Off the Record (July 17, 2019)

CEO CARMEL ANGELO does not own or drive a Tesla, as incorrectly reported here last week with the implication that the lushly compensated county CEO was high hattin’ it over  the county’s under-compensated line workers. We regret errors of fact and make haste to correct them, which isn’t to say that we’re particularly mourning this one.

A READER WRITES: “Speaking from a first-hand perspective, my own patch of forest – bordering MRC timber land – has been piling up the fuel bed for 40+ years, with disastrous potential a mere spark away. The same appears to be true for the larger situation as far as the eye can see. The precociousness of youth and a more friendly climate regime made it seem like a good idea back then. Trump thinks we can just rake all the stuff up; who knows what the confusing state and local regs are supposed to accomplish. The ‘inconvenient truth’ is a lot of development is in places that are destined to burn at some point. Defensible space? Six lanes of freeway didn’t stop it in Santa Rosa.”

THOSE GRUMBLES you're hearing from every corner of the county arise from the disappearance of Pacific.net from cyber-space and its slo-mo restoration. It raised hell with us, and must have hurt them a lot worse. We were unable to receive incoming email for almost four full days. You'd think there'd be some way for the Ukiah-based business to inform their customers of what's going on and how long we'd be off-line, but Pacific isn't even answering its phones, probably because they quickly got tired of people screaming at them. We've been with them from the beginning, and intend to stick with them, but jeez.

THE GOOD NEWS: "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is defying Nancy Pelosi's call to stop the tweets and will not be changing her social media habits after the speaker delivered a harsh tongue-lashing to her Democratic lawmakers in the Capitol Wednesday morning, warning them to stop tweeting about their colleagues. ‘No,’ the freshman Democrat said with a big grin to DailyMail.com when asked if she'd be changing her Twitter habits after Pelosi's lecture. She then went on to the House floor to vote."

BLESS AOC ALL HER DAYS. It's about time the Democratic worm began to turn, and the people doing the turning are a handful of young women unlikely, as Bernie shamefully did for Hillary last election, to stand for the inevitable Biden nomination. As a cringing registered Democrat most of my life, with a few departures for Peace and Freedom and the Green Party, I'm actually looking forward for once to the Democratic convention when the big split in the party really manifests itself. The AOC-Warren-Bernie wing of the party reflects the true interests of many more Americans than the Biden-Pelosi-Trumpers do, for a political fact. 

SUPERVISOR McCOWEN has the drop-fall hypocritical nerve to write: “Regret the late notice, but just wanted to make sure you were aware that the Board of Supervisors will consider adoption of a resolution to form the Mendocino County Climate Action Advisory Committee (MCCAAC) at our meeting on July 9. The item is 6b on the agenda and should come up at approximately 10:30 depending on how quickly earlier items go. As you know, the need for the MCCAAC has been derided by some, while others have used it as an opportunity to make false and self-serving allegations. Please consider attending to show support for the resolution."

ED NOTE; McCowen's reference to “derided by some” is, of course, aimed at the mighty AVA. McCowen doesn't communicate with us these days other than an "off the record" phone call wherein he tells us how wrong we are about this or that action of his, which he wouldn't dare put on the record, as in this instance where he straight-up lies about his lobbying effort on behalf of his non-paying tenants at the Potemkin organization at 106 W. Standley, especially his dual tenant, Alicia Little Tree Bales. (McCowen's own Earth First! moniker is that hippie standby, "River.") McCowen had hoped to water the tree, so to speak, by sneaking this absolutely fraudulent Climate Change scam by on the consent calendar. It included a highly paid position for, he hoped, Ms. Tree, who then complained she'd been threatened by Sako and e-mailed me that she was reporting me to Google and the police! (No, Tree, no, not that!) The complaints about McCowen's gift of public funds to the gang of deadbeats clustered at the MEC were loud enough from us and the Ukiah Daily Journal that McCowen's palsy-walsy ploy was downsized to seven grand for fraudulent purposes yet to be determined. If the County Counsel doesn't recognize a conflict of interest this plain she ought to be fired, and McCowen un-elected. PS. Here is the chart McCowen had prepared when the CAAC proposal first appeared on the agenda:

SPORTS NOTE by Stephen Rosenthal: “For me it’s a bit bittersweet that the Women’s World Cup Football Tournament has ended, albeit successfully for the US Women. I’m so happy the US National Women’s Team won, but somewhat sad that it will be another 4 years until the next opportunity to see these remarkable athletes play in a significant setting. Sure the Olympics are next year, but that event has become such a commercial and political miasma that it no longer captures the spirit of sports. Soccer is a beautiful game when played by women, not so much by men. It’s time to recognize the women’s game not merely with cheering, platitudes, congratulatory tweets and victory parades, but with equal pay as well.”

FIVE SENIOR Mendocino Redwood Company foresters for Mendocino County have reportedly resigned under as-yet unexplained circumstances, but sources say there's been a major shift in the Fisher family's attitude about their huge holdings in Mendocino and Humboldt County. From what we've gathered, the Fishers have brought in a crew of young forestry managers from Red Emmerson's Sierra Pacific company. For decades, Emerson has been famous for his high cut rates in the Sierras, particularly lately with the heavy logging of burned out and dead and dying forests. Last we heard Emerson was the fourth biggest land-owner in the United States, much of it forest. In addition, he's dominant in National Forest logging these days, especially fir and the less commercial species. His crew has a well-deserved reputation for their contempt for government and environmentalists and regulations of any kind. 

MRC’S NEIGHBORS who have enjoyed reasonably serene relationships with the company in recent years are worried that the new regime will make it difficult for them to deal with MRC on roads, easements, property lines, harvest plan reviews, etc. Recent price increases for redwood lumber have further changed the local timber industry, leading to rumors that MRC is refusing to buy already cut timber from existing logging jobs in an effort to force down their cost and give them higher margins for finished milled lumber. 

THE FIRE HAZARD implications for the standing dead tree issue also worries neighbors, and outstanding legal questions from the State Attorney General about the legality of Mendo’s ballot measure declaring standing dead trees to be a nuisance leave many unsure what the new regime at MRC may mean for fire prevention plans, evacuation routes (through MRC land?), and the extent of help MRC may offer if or when there's a fire on their vast Mendo holdings.

MRC’S SHIFT to the Sierra-Pacific model of forest management has been going on for several years now, back to MRC’s 2014 hiring of Bob Mertz, former Sierra Pacific executive, followed by Dennis Thibeault, climate change denier, also from Sierra Pacific. This latest series of departures and new recruits is not likely to endear Mendocino Redwood to locals of whatever political persuasion.

WE’VE HAD TROUBLE keeping up with the Golden State Warriors’ trades, acquisitions and signings since the playoffs ended, but the new lineup is now taking shape.

Gone are quite a few familiar names: Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Jordan Bell, Quinn Cook, Shaun Livingston, Demarcus Cousins, Andrew Bogut and Damian Jones.

Retained: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney and Alfonzo McKinnie. (However, Klay Thompson is injured and isn’t expected back in the lineup until 2021.)

New names include several we don’t recognize and will have to wait to see how they develop into the 2020 season: D’Angelo Russell (former all-star for the Brooklyn Nets), Willie Cauley-Stein (a solid Center for the Sacramento Kings), Glenn Robinson III, Alec Burks, Jacob Evans, Omari Spellman, plus rookies Eric Paschall, Jordan Poole and Alen Smailagic. Several of the non-rookie new names are very young. So the Warriors who begin pre-season next fall at their fancy new SF stadium will be a much younger team overall than we’ve been accustomed to watching.

The roster for now is:

Guards: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, D'Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans, Jordan Poole.

Wings/Forwards: Alec Burks, Alfonzo McKinnie, Glenn Robinson III.

Wing/Bigs (i.e., could play center): Draymond Green, Eric Paschall, Alen Smailagic.

Bigs: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kevon Looney, Omari Spellman. 

The new players certainly have good records and lots of potential. The new all-star D’Angelo Russell was known more as a shooter, driver, and “pick and roll” specialist than for his passing which the Warriors have been good at. Omari Spellman may be the most interesting player to watch. He’s 6-9, and weighed as much as 293 while playing for the Altanta Hawks in his first NBA season last year. He’s reportedly trying to lose weight because he and his coaches think extra weight makes him injury prone. But even if he gets down to his target 245, he’ll still a big fellow. How well he can play back-up center at 6-9 assuming he loses the weight will be one of the things fans will be looking closely at next season. 

So the Warriors are no longer the “super-team” of the recent Curry-Thompson-Durant-Green era. And the much of the loyal, predominantly Oakland-centric fan base will not follow the team to San Francisco where the fans who can afford the pricier tickets will be a whiter, more techied, less boisterous bunch — and the home-crowd energy at the home games will not give the Warriors the advantage it has in the past. 

All in all, an interesting season ahead — if the Golden State itself survives the wildfire season and economy doesn’t tank.

(Mark Scaramella)

STARTLING news from marijuana world arrived on Friday night's BBC News in a segment about upwards of 150 illegal Los Angeles dispensaries doing business right out in the open, and virtually indistinguishable from the legal dispensaries. The illegals, unburdened by pesky licensing fees and sales taxes, are of course much cheaper than the legals, and there's a very big rub with legalization. The good news for Emerald Triangle growers, including those here in the Anderson Valley, is that product prices are rising. Our informants tell us they expect to get $1500 a pound this year, more for quality dope.

MEDIA are so despised that they've got to give themselves awards. I've belatedly noticed that David Muir of ABC News claims he has won "Four Edward R. Murrow Awards." It says so on-screen every night after Muir concludes his nightly telecasts, wrapping them up with pure mawk — a soldier surprising his kids at a high school event; a little girl "the youngest ever" climbing a cliff face; a one-armed baseball player. Edward R. Murrow's descendants must have raffled off his name because there's no way the real Murrow would approve of Muir or any other tv news reader. I make this statement of the obvious because.… Well because Muir and the even more egregious Scott Simon of NPR seem symbolic of the times, that they're not only tolerated but celebrated. Don't get me started on Hannity who, even in my decrepitude, I dream of assaulting. "Hear that, Hannity? I catch you in Boonville… and… well… uh…"

THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS are from the on-line ava:

(1) 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.

(2) 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 privateers 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 then there’s 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?

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 do well to consider the same thing. Lake County’s list is at lakecounty.org. 

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.

ON LINE COMMENTS OF THE WEEK

[1] My passion is and has been creating a Farmers Market & Flea Market. The one big draw back for small business and fledgling startups is overhead. A nearby open 1 to 2 acre field near downtown with parking can be a Godsend for citizens and entrepreneurs. Many a boutique food business gets a start selling honey, maple syrup, vegetables, flour, grains, pastries, meats in a Farmers Market and the Flea Market could hold sellers from everything from A to Z. resellers could pick up items at garage sales and closeout buys. The town could bring in extra income from space rental and parking fees. I’ve seen business selling cheese and other food items get popular enough to have supermarkets and restaurants buy from them. The bigger the crowd gets the more various sellers join in. Maybe a furniture company could get a start. Maybe slate roofs will again become popular or marble flooring. Maybe a B&B or a great restaurant to draw outsiders money. Things snowball once things get started.

[2] Boycott all Dispensaries…. Black Market pot is cheaper and usually home grown. Whenever possible buy direct from the farmer and leave the greasy middle men like Flow Kana out of the loop. We all know organic homegrown when we see, touch, feel and smoke it. Who needs corporate cannabis if you have good neighbors and friends who grow. Picked up 2 pounds of bomb bud last year for 1600 total, that’s $800pp, that beats $45 an eighth or 200 an ounce from the dispensaries, and, not only did I save, but the farmer made off better than Flow Kana was offering them. Remember to always buy farmer direct and save while supporting small farmers directly!

4 Responses to "Off the Record (July 17, 2019)"

  1. Michael Koepf   July 19, 2019 at 9:14 am

    News flash: The Squad announces their core political agenda.
    AOC: “Racism, racism, racism!”
    Ayanna Pressley. “Racism, racism, racism!”
    Rashida Tlaib: “Racism, racism, racism!”
    Ilhan Omar: “Racism, racism, racism! Israeli Jews are Nazis!”

    Reply
    • Pat Kittle   July 22, 2019 at 6:30 pm

      What??

      Comparing Israeli Jews to Nazis??

      That’s unfair! To Nazis.

      Have a nice day!
      :-)

      Reply
  2. Iggy   July 19, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    POTUS could use a deep thinker like Mr. Koeph!

    Reply
    • Michael Koepf   July 20, 2019 at 6:56 am

      If you can’t spell my name correctly, Iggy, that’s dysgraphia and dysgraphia is racism. Racism, racism, racism!

      Reply

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