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Off The Record

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT'S front page Monday featured a gold-tinged photo of Osama that at first glance looked like a roadside Mexican shrine to the Saint of Guadalupe. The eerily reverent photo was accompanied by the inevitable deluge of straight-up prose lies and falsified history that the corporate media specialize in. Worst, though, was a piece called North Coast Lawmakers React to Bin Laden's Death, as if we need to hear from our cretinous Congressman, who of course just had to say, “You'd like to think that for the last ten years, he had been suffering, living in a cave somewhere, after all the terror he's brought about in the world. The important thing is that he's gone. Our intelligence community (sic) did an outstanding job. It had to be done with certainty. It's great news for America and it's great news for the world.” Completely off as usual, Congressman.

IF WE CONTINUE to wipe out whole families of non-combatants on a daily basis in Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Libya, not to mention our auto-support for plucky little Israel's war to extinction on the Palestinians, you think this guy's death means an end to fanatics flying airliners into our highrises? Our great grandchildren will be fending off the Mohammedans because we're making more fanatics every day.

SO, I WONDERED, if we get a statement from Congressman Wine Guy on bagging Osama, where's Wes, Wes Chesbro, professional officeholder now functioning as our assemblyperson? I wrote to an insider guy to ask, “Can you get Wes Chesbro's statement on Osama's death? He's the only elected person we haven't heard from.” Insider guy immediately wrote back: “Assemblyman Chesbro, in a voice choking with the emotion he summons for those occasions requiring false sentiment, said Monday that 'he was deeply saddened by the sudden death of Mr. Bin Ladle, but at least he got to see the Royal Wedding before our guys shot him.'“

THAT SOFTWARE maintenance bill of some $350k that CEO Carmel Angelo said last month might have to be taken from the already wayyyyyyyyyy over-obligated General Fund, is no longer a problem. Apparently, the fuss was more about financial confusion than unpaid bills — as usual. Sheriff Allman now says, “Nothing has changed. There will be no money from the general fund. There was confusion about where money comes from. I can put to rest the rumor about not affording software maintenance.”

FROM THE AVA of October 30, 1996 by ace Supes reporter Jim Shields: “On another 4-1 tally, [then 5th District Supervisor Charles] Peterson once again was the odd man out. The Supes were requested by the local Community Development Commission (CDC) to give the green light on an application for a $1 million grant to build a 33-unit senior housing project in Gualala. The grant is to be processed through the California State Department of Housing and Community Development but as with most government funding nowadays, the Feds and private enterprise are also involved. The whole grant field is one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy. The grant industry is home to an array of professionals who carve out very comfortable livings for themselves, albeit mostly with the public’s money: grant procurers, grant writers, grant consultants, grant workshop mentors, intergovernmental-private sector grant-facilitators, etc. Any grants pegged for construction in the public sector typically involve developers and real estate interests. A close-to-home illustration is the new County Social Services building going up on Fort Bragg. Assuming there’s a need for the edifice, Mendocino County could build it from the ground up for the same price the developer is, approximately $2 million. Instead, because of quirky governmental social services funding regs (read as the real estate and developer lobbies wrote the law), the County receives money for leasing such buildings but not for owning them. So, what happens is the County signs a 20-year lease with the developer, Dominic Affinito, and pays him $16,423 per month for the first year. One year after the lease starts and, in each subsequent year thereafter, the rental payment increases by 3.5%. By the time the 20 years are up, the County will have paid Affinito approximately $5 million for a $2 million building. When the Supes approved the transaction this summer, Pinches called it “a great deal if you’re a developer, but a lousy one for the taxpayers — they’re getting ripped off.”

ACCORDING to an informative report on the never-happen Willits bypass by Linda Williams in the Willits News last week, “The Highway 101 two-lane bypass around Willits is now estimated to cost $260.5 million, with the actual construction contract for the two-lane highway representing $138 million of the total. CalTrans has already sunk $63.4 million into bypass design, development and right-of-way purchases since 1998. In the last four years CalTrans has purchased the right-of-way corridor for $9 million, and bought another $13 million of mitigation property. The rest of the mitigation property is expected to cost an additional $3 million.”

THAT’S $63.4 million of local highway funds that could have been spent repairing and upgrading our existing roadways rather than squandered on land acquisition for a highway project that will 1. Never be funded, and 2. sink eternally into the loose soil that Caltrans plans to build it on in Little Lake Valley, thus becoming a perpetual repair project comparable to the 40-year (and counting) repair of the Willits Grade.

SUPERVISOR HAMBURG'S gentle rejection of The Major's application for the 5th District seat on the County's Civil Service Commission, a seat occupied by a Willits woman appointed from out of his own District by Lord Colfax, did not cause The Major to quit trying. He now finds himself on the County’s Redistricting Committee tasked with realigning Supe's districts. The committee was supposed to be made up of 10 volunteers selected at random, two from each of the five Supervisorial districts. But no one from John Pinches’ Third District applied so the committee has eight people on it, two from Ukiah, two from Potter Valley, two from Fort Bragg, one from Hopland and one from Boonville. Due to the concentration of the County’s approximately 88,000 people (not counting the many hundreds undoubtedly missed in the half-baked Census), around Ukiah, Supervisor McCowen’s 2nd District is a relative postage stamp of downtown Ukiah. Supervisor Carre Brown’s 1st District is the smallest of the other four covering Potter Valley, Calpella and Redwood Valley while the Fourth District runs from Caspar north up the Coast to the Humboldt County line and in to western Willits. The Third District (Pinches) and the Fifth District (Hamburg) are by far the largest districts, with the Fifth making up almost the entire southern half of the County and the Third most of the Northern half. At first glance it would appear that an equable redistricting of 20% of the population assigned to each of the five districts, or about 17,600 persons each, will require that Districts 1, 2 and 3 be reduced by a few hundred persons. District 4 needs to be enlarged by a few hundred and District 5 needs to be enlarged by around 1500.

DISTRICT 5 is already huge in area, so beating the bushes for 1500 more people as the 5th is presently configured could be interesting. There are fair ways to do it but the committee's recommendations will be left to the Board of Supervisors to decide. County Counsel Jeanine Nadel explained that although the Committee was expected to travel to various outlying areas to take public input, of which there is unlikely to be much, there would be no travel compensation. But Nadel said she’d ask the fully-reimbursed Supervisors if they wanted to compensate the redistricting volunteers. The Major is not expecting the Supervisors to buy fuel for his battered Prius hybrid.

THE MAJOR also looked at other Coastal counties to see if their district maps could offer any different ideas for handling the inland-coastal representation question. Nothing particularly interesting because in each case the major cities in other California coastal counties had to be heavily accounted for. However, while looking at counties in Washington State, The Major discovered that Washington gets along just fine with three districts and three supervisors per county. So The Major brought up that budget balancing suggestion at the first redistricting committee meeting, only to be told that Government Code (i.e., the state constitution) requires five. Too bad the law requires us to waste money on two extra supervisors (LA County with millions of people has eleven supervisors; why do we need five?) We could save 40% of the $600k-plus Board Budget by eliminating two Supervisors — and we’ll let you decide which two they should be!

WHEN they went around the room for each redistricting volunteer to explain his or her interest in the project, most said they wanted to see that the process is politically neutral, not done by the Supervisors. The Major said he “wanted to see if the rumor that the Fifth District was designed to punish Norman de Vall was true.” Almost in unison, Maribelle Anderson of Fort Bragg and County Counsel Jeanine Nadel replied, “I think Norm de Vall started that rumor.”

CAN’T STOP THE BEAT: The Life and Words of a Beat Poet is the latest work of Albion's ruth weiss. A seminal beatnik, the long-time County resident has been rightly described as “one of the most brilliant voices of the American Counter-Culture Movement. While men took the spotlight, it was women like ruth weiss who would breathe feminine spirit into the fight for equality between the sexes, the races, and the classes. Celebrated in Europe and under-acknowledged in the US, during the course of her life ruth weiss innovated poetry with jazz in the San Francisco North Beach scene of the 1950s with contemporaries Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Bob Kaufman, and the other artists associated with the North Beach of the 1950's and early 1960's.” Demand that your local bookstore get this book!

IT COULD HAPPEN HERE! Oklahoma's state senate has voted 44-2 to make the manufacture of homegrown hashish a life prison sentence. The bill was requested by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, which says that although the state has seen only a few cases of hash manufacturing the bill would “send a message” that illegal drugs will not be tolerated in Oklahoma, as state believed to contain more tweekers per capita than any state in the country. Conviction of a first offense for cooking hashish would result in a prison sentence from two years to life and doubled under a second offense, with those convicted not be eligible for a suspended sentence or probation.

SHERIFF TOM ALLMAN is not alone in facing severe budget cutbacks. Humboldt County’s Hank Sims posted the following item on his Lost Coast Outpost blog on Monday: “In a letter sent to [HumCo] Supervisor Ryan Sundberg last Friday (and obtained by the Lost Coast Outpost this morning), Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey says that the $3.5 million in cuts being imposed on the Sheriff’s Office will require: Complete closure of the Sheriff’s substations in McKinleyville and Garberville. Layoffs of 19 deputies, as well as leaving 11 vacant deputy positions unfilled. Five layoffs at the animal control shelter, including the shelter’s program manager. And layoffs at the Office of Emergency Services, reducing that department’s full-time staff to one person. ‘In short law enforcement services to much of the county will become non-existent,’ Downey writes, adding that by his calculations, the sheriff’s office is expected to absorb 30 of the total of 41 layoffs foreseen in county government.”

MANBEATER OF THE WEEK: Ms. Leigh Restel, 32, Ukiah. She's 5'7” and 121 pounds. This one's a wobbler. From Ms. Restel's perfectly composed mugshot one would not suspect that she allegedly “punched, slapped and brandished a 6-inch kitchen knife” at Robert Cassells as she threatened to cut his balls off.

As victim Cassells was leaving the residence, suspect Restel bit him on his lower leg and on both arms, leaving reddish bite marks on him.” Yeah, ok, but what did he do to set her off? And Cassells “refused medical treatment for his injuries at the scene.” Not guilty, your honor.

WILL PARISH WRITES: “For posterity, I want to note a handful of corrections from the three-part series I've just completed on Doug Bosco's crony capitalism and environmental pillaging. In part 1, ‘Bosco: The Curse That Keeps on Giving,’ Darlene Comingore was mis-labeled as ‘Diane’ Comingore. I mis-spelled reporter Mary Fricker's last name as ‘Prickner.’ In part 2, I wrote that Bosco’s wife Gayle Guynup had invested her inheritance in a shopping center in Mississippi. Actually, that shopping center has been a family asset since prior to her father's death. In part 3, ‘Doug Bosco and His Phantom Railroad,’ I spelled Efren Carillo's last name ‘Carillo’ a couple of times. Representatives of Skip Berg's company Berg Holdings gave $22,500, not $23,500, to Carrillo's campaign for supervisor in its final weeks. Bernie Meyers' op-ed appeared in the Marin Independent Journal, not the ‘Marin Voice’; the Marin Voice is a regular section of the Marin Independent Journal. Last, it was mentioned that Premier Pacific Vineyards (PPV) is run by William Hill. He is actually the co-chairman with Richard Wollack, a Bay Area real estate mogul, as I've noted numerous times before in the AVA when discussing PPV.”

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