. As a short example, we have Supervisor Gjerde mentioning the availability of modest house specs a couple of weeks ago before they were ready to be released and which are now under review by the County Counsel’s office with no deadline and no sense of urgency. [Update: a couple of Specs were issued, but they are still under review for use on the Coast. No one has asked if anyone has used any of them for an actual building permit.)
The Marbut Report produced some agreements and promises from Mental Health sub-czar Molgaard (the czarina of those many annual millions is Tammy Moss Chandler) and their crew of overpaid helping professionals to revise the way the county’s homeless and transient population is treated. The Supes vaguely (and officially) agreed. But nothing has changed and nobody asks.
There are the still incomplete memorandums of agreement relating to Mental Health Services to be provided by affiliated agencies that were supposed to have been completed in the wake of the transition from Ortner’s failed mental health services to Redwood Quality Management Company two years ago. They have been "almost finished" for well over a year now.
And that roster of the not done is just off the top of our head. Just like back in the Mitchell days, there needs to be Board-maintained official action item list with target completion dates, names of persons responsible, budget impact, and status on every item that the CEO promises to do or that the Board orders her to do. And each item needs to be reported on at every Board meeting. In Writing. Without it, the whole show just limps aimlessly and randomly along. Things that the CEO committed to do — things which have significant impact on County operations and beyond — are allowed to sit in limbo indefinitely in direct contradiction to Board direction and staff promises.
The only thing the County seems to have no trouble doing is giving big raises to itself, especially to its top officials — in spite of the poor performance listed above.
If the County can’t even track and manage the things that they themselves have committed to do, what hope is there that the general public’s priorities will ever get addressed?
DROP THAT TERRIER!
Mountain Lion attack on Cameron Rd Sat July 12
A large Mt. Lion attacked and carried off a Jack Russel Terrier 8 ft. from it's owner in broad daylight on Saturday, 7-13-19 about 4 mi. up Cameron Rd. Elk. The owner gave chase yelling loudly for 100 yds. and the cat dropped the dog, who survived with puncture wounds to the head and neck.
(Coast Listserve post)
FORT BRAGG CORRECTS (with on line comment in parens at the end)
For years, the Hospitality Center board has had a habit of twisting their stories to fit their wants and for denying responsibility for the results of their deceptive actions. City Council members gave them everything they wanted. The required reports included no tangible results regarding public money spent in return, just like the departmental and contractor reports accepted at the Board of Supervisors meetings. So no one knew just what was happening with the money or how many people were being helped.
They were running the Emergency Shelter and asked their clients to gather near the Hospitality House to be taken to the churches for the night. There were clients who were drunk, on drugs, fighting, leaving used dirty needles, empty alcohol bottles and garbage in the alley and around the nearby businesses. They continually harassed the neighboring business owners and customers. When asked repeatedly to corral the men onto the property and to ensure that the area was kept clean, the Hospitality Center board said it wasn’t their responsibility. Rather than comply with their agreement, and take advantage of the many opportunities to make things right, they thumbed their noses at the public. That’s when the city made new rules for checking in to stay at the Emergency Shelter. The Hospitality Center board didn’t like it, especially because the intake location was moved from the Hospitality Center alley. It’s too difficult for them to change their ways and adhere to the terms of the new agreement (it also included some items based on Marbut report recommendations). No one has said “No” to the Hospitality Center before and they don’t like it. They tried to run the Emergency Shelter with its new system for a single season and decided it’s too much for them. And, as usual, they lied (about the funding this time) so they didn’t have to take responsibility for their own decision.
They never should have been allowed to expand as they have. They are inept and dishonest. Local government has to demand data when talking with them or they will continue to pull the wool over their eyes with their false presentations. Councilmember Morsell-Hayes and the City manager must have believed them about the funding without confirming their claims. I hope they learned that the Hospitality Board can’t be trusted to be truthful no matter how sweet and poor-me their conversations. Our 4th district supervisor has to take responsibility for the mess, too. Social services is a County, not a City, service and he did not attend most of the city council meetings when homeless issues and funding were on the agendas. I vote for a new organization to be formed to take over homeless services.
The Hospitality Center is also a subcontractor on the coast for the County’s privatized mental health system.
p.s. Drive by their Old Coast Hotel. It looks very run down now, badly in need of exterior paint and repair. Where will they find the money for the high maintenance costs on such an old building? I stopped donating money to the Hospitality Center long ago, preferring to help individual homeless people.
GOOD IDEA out of Lake County re: Planned outages. Some locals there working with County officials have prepared a list of businesses and services and whether they plan to stay open during an outage and to what degree. Mendo would to well to consider the same thing. Lake County’s list is at lakecounty.org.
ANOTHER ELECTRICAL BAILOUT ON THE WAY
by Jim Shields
The much ballyhooed PG&E appearance at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting was, to say the least, much ado about nothing.
Two PG&E representatives offered up an oral report replete with the mandatory Power Point slide show, but at the end of the day their message was unmistakable:
Everybody should have emergency plans in place if and when we power down our electrical grid for maybe five days or longer because you’re going to be on your own.
The five supervisors were not buying what the electrical monopoly was selling.
For example, when asked what were PG&E’s plans to assist their customers whose medical conditions require oxygen equipment, their reply was, “We’re not in the oxygen business and you shouldn’t be either.”
What about all the folks who are buying small generators in anticipation of what PG&E calls a “Public Safety Power Shut Off (PSPS). As pointed out by a Laytonville resident in a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on this subject said, “Let me tell you what will happen, and a person does not even need to be smart to figure it out, they just need a bit of common sense. Try to go buy a generator these days — they are going like hot-cakes. A couple of million people will be buying generators, and many will be running them 24/7. After all, there are freezers full of food, there are people who have medical needs (I have terminal cancer myself), and many people wouldn’t know what to do with themselves without running their TVs. Most of all — people need to run air conditioners during the worst heat. Many people would simply die without it. Would that be an acceptable public cost? So during a power outage several million people will be running generators. Aside from the obvious horror of having 20-30 generators running within earshot all night and day — don’t you think that among these millions of people at least a couple of dozen will be stupid enough to start fires with their generators? Well, it won’t be PG&Es fault, and that’s the most important thing, isn’t it?”
PG&E’s response to the issue at Tuesday’s meeting was their customers should go to the company’s website and click on the button that features an explanation on how to safely operate small generators.
At one point the supervisors asked about why local governments weren’t involved in the decision-making over power shutoffs.
The PG&E reps said it was a decision made by the CPUC that the electrical companies would have sole authority to order power shutoffs based on various criteria: weather conditions, wind, fuel loads in the affected area, etc.
In reality it’s probably best that local governments don’t have veto power on the outages because they would be taking on huge liabilities in the event that they countermand a shutdown order and then PG&E equipment failures cause a fire.
The meeting concluded with the Supes telling the PG&E executives that their report was woefully inadequate and they expected the company to return in the near future armed with complete information and specificity of detail.
On the legislative front it appears that Bailout 2 is about to become reality.
The proposal, Assembly Bill 1054, allows utilities that have passed an annual safety certification process to access a $10.5 billion fund, along with the ability to take out loans from a separate $10.5 billion “liquidity fund” raised from charges to monthly electric bills.
Governor Gavin Newsom says the law is to keep California utilities at investment-grade and out of bankruptcy. If passed by the state Senate and Assembly — it requires a two-thirds approval —it would establish a $21 billion fund that the utilities could tap into for future wildfire-related liabilities.
Patrick Lavin of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents more than 11,000 electrical utility workers in the state, weighed in on the bill arguing, “Currently, a solution sits in front of legislators. AB 1054 is the product of months of research, expert input, and public hearings overseen by both Gov. Gavin Newson’s Wildfire Strikeforce as well as the Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost and Recovery.
AB 1054 will:
• Hold the state’s investor-owned electric utilities accountable for completing their wildfire mitigation plans to harden utility infrastructure, clear vegetation and invest in state-of the art weather monitoring.
• Require electric utilities and their shareholders to pay if a utility’s misconduct contributes to a fire.
• Protect victims and communities struck by wildfires by ensuring adequate resources to rebuild when fires do occur.
Failure to act before the crisis worsens will create further chaos, compromise future wildfire prevention and recovery efforts, and undoubtedly cost all Californians more.
Ultimately, we need a comprehensive approach to this new normal that includes enhanced prevention efforts and more resources for first responders. But our ability to position this state to better prevent, prepare for and respond to wildfires requires that we first establish clear, predictable rules to apportion costs when wildfires do occur, along with a well-financed, durable wildfire fund to help victims recover.”
The Utility Reform Network, long-time consumer watchdog and normally highly critical of the state’s three electrical monopolies, surprised many of us when it came out this week in favor of the bailout.
TURN said it would support AB 1054 because the bill “goes further than any previous proposals in protecting customers and victims while holding investors accountable. With the utilities’ negligence, mismanagement and incompetence driving threats of financial disaster, TURN made a political calculation that AB 1054 was the best alternative on the table.
TURN Executive Director Mark Toney said “The bill isn’t perfect, but it does limit rate hikes to what is necessary for wildfire safety, and eliminates shareholder profits on those safety measures. There was no scenario in which customers could avoid all of the costs of the safety improvements that are required. The $2.5 B shareholder contribution to wildfire safety is unprecedented, and a huge victory for consumers.”
Additional protections for customers will shield them from the costs of the PG&E’s current liabilities, and enable TURN to continue demanding that utilities are held to the highest possible standards where customer safety is concerned.
Key wins for customers:
• Rate protection: Wildfire Insurance Fund protects victims and customers, requires $10.5 B utility contribution and payback in cases of utility negligence.
• Wildfire Safety: Shareholders must pay $2.5 B and cannot profit from customers’ investment.
• PG&E Liabilities: PG&E can’t use bankruptcy to get a ratepayer bailout for 2017/2018 fires.
• Safety Standards: Does not prevent TURN from fighting for utilities to be held to highest possible standards of safety, or demanding that the CPUC hold companies accountable and follow through on promised caps on customer costs.
With solid super-majorities in both state houses, Democrats are expected to unanimously support the bailout bill being heavily pushed by Newsom.
These are decisions that are generational in consequences as our children’s children will still be paying for these bailout policies long after we are long gone.
(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.)
IN MAY, we complained about the US Forest Service’s apparent refusal to reimburse local fire agencies for volunteers who go on strike teams to fight fires on federal land. Standard practice had been for the requesting agency (typically Cal-Fire or the US Forest Service) to pay qualiied volunteers who go on out-of-county fire duty at negotiated rates similar to what paid firefighters get — as they should. The AV Fire Department responsed with a four-person team to last year’s "Delta fire" on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and submitted the usual invoice. But the Forest Service said they wouldn’t pay unless a bunch of ridiculous billing rules were followed, including a rule that said the Forest Service would only reimburse for actual out-of-pocket cost — which for local volunteers is zero. The Forest Service’ chintzy stance seemed designed to discourage volunteers from responding to forest fires on federal land. After several months of back and forth, including forcing the local Fire Department to pay the volunteers in advance, the Forest Service finally paid the AV Fire Department $20,000 for the Delta Fire response last week, $15k for volunteers and $5k for equipment. Fortunately, the AV Fire Department has enough cash on hand to cover the advance, but some small departments don’t have an extra $15k sitting around to advance to volunteers and then wait for more than a year before it’s reimbursed.
BOONVILLE is getting a marijuana dispensary in the rejuvenated Live Oak Building, which seems like a clear case of Coals to Newcastle given the abundance and availability of home grown. Nationally, the unlicensed sellers are thriving, the licensed store fronts not doing so well. Given the choice between the more expensive legal pot and the less expensive illegal, your average consumer is and will go for the less expensive.
CAN IT HAPPEN HERE? According to a report in the Daily Beast, "From Chicago to Sweden, farmers’ markets have become a surprising battleground between the far right and its opponents. The far right’s love of the markets plays into a larger fascist talking point that idealizes pastoral life and demonizes 'degenerate' urban living. The contrast attempts to cast white supremacy as a purer alternative." Fortunately for Mendo's farmer's markets, our county supplies plenty of rustic degenerates, nicely blurring the rural-urban distinction made by the fascisti.
NOTES FROM UNDER THE BUS
by Rex Gressett
People have been asking me where I have been? For years, I have been pumping out my take on the Fort Bragg City Council.
But the last few weeks I hit a wall.
I couldn’t get over it and I couldn’t dig under it. Believe me, I tried. It had all become terribly depressing. Basically, Lindy Peters the ex-mayor and his little buddy Will Lee, the new mayor, defeated me.
It will come as no surprise to you, but quite ridiculously, it surprised me that without qualification I am the most hated person on the council's shortlist of enemies. Jacob Patterson, who has done far more damage to their process and their pocketbook, is now more or less accepted by the city council as a rogue branch of government. These days when he whistles they jump. It's really amusing.
I, on the other hand, am distinctly persona non grata. (If I remotely spelled that correctly)
Excepting Bernie Norvell, of course, and also excluding the conscientiously helpful city administration, everybody in power has come to a consensus that they hate me.
I have managed to achieve a level of organized hostility and systemic contempt by the principle institution of power in our little village that you could not rival if you habitually came drunk and naked to the meetings shouting insults. I never shouted at meetings — although to hear them tell it I do.
To take one recent example. All city council business and all city business is conducted in the shadow of the impending disaster called “districting.”
It's like something out of Wagner. The cataclysm of the gods. No one talks about districting because there isn't a lot to say. In a nutshell, every city in California and every school board and anything else that has an elected government is being crushed under the iron boot of state legislation so draconian and ruthless that it effectively (hell, actually) destroys local politics in any meaningful sense of the word.
The CVRA (California Voting Rights Act) ends general elections and provides you the consolation prize of a fun little neighborhood election where you can vote in the least incompetent person on your block.
Ideology, if such exists, on the local level - principle and most certainly competence gets the ax in the interests of explicitly racial (I kid you not) gerrymandering - even where there is nothing to gerrymander.
Like, for example, Fort Bragg where Hispanics are widely and welcomely included in all neighborhoods.
District the peasants anyway, thunder obscure powers of tyranny in Sacramento and what are the locals going to do? Districting is, or will be, de facto mandatory in all cities if any lawyer decides to rake in a pile making it mandatory. Hundreds of cities have kicked back in offended indignation and every single one of them has lost big money and the court case.
Fort Bragg is on the inevitable slope to districting. Everyone on the inside, and certainly all of the Council, knows it for sure. Only Jacob Patterson's personal restraint (he only screwed them for $20,000) saved us temporarily but we had to form a basically fake committee to “deal” with the grave threat to Hispanic voting rights although no one knows what the hell they are referring to.
I am pretty sure that if an ad hoc committee could save us, I think they would have figured that out in one of the several hundred cities that have been railroaded into districting in the teeth of fierce local opposition and financially suicidal legal resistance.
But I was talking about myself.
The most interested citizens, or say the most alarmed, all signed up for the CVRA ad hoc committee. They took anybody.
After a few meetings of Marx brothers level confusion and chaos under the dingy direction of the incomparably inept Tess Albin-Smith, the City Council fired the whole committee, including me, extended implicit Council sympathy to poor Tess and hired back the whole committee excluding me at the next meeting.
The implication was that I was somehow out of control, actually, I was carefully polite but too visibly dumbfounded by the charade they had appointed the fiercely venal Tess to orchestrate.
What I knew, and they didn't want me to know, is that the city council wants simply to go to districting peacefully, That’s their plan and it may be all they can do.
They are running the city on the razor's edge of financial insolvency and pretending not. For sure, they can't afford a million-dollar lawsuit. The clincher is that the Councilpeople are all confident that they can be elected in their own neighborhoods (Will Lee explained it to me) so they figure nothing will change for the incumbency.
Of course, that will destroy any possibility of citywide electoral opposition. Not a bad thing for them and cancer for us.
Tess is in charge of finessing the literal destruction of meaningful elections in Fort Bragg. She is absolutely the perfect person to do it. Death is coming to our local politics and it is wearing her face. She thinks that makes her a big shot.
If every person in Fort Bragg wrote an impassioned letter to every senator and every representative and sent a telegram and a box of chocolate to the President, no one over the hill would notice or care a dime about Fort Bragg, California.
But the City Council is nearer to hand.
I always thought that the Council was immensely interesting. I thought that through observation and debate and discussion we could engage the council in a real community conversation I assumed that asking questions would get answers, at least partial ones, and that the Council would step up to the plate if we had a public dialogue that went a trifle further than the baby food evasions and half-truths that incite the public contempt in the pages of the Fort Bragg Advocate.
I once believed that together we could maybe get something done or at least said.
It didn’t work out that way.
Instead, I got branded and excoriated and insulted and despised. My editor looks at me like I'm crazy when I complain. As in, your point is?
But what the hell do you say from under the bus? I couldn’t think of anything.
CATCH OF THE DAY, JULY 14, 2019
FABIAN CHAVEZ, Ukiah. DUI, no license.
SAUL DIAZ-DELEON, Rohnert Park/Hopland. DUI.
JESSICA DURAZO, Covelo. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, probation revocation.
JOE GARCIA, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, resisting, failure to appear, probation revocation.
RYAN MCINTYRE, Ukiah. Domestic abuse.
HEATHER MICHAEL, Lakeport/Ukiah. Resisting, probation revocation.
SHAWN MORRIS, Calpella. Vandalism.
JOSE ORTIZ-SANTOS, Stockton/Ukiah. DUI.
SHANNON PORTIS, Ukiah. Vandalism.
KIRK RICHARDSON, Ukiah. DUI, open container.
BREIGHTON RIFFLE, Fort Bragg. Domestic abuse.
AN UNSURPASSABLE STERLING RECORD OF STAMINA
by Ralph Nader
I’ve always been fascinated by stamina. Lou Gehrig was my boyhood hero, and not just because of his batting average, clutch hitting, and dignified comportment. From 1925 to 1939 he played 2,130 ballgames in a row, not missing one, despite injuries and illnesses. (It was the record until eclipsed by the Baltimore Oriole’s formidable Cal Ripken in 1987).
Stamina by underdogs over great odds in various areas of lawful human endeavor is engrossing because of all the elements in its making. Focus, determination, resilience, skill, self-renewal, strategy and, at its best, reflective idealism.
Who isn’t fascinated by bee hives, ant colonies, birds and squirrels dutifully building nests, and the sheer alert stamina required of mammals raising their young during constant peril?
This background provides context for contemplating the end of radio’s John Sterling’s record announcing 5,060 straight New York Yankees baseball games without missing one. Since 1989, whether ill or injured, Sterling showed up every day in city after city to command the airwaves and perform his duties. He was undaunted by fatigue or repetition.
As an unreconstructed Yankees fan (from the days of Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle), I did not know about Sterling’s dedication. In between articles on contract negotiations, player trades injuries and modest misbehaviors, the New York Times finally reported this stunning streak of stamina.
It took a bout of exhaustion and his physician’s advice to convince Sterling to take some days off, sleep a lot, eat a little more to recover weight, and drink a gallon of water every day. “I’m just run down,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with me,” the 81 year old radio marathoner told the Times.
Sterling’s record could be more unbreakable than Joe DiMaggio’s still standing 56 game hitting streak.
For five years in the nineteen eighties, the amazing Sterling broadcast both the Atlanta Braves baseball games and the Atlanta Hawks basketball games.
For a game with so many tedious intervals between pitches and innings, Sterling and his co-anchor Suzyn Waldman, make baseball more interesting with their banter, humor, and player vignettes. Sterling has been a unique voice in baseball, calling home runs with rhyming ditties on the hitters’ names and, of course, his breathless game-ending call when “Theeeeeeeeeee Yankeeees Wiin.” For her part, Suzyn keeps tediously reporting the pitch counts and pitch speeds, over batting averages.
The Times wrote that Sterling was going to use his time-off to catch up with a pile of mail, too long ignored. I can resonate with that chore. Neither John nor Suzyn chose to respond to my letter in 2012 regarding the non-stop, irritating, in-play advertising that takes the spirit out of exciting plays. I expressed my sympathy for their having to read these blizzards of ads that interrupt their peak narrative. Such as “Judge’s homerun is brought to you by Kia,” or “this consultation at the mound brought to you” by some law firm. Yeah, sure.
There was no in-play commercial corrosion when their famous predecessor, Mel Allen, used to call the Yankee games on radio. Ballantine Ale, a major sponsor, was promoted only between innings.
In my letter to the heads of the Yankees and Major League Baseball, including former Yankee manager, Joe Torre, I included a detailed listing of these interruptive in-play ads for one whole ball game. Maddening. Why would advertisers want to turn off so many fans?
None of my letters were accorded a response, or even a courteous acknowledgement (the Times did briefly write up this story).
The Yankee baseball corporation, a corporate welfare king by virtue of its stadium and other tax breaks has been, alas, both censorious and very sensitive to criticism. Recently, John and Suzyn interviewed New York Times sports reporter Bob Klapisch during a ball game. Klapisch is the author of the recently released book Inside the Empire: The True Power Behind the New York Yankees. It seemed to be a friendly narrative.
All three were gushing about the genius of long-time Yankee manager Brian Cashman for his brilliant trades that have led to the Yankee’s first place standing in their Division, despite a dozen or more injuries to their starters. Unmentioned were the disastrous and very expensive trades over many years that turned out to be bad deals – getting over-the-hill stars, for instance, by trading away their talented young farm team players plus gobs of cash from Cashman.
For over a decade, Cashman wrecked the celebrated Yankee minor league farm teams that had brought forth the great players like Yogi Berra and Derek Jeter, who won more World Series than any other team. Year after year, under Cashman, the Yankees’ registered failure after failure, despite their superior cash hoard, due mostly to “bad deals” Brian. The one silver lining is that he has proven to both fans and major league baseball that the biggest treasury no longer gets the biggest victories. That was always the “knock” on the Yankees of yore from historic rivals like the Boston Red Sox, still smarting over the sale in 1920 of the great young pitcher – hitter, Babe Ruth to build the dreaded “Bronx Bombers.”
Friends often joke about my rooting for the New York Yankee imperialists – especially during the long period of corporate ownership by loud George Steinbrenner, a jolting, edgy personality whom Donald J. Trump must have studied carefully.
My response: there are some loyalties absorbed by four year old boys that never go away.
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)
COMPARE & CONTRAST
The legislation addressing surprise medical bills is only another Band-Aid applied to the nationwide problem of an inefficient, fragmented health care system. Conflicting interests, such as the hospital association and insurers point fingers in all directions, but both exist to protect the financial interests of their members, no matter what high-minded statements they might make to the press.
It’s not just the hospitals, although their fantastical asking prices, their Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price for each procedure, could kill you if you’re unfortunate enough to see them on a bill with your name at the top.
Having used medical services in both Switzerland and Germany, and paid cash for the actual cost of service under these systems, I know that regulation of both provider fees and insurer premiums is the only workable option other than a national health scheme. Costs will only be contained when the profit motive is well tempered by government oversight.
The legislation proposed by Assemblyman David Chiu is at best a Band-Aid to prevent but one type of abuse, dramatically illustrated by Jiggy Athilingam’s case, but repeated many times daily. These add up to a system whose big players serve themselves before they serve the sick or injured.
POLK SALAD ANNIE
Down in Louisiana
Where the alligators grow so mean
Lived a girl that I swear to the world
Made the alligators look tame
Polk salad Annie
‘Gators got your granny
Everybody said it was a shame
For the mama was working on the chain-gang
What a mean, vicious woman
Everyday before suppertime
She’d go down by the truck patch
And pick her a mess of Polk salad
And carry it home in a tote sack
Polk salad Annie
‘Gators got your granny
Everybody said it was a shame
‘Cause the mama was working on the chain-gang
Whoo, how wretched, spiteful, straight-razor totin’ woman,
Lord have mercy!!
(Tony Joe White/Elvis)
PASSING THE TORCH
We may need to turn off your power for public safety. — PG&E
This is yet more evidence of the built in mediocrity and criminality of business as usual in the Capitalist corporate system. It’s a sad fact that we now can assume boardrooms, state, and county governments to be stacked with an all too large a proportion of self-serving idiots, fools, and moronic underachievers.
Now instead of a reckless private utility company which the state should’ve taken over, not bailed out, causing a lot of infernos, we’ll have common folk doing it with lousy throw away generators made in China being filled with those supposed safety fuel cans which are anything but foolproof. A recipe for disaster. Even if all these shitty generators weren’t going to cause hundreds of fires, the noise pollution alone will pit TV addicted neighbor against neighbor.
It’s possible that I’m being too hard on the average Jack-n-Jill’s ability to practice safety and good sense when transporting, storing, and using highly flammable fuel. Maybe also I’ve missed something and all those off-brand garbage bottom-shelf Chinese generators have improved to where they no longer vibrate themselves to pieces while deafening everyone within hearing range. I’d welcome being wrong on this topic.
HOW TO BE OK WITH HAVING A COMMUNIST FRIEND
Human beings are social species. We gravitate towards one another based on several factors. As we earn each other's trust and friendship, we must learn to deal with our differences. A most common difference that can feel personal is our political views. If you have a friend who supports communism, and you do not support it, getting along might be difficult at times. However, with respect for each other, you can be okay with your friend who is a communist.
KNOW YOUR OLIGARCHS (#25)