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Mendo’s Climate Diversity Committee

If you were wondering whether Mendo’s recently approved “Climate Action Advisory Committee” is making any headway, you might find the following exchange at last Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting instructive. 

The committee, still in the early stages of formation, in typical Mendo Big Think, is charged with making recommendations to the Board of Supervisors to reduce Mendo’s carbon footprint (or something like that) and generally making the world a better place. Meanwhile, the rest of humanity faces looming extinction. 

Better hurry, Mendo!

Supervisor Ted Williams: “The Climate Action Advisory appointments [there were two applicants from Supervisor Dan Gjerde’s Fourth District]. These are Supervisor Gjerde’s and I fully support him making this decision and I support the individuals he has chosen. But I believe when we approved the resolution it referenced a document that had the intention of ensuring diversity. I'm not sure with this process how we are going to accomplish that other than I can look at the current appointments and try to balance it when I bring recommendations. Is that what we had in mind? I know there was some discussion. I went back and looked at the video and I don't think we are exactly following the guidance we provided.”

Board Chair Carre Brown: “I believe when we talked further about the committee that was my point. We needed to better define what we were doing and I was the only one voting no because that was not done.”

Supervisor John McCowen: “My recollection of the discussion is that we did talk about how we would ensure that the desired interest groups or specializations and diversity were achieved. I think one way to do that would be for us to consider all of the appointments in open session understanding that it is ultimately the supervisor's responsibility to decide on their three appointments which I am sure we would all honor. But discussing those all at once rather than bringing them forward in a piecemeal matter -- I think would be the best method to assure that we are meeting the interest groups and the diversity that we supported by adopting the resolution which incorporated by reference the document that was presented by the climate action startup group. We can certainly go forward with Supervisor Gjerde’s two appointments today but ideally we might bring the rest of them all back on the same agenda and I think that would be the best method for trying to achieve what Supervisor Williams indicated.”

Brown: “For the record, I'm opposed to what you're proposing.”

Gjerde: “I do appreciate the fact that Supervisor McCowen said he supports and Supervisor Williams said he supports the two appointments or nominees that I put forward. I think they are both very strong and will be positive additions to the committee. I'm currently seeking someone with a forestry background, a forestry manager who is actively sequestering carbon. [If all 15 members of the Advisory Committee could actively sequester carbon they might make a dent in the problem!]. The Redwood Forest Foundation is working with me to try to determine the right person. As you know they are sequestering carbon and I think that's an expertise and a partner that would be helpful for the committee.” 

(Note to applicants: Be sure to mention that you actively sequester carbon in your application.)

Brown: “That potentially is going to be one of my appointments. I did find someone with a lot of expertise in that area [a professional carbon sequesterer?] that I think would really add to the committee. I have not brought my appointments forward because I do want to conduct interviews but there is an individual that I am strongly looking at that has that expertise area too.”

Multiply this inanity to include officials at all levels of government and, well, better re-think that 30-year mortgage.

There was no motion made, nor any vote taken. The two carbon sequesterers who Gjerde nominated were Fort Bragg city development Director Marie Jones, well known to readers of Rex Gressett’s Fort Bragg coverage, and Michael Potts, of Caspar, a hotbed of "big thinkers" who has absolutely zero record of interest in County affairs. Marie Jones was an outspoken and loyal defender of former Fort Bragg city manager Linda Ruffing and a critic of what she called "divisiveness" at the time that Ms. Ruffing, ahem, "retired."

Which is to say both will be carbon-stomping over the hill to Ukiah to reduce the county's carbon footprint, already invisible in the global imprints of the forces busily killing off the planet.

Enough negativity!

In his application, Potts wrote: “Climate change, whether anthropogenic or naturally cyclical, has been a deep concern of mine for more than 30 years. As a Board Member at Real Goods, and its Chief Technical Officer, I was asked to write a book, The New Independent Home, about ‘living under our own power,’ in other words, with a very small carbon footprint. Denis Hayes, founder of Earth Day, describes me as ‘a visionary with dirt under his fingernails’ and an expert on self-reliance. As a founding member of Caspar Community’s Board, I learned the importance of consensus, the best means to generate it, and the ability of small communities like mine [Caspar] to develop resilience. Resilience in the face of inevitable and possibly catastrophic change – the incidence of large firestorms is an example – requires a level of awareness and readiness that is at the center of my work.I am eager to help my County integrate this awareness, readiness, and resilience into its everyday life.”

Uh, applying a loose class angle glance to the wealthy little enclave of Caspar whose collective carbon footprint is at least twice the size of the Circle Trailer Park, Ukiah, resilience would be much easier to achieve.

Marie Jones, Fort Bragg: “I am the Community Development Director for the City of Fort Bragg. I have prepared a greenhouse gas inventory and a Climate Action Plan for the City of Fort Bragg. [Has Fort Bragg implemented any of these plans? You’d think she’d have mentioned it if they had.] I am also very knowledgeable about climate adaptation strategies and the impact of climate change on natural communities, sea level rise, sea acidification, agriculture, water availability, etc. I welcome the opportunity to serve on this board.”

As is every other reasonably informed global resident.

Diversity? Do the math. Two well-heeled Coasties should be offset by the first people likely to suffer the effects of climate change: five random residents of an inland trailer park, two indigenous citizens of Covelo, five Mexican immigrants (unpapered), and ten residents of Fort Bragg and Ukiah homeless shelters. 

But seriously, the Climate Action Advisory Committee is shaping up as yet another collection of the usual suspects who will talk about good things and attempt to arrive at a "consensus" among people like themselves who can meet in the middle of a work day to talk nice thoughts and, like the many municipal advisory committees and the mental health advisory committee and the library advisory committee and the in-home services advisory committee and the health and human services advisory committee and the museum advisory committee and the resource advisory committee and the tourism advisory board and several others whose titles escape us at the moment, they will produce nothing — absolutely nothing — not even a single plausible recommendation. And even if they did, the board would say there’s no money in the budget or they are not of sufficient benefit, or are already doing something like it, not to mention the likely push back from the wine industry or the local timber industry or other farming activities if the committee managed to aim any recommendations at a Big Mendo Target. 

We fondly recall Mendo’s grading ordinance advisory committee from a few years back, which was charged with achieving consensus before submitting their recommendations to the supervisors. Because some of the committee members were dead set against any kind of grading ordinance which might affect grape growers in Mendocino County, most of the pro-ordinance advisors resigned after a year or two of getting nowhere and the rest were unable to achieve consensus, thus there were no recommendations for the board and no grading ordinance to this day (except the state buildling code), leaving Mendo as the only northern California county not to have even a modest ag-related grading ordinance.

(Little Harvey Havoc, the tech mogul recently in the news for re-arranging a sizable area of Laytonville's topography to accommodate his grape vines, maintains a large-scale vineyard on precipitous slopes at Nararro, which would not be permitted in any other area of the state.)

In more than 30 years of following County affairs we have yet to see one single specific recommendation from an advisory committee that was implemented by the Supervisors. Not One. We will happily take any bets any reader would like to make at 10-1 odds that the Supervisors will never implement a single recommendation from this jive committee of carbon sequesterers, if they even make any, and we will even put a generous deadline on the bet of December 2020. 

Any takers? 


  1. Lazarus August 14, 2019

    “In more than 30 years of following County affairs we have yet to see one single specific recommendation from an advisory committee that was implemented by the Supervisors.”

    Do you believe the Measure B committee aligns with this scenario also?
    Regardless it is a disturbing observation of county government, Mendo style.
    As always,

    • Mark Scaramella Post author | August 14, 2019

      Technically, no. Because the Measure B committee has made a couple of routine recommendations; the outreach van upgrade, the training facility, the RFP (I think), but those were no brainers. They have not made any substantive recommendations involving the primary (facilities) purpose of Measure B.
      The problem is in both directions, btw. On the one hand, why make recommendations that the Supes can’t or won’t implement? On the other hand the Supes never review their advisory committee reports with an eye for what they might be recommending, if anything.
      I believe the Behavioral Health Advisory Committee has made some general recommendations, but they are not what anyone would call “actionable.”
      I still await the day that an Advisory Board puts something like this in one of their reports:
      ‘We recommend (on an x/y vote) that the Board allocate $x to do y by z date based on the attached analysis (which could indicate not doing something else in their purview so that y could be funded).’
      The closest Mendo got to a solid recommendation was when the Library Advisory Board strongly recommended NOT consolidating with parks and museum. And that one the Board took great offense at and wouldn’t even accept as a “report,” even though all they had to do was ignore it like they do all the other reports and proceed with consolidation against the wishes of the advisory board (as they did).

      • Lazarus August 14, 2019

        “Measure B committee has made a couple of routine recommendations; the outreach van upgrade, the training facility, the RFP (I think), but those were no brainers.”

        True, but it took them nearly two years to do it.
        Thank you for the clarity.
        As always,

  2. Betsy Cawn August 15, 2019

    Lake County’s “grading ordinance” does NOTHING to protect groundwater from exploitation as a future source of subdividing ag-zoned land, scraped free of grasses and oak woodlands at hundred-acre clips, then piped with 8-inch distribution lines to delicately moisten the roots of grapevines, but justified by late winter “frost protection” — thus “ripening for development” the loftier rolling hills with splendid lake views or domesticating the poorly hydrologized “Big Valley” flatlands — which were plumbed in a major Public Works project in the late 90s and, in 2008, were described by former Supervisor Anthony Farrington as “all planned out” by a “consortium of developers.”

    Home owners in Hidden Valley Lake tried desperately to overturn a “ministerial” decision taken under the lovely loophole in the “grading ordinance” that allowed Wild Diamond Vineyards to expand their “agricultural operation” for a “tasting room” and extensive vineyard activities — including the use of uncontrolled groundwater supplies and the usual applications of killing chemicals, in proximity to health-impaired home occupants on the outer edges of the gated community.

    The Planning Department, in concert with the county Board of Supervisors, screwed the appellants out of fees that were double-charged and never returned, as the final twist of the knife in their backs, after entertaining the excruciating but futile appeal by the group calling itself the “” — with valiant support from Napa Valley opponents of expanded tourism into northern valley ag territories.

    The “ministerial” authority of the Community Development (nee Planning) director is granted in the Lake County Zoning Ordinance Article 64, which is entitled “Environmental Protection” — and contains this overarching authority:

    “64.2 Environmental protection guidelines: The Board of Supervisors shall by resolution adopt
    Environmental Protection Guidelines which shall establish the procedures to be followed in
    making environmental considerations for all projects subject to County jurisdiction.”

    Said “Guidelines” contain an arcane step-by-step instruction to planners for their processing of “initial study” evaluations of major use permit applications, based on a reservoir of boilerplate documents that are referenced in the planner’s determination of impacts, as well as sometimes faulty reports that are referenced in the IS table, but not reviewed as part of the “whole record” (CEQA §15074(b)) and requiring no “mitigation monitoring and reporting plan” (CEQA §15074(d)).

    Massive subdivisions such as the Clearlake Rivieras — over 3,000 parcels each of which is on a separate SEPTIC system — or the “Chapman Tract” (a.k.a., the “Avenues” in the uplands of the City of Clearlake and, for that matter, the unmanageable 49 miles of unpaved roads within the central populated area of that city that the County allowed before the Local Agency Formation Commission collaborated with the County Supervisors to form the municipality based on a fictional fiscal analysis that we later “disappeared” from all records.

    So, sure, we have a “grading ordinance,” just as we have a “groundwater management ordinance” — that governs ONLY the “removal and transport” of Lake County groundwater supplies to territory outside the county jurisdiction. The “groundwater management ordinance” makes no mention of unrestricted agricultural operations and their domination of large-scale groundwater basin usage in projects that are clearly intended to establish the available quantity needed for future households and lucrative property taxes the county desperately craves, like the junkies lining the transportation corridors and tweakers crapping in the urban creeks.

    So much for environmental “protection.”

    • James Marmon August 15, 2019


      There’s a Congressional Wine Caucus. And it does a lot more than drink

      “WASHINGTON — It’s said that everything goes better with wine — even legislating in the halls of Congress.

      That’s the theory, in part, behind the Congressional Wine Caucus. In its 20th year, the under-the-radar, bipartisan coalition of lawmakers works in Washington to promote and address the needs of the wine industry. And, yes, they also drink a little on occasion.

      Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, started the caucus shortly after he arrived in Congress in 1999. The Wine Country congressman is a grape grower himself, and he partnered with wine producer and then-Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, to build the caucus. It grew to more than 300 members at one point in both chambers of Congress. It has since shrunk to just over 115 with time, retirements and seat changes, but Thompson is hoping to replenish its ranks this term.”

    • James Marmon August 15, 2019

      “…or the “Chapman Tract” (a.k.a., the “Avenues” in the uplands of the City of Clearlake and, for that matter, the unmanageable 49 miles of unpaved roads within the central populated area of that city…”

      Betsy, with the passage of Measure V, Clearlake’s Road Tax, and the hiring of Alan “the kid” Flora as City Manager, our unpaved roads have become manageable. The expanded City Road Crew are grading those streets daily, people are really pleased with the progress. Furthermore, Alan has convinced the City Council to allow the crew to double chip seal several blocks of gravel roads in the Avenues as a pilot project to reduce maintenance. The City had a large stockpile of ground asphalt at the Airport property. They are adding a layer of that ground up asphalt on the streets and it compacts well.

      You’re always complaining about what has happened in the past in Lake County and you ignore the future. Crews have already started undergrounding the power lines on the hwy 29 corridor between Lower Lake and Lakeport in preparation for the new 4 lane highway. Granite Construction got the contract for the culverts and have already started prepping them.

      4-lane construction on HWY 29 to begin 2019

      “LAKE COUNTY >> A $65 million project that is the first third of a $195 million plan to turn eight miles of Highway 29 into a four-lane expressway from its current two-lane status has been funded from federal, state and county sources and is set to begin construction in the summer of 2019. CalTrans District 1 Public Information Officer Cori Reed said that the project is “ready to lift, meaning that bidding will begin in January 2019.””

      I know how mad you are about the 4 lane between Lakeport and Upper lake so I thought I would share.

      Your’s Truly

  3. Bruce McEwen August 19, 2019

    A great big shout out of gratitude from their majesties, Prince and Princess Posterity, to the Mendocino County Board Of Supervisors and their thoughtful matron, the Illustrious Carmel Angelo, for saving the only known habitable planet in the universe from catastrophic climate change in the form of global warming: Thank you so very much! And now, you can all go on with your vacation plans, fly around the world in jet airliners, cruise the national parks in your motor homes, or just stay at home and drive your cars up and down the freeways and byways with a guilt-free conscience! Again, thank you all so very, very much for you timely and considerate action!

  4. John Sakowicz August 19, 2019

    I’m betting that Mendo’s Climate Diversity Committee won’t even achieve carbon-neutrality.

    They’ll find a way to achieve net positive carbon dioxide emissions by all their county-wide meetings and driving around and such.

    And that’s no even counting the clouds methane from all their bloviating and pontificating.

    God, I love Mendocino County!

    Home of The Self-Righteous. Land of the PC Thought Police.

  5. izzy August 20, 2019

    The machinations of county government are inevitably distressing in their familiarity.
    Perhaps speaking in plain english might help clear things up.

    • James Marmon August 20, 2019

      familiarity breeds contempt, Camille Schraeder comes to mind. The BoS would never think about offending the homeless/mental health/foster care/adoptions queen by asking one question, “where’s the money Camille? She would stick it to the County in an instant. She knows too much, she owns the county.


      • James Marmon August 20, 2019

        Jeffery Epstein also comes to mind.

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