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MCT: Saturday, September 28, 2019

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MUCH COOLER CONDITIONS will begin this weekend as a cold upper-level storm system drops south across the western United States. This will bring a few rain and high elevation snow showers over the weekend, mainly in the north. Freezing overnight temperatures will be possible across wind sheltered valleys by Sunday morning. (National Weather Service)

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THE UNJUST PROSECUTION OF TAI ABREU begins anew with pre-trial briefs on December 13th. Then, on January 6th into January 7th, Abreu's second trial begins with a presentation of the non-case against him. DA Eyster thinks he has hard evidence that Abreu somehow bears sole responsibility for the murder of Donald Perez. There's no evidence, beyond garbled accounts of the unlikely event, that there even was a murder, but one of the alleged killers, Aaron Channel, is already out of prison, and the second, August Stuckey, must satisfy a parole board that he isn't dangerously crazy before he gets out. But he will get out at some point, and he will return to Fort Bragg with a whole new gender courtesy of California taxpayers. If Perez was murdered, Stuckey is the most likely candidate as his killer of the three. I doubt Eyster will dare call either Channel or Stuckey as witnesses.

BACKGROUND LINKS

The whole story: theava.com/05/1221-perezcase.html

A shorter version: counterpunch.org/2004/05/29/is-l-wop-truly-forever-the-awful-injustice-to-tai-abreu/

Another shorter version (scroll down for the items on Tai Abreu): theava.com/04/0526-otr-tai-abreu.html

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JOHN REDDING of Fort Bragg (Member of Coast Hospital Board):

Here is an insight into our hospital's finances. Over the last three years, Net Operating Revenues have not changed. But the payor mix has changed dramatically, as the chart shows. There has been a significant shift from private insurance and self-pay to Medicare and Medical. And people who just simply cannot afford to pay their bills. As a result our Bad Debt and Charity has increased to $2M a year. For perspective, in 2016 these totaled about $500,000. As we know, the health care industry has undergone significant changes in recent years and these changes have adversely affected our hospital's finances. John Redding, Treasurer, MCDH

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PETER ALLEGAERT isn't simply one more talented Mendo painter, he's the only one I know of to render the county's perpetually imperiled beauty not only as it is but he does it with humor and bite. I treasure the prints of his work that I have. I remember when the artist and his wife lived near Elk, and as I dimly recall, Mrs. Allegaert was also a talented artist. And they departed, and again I'm drawing on dim memories here, for a place whose destruction hadn't achieved the warp speed of Mendo's. I think the last Mendo straw for the Allegaerts may have been an infamous clearcut next door to their place on Cameron Road, but whatever the last straw was it had already been reflected in the artist's work, the only honest depiction of Mendo at a time when art that said something was drowned in seascapes and surfboarding chipmunks. Suddenly up pops Allegaert's granddaughter informing his many Mendo admirers that not only is the artist alive and well and still painting, he is selling prints of some of his work out of his website at www.peterallegaert.com. All true sons and daughters of Mendocino County should own an Allegaert, as should anyone who appreciates art that says something real.

The Collision
Goodbye Greenwood

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MEASURE B COMMITTEE’S NEW PRIORITIES

by Mark Scaramella

Judging by the amount of time spent at last Wednesday’s Measure B Mental Health Oversight and Advisory Committee meeting, the most important things they have to deal with are: remodeling an old Redwood Valley house into a training center and buying a new sound system for the Committee.

They’re still working on hiring a project manager; CEO Carmel Angelo said they might have their $85k-plus-benefits project manager in place by November. Maybe. Depends on whether they have to give notice to their current job or not. The last two people they offered the job to declined for more money or a better paying job.

The County has received four bidders for Architectural services for evaluating existing sites and perhaps someday designing three or more mental health facilities. So far, besides the occasional reference to a generic “16-bed” Psychiatric Health Facility, nobody has any idea what facilities they need for what services.

Fort Bragg Committee rep Mark Myrtle suggested that the Committee recommend to the Supervisors that the County issue some kind of vague request for companies or non-profits that might be interested in providing services in whatever building(s) they may end up constructing — “other than County staff,” Myrtle added without explaning why County staff couldn’t do it. Never mind that at the rate the Committee is moving, any outfit that expresses interest now would probably be out of business by the time any Measure B facilities are ready for occupancy.

Several committee members wondered what kinds of services the County now provides and what kinds of additional services such a request would include. After two years of meetings, they still don’t know. Mental Health Director Jenine Miller said the County basically only provides “reimburseable” services, meaning only for “severely mentally ill.” What “services” would be provided for “mild to moderately mentally ill” in the new Crisis Residential and Crisis Stabilization “units” continues to be a mystery to everyone involved.

Director Miller said that 50-60% of the money spent on Mental Health services now is reimburseable, paid out of pocket from County funds, then reimbursed by federal money. The rest is state grants and Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63) money. “You have to provide it first then apply for reimbursement,” said Dr. Miller. “We serve the most severely mentally ill, but not mild to moderate. We don’t have any data on mild to moderate mental health service needs.” So other than initial crisis screening to see who’s really “severely mentally ill,” about 65% of the people they contact get no Mental Health Services now, despite the more than $25 million a year that goes for those Services.

Committee Chair Ace Barash mentioned in passing that the Committee should consider buying “the Affinito building” in Fort Bragg for services on the Coast. That would be the old Social Services Admin building down near the Ten Mile Courthouse that the County abandoned years ago because Affinito was charging over $25k per month and the County had paid for the building several times over in rent by the time they moved out and over into the Avila Center where the Fort Bragg Social Services are now. To use Measure B money to “buy” it now would be another windfull for Affinito.

Nobody picked up on the idea, however.

Committee member (and City of Ukiah staffer/member) Shannon Riley suggested the Committee consider recommending that an audit of existing Mental Health services be conducted.

Guess how far that went?

Various members bemoaned the near collapse of the highly praised Mobile Outreach and Prevention Services (MOPS) Van program which has contracted to just two vans with only one person in each, even though five are funded with two people each. Sheriff Tom Allman attributed the reduction to the retirement of the lead MOPS woman and someone else attributed it to the premature and unexplained “retirement” of (former) Human Resources Director Heidi Dunham. Other than Sheriff Allman’s casual observation that “We need to get it back on line. The money’s not going anywhere,” nobody suggested actually doing anything about the problem.

In a related non-action, nobody mentioned the Crisis Van idea proposed by Ukiah Police Chief Justin Wyatt at last month’s meeting, even though everyone was very positive about it at the time and said they needed to look into it and get a presentation on it. Looks like that idea, one of the few productive and genuinely helpful and definable services that has come up so far, has been tossed on the trash heap again.

The rest of the more than two hours of meeting time was spent on ridiculously detailed discussions of what kinds and extent of remodels would be done on the old Jehovah’s witness church building to convert it into a training center. Apparently they’re going to recommend that the Supes allocate around $250k to the remodel.

They also spent almost half an hour discussing whether to buy a fancy portable wireless sound system for their future meetings. In the end they voted 7-2 (two members were absent, two dissented saying they could share the system that the Behavorial Health Board uses) to spend $35k of Measure B money on the Committee’s new sound system because it’s really, really important that everyone who attends the Committee meetings cleary hears about all the great things they’re not doing.

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LINDY'S CV

For anyone who may have interest in the various jobs I have had outside of politics, here is some of my workforce experience that has helped shape my world view. Let’s start at the beginning:

Davis, Ca.

Hand-picked tomatoes at age 11 (you read that right) along side braceros for 8 cents a crate in temperatures over 100 degrees. Made 96 cents my first day. Rode to work in the fields on a flatbed truck.

Sf Chronicle paper route at age 12.

Davis Rec. District I was refereeing youth (9-12) football, basketball and baseball at age 14.

Stacking crates of Apricots at Tuft’s Ranch outside of Winters, Ca. at age 16. First real money!

Hoed sugar beets in Dixon at age 16.

Hunt Wesson Cannery: Worked every summer to earn money for college 1971-1975. Teamster Union job. Promoted every summer. Rose from stacking boxes to Jr. Industrial Engineer.

Intern for Congressman Bob Leggett at 21. Summer of 1974.

Server at Nick’s Fishmarket in Lahaina, Maui from 1975-1976. Began as busboy and was promoted. Union job.

Drove truck for Spreckles Sugar 1977 in Dixon. Union job.

Airport Marina Hotel in Burlingame 1977-78. Started as desk clerk. Promoted to Assistant Banquet Manager within 6 months. Union job.

Airport Sheraton 1978-1979. Bell Captain. Union job.

KCSM San Mateo 1980-May 1981. Sports Director.

KDAC Fort Bragg 1981-1983. Morning man and voice of Timberwolves football and basketball play-by-play.

Purity Super Market 1983. Bagged groceries and stocked shelves to augment radio income.

KMFB-Skunk radio 1983-2015. Worked for 5 different owners over 32 years on-air.

Retired

Roundman’s smokehouse 2015-2018. Part time truck driver. (Got bored!)

Little River Inn Pro Shop 2016-present.

I have never been fired from any job I have ever held. I learned the meaning of responsibility and hard work at an early age and have always got along well with my co-workers. I thank my father for my work ethic. He never just gave me money. I had to help with chores to earn it.

I know the value of a strong work ethic. The entire 4th District will be my job site. If given a chance, I hope to serve you well.

(Lindy Peters, Candidate, Fourth District Supervisor)

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UKIAH’S CRAZY IDEA

To the Editor:

How dare the City Council consider this silly copycat project to make Ukiah like Cloverdale by narrowing State Street, an important artery to commerce in Ukiah. It is like Santa Rosa, city of strange traffic planning, who closed off Santa Rosa/Mendocino Avenue for a park and created chaos for us drivers trying to get uptown. Ukiah has a mandate and responsibility to follow through on the tax burden they put on shoppers in their town to improve roads. When it was imposed we thought, “Great, they’ll fix the roads!” No, the City Council comes up with a hair brain idea. Road projects stalled.

Frankly, I think that we citizens should sue the city for falsely setting up the extra sales tax and not doing what they said they would do. Maybe the Attorney General should act. Fix the darn roads! It is so overdue, it is absurd.

Instead, they want to put utilities underground on Gobbi. Should we wait until they do that? No way, fix the roads. Other cities have done innovative things like put the utilities under removable sidewalks, so they can be readily serviced when upgrades or failures occur, without tearing up the road and creating lots of traffic issues. Put a signal on South Main and Gobbi. Bush Street has become an important cross town road and yet it slowly devolves into pot holes and bumps. Maybe it is memory loss? Let me assist, it is clear folks, it is time to fix the roads. Do your job, follow through, fix the roads.

Greg Krouse

Philo

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FROM SUPERVISOR TED WILLIAMS:

Board of Supervisors, October 1, 2019

Discussion and Possible Action Including Requesting the Treasurer Tax-Collector to Include High Speed Internet and Cell Coverage Checkbox Survey on the Next Property Tax Bills and County GIS to Plot Results on Map

(Sponsor: Supervisor Williams)

Recommended Action/Motion:

Request Tax Collector include High Speed Internet and Cell Coverage checkbox survey on next property tax bills and County GIS to plot results on map.

Summary of Request:

Accurate mapping of Internet service areas continues to block high speed Internet coverage efforts. A survey on property tax bills with two questions would greatly assist the effort at a near zero cost to County. Recommended questions include checkboxes “Property Lacks High Speed Internet” and “Property lacks cell phone coverage”.

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LIBRARY LINES

Summer has sped by and it is time to reopen the A.V. Library. We will be open on Tuesday October 8th from 1-4 p.m. Saturday hours are 12:30-2:30. So round up all the books you checked out, and bring them back. We have purchased a number of new books by our favorite authors and few new authors to get familiar with. Look forward to seeing everyone.

— Liz Dusenberry

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CATCH OF THE DAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2019

Ayala-Ortiz, Bodison, Cape

LUIS AYALA-ORTIZ, Ukiah. Probation revocation.

MAULANA BODISON, Annapolis/Manchester. False personation of another, stolen property, failure to appear, probation revocation.

ANTHONY CAPE, Willits. Failure to appear, probation revocation.

Davis, Dixon, Garcia

MARCUS DAVIS, Oakland/Ukiah. Failure to appear.

TYLER DIXON, Sebastopol/Gualala. Domestic battery.

JOE GARCIA, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

Hagen, Joaquin, Johnson

AIMEE HAGEN, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.

FERNANDO JOAQUIN, Covelo. Parole violation.

TAVION JOHNSON, Willits. Battery, domestic battery, disorderly conduct-alcohol intoxication, resisting, probation revocation.

Magistrelli, Mardesich, Owens

STEPHEN MAGISTRELLI, Willits. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation.

MICEL MARDESICH, Willits. Pot cultivation/process, resisting, probation revocation.

WILLIAM OWENS, Ukiah. Contempt of court, failure to appear, probation revocation.

Reynaga, Ruiz, Sanchez

PEDRO REYNAGA, Calpella. Controlled substance, probation revocation.

SHANKARI RUIZ, Willits. Controlled substance.

SAMUEL SANCHEZ, Ukiah. Parole violation. (Frequent Flyer)

Suba, Taylor, Winelander

KRISTOFF SUBA, Laytonville. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, failure to appear, resisting, probation revocation.

CALVIN TAYLOR II, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (2x)

HARRY WINELANDER, Willits. Under influence, probation revocation.

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A DUMPSTER FIRE ON A GARBAGE BARGE

by James Kunstler

UkraineGate, son of RussiaGate, raises an interesting question: is our Central Intelligence Agency really this crude that they would loan out a CIA officer to the White House’s National Security Council (NSC) and use him as a weapon to shiv the occupant of the oval office? Or was The New York Times’s unmasking of the “whistleblower” just another ruse by the Deep State Disinfo Division?

Let’s face it, there were not so many CIA spooks working in that White House office, so it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out who it was. A leading candidate is veteran CIA officer Michael Barry, an assassination expert, as it happens, who was loaned out during Mike Pompeo’s brief stint as CIA chief. Barry acted as the NSC’s chief intelligence officer. Barry or otherwise, I predict the whistleblower’s identity will be known for sure in pretty short order.

So much material in this tale doesn’t add up that it looks like the results of a math test in a Baltimore middle school. For one thing, the now public whistleblower complaint makes it clear that the whistleblower’s information is second-hand. The Intel Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA) explicitly prohibits complaints based on second-hand news: “In order to find an urgent concern credible, the IGIC [Intel Community Inspector General] must be in possession of reliable, first-hand information. The IGIC cannot transmit information via the ICWPA based on an employee’s second-knowledge of wrongdoing. This includes information received from another person, such as when a fellow employee informs you that he/she has witnessed some type of wrongdoing.” See for yourself in the ICWPA Form 401:

Did Director of National Intelligence Joseph McGuire know that when he testified that the whistleblower’s complaint was “credible” and made in “good faith.” Did ICIG Michael Horowitz know that when he sent the whistleblower complaint to Admiral McGuire? Did House Intel Committee Chair Adam Schiff know that when he led a grandstanding exercise in his committee on Thursday?

Others have pointed out that the whistleblower’s complaint was composed as a legal brief, leading to the inference that it was constructed by lawyers and perhaps a team of lawyers. The whistleblower’s lawyer is Andrew Bakaj, a former CIA employee who got his start interning for Senator Chuck Schumer and then Hillary Clinton. The Washingtonian said Bakaj “actually wrote the CIA’s internal rules on whistleblowing.” Is that so? Did he write Form 401 then? His client’s complaint states: “I was not a direct witness to most of the events described. However, I found my colleagues’ accounts of these events to be credible because, in almost all cases, multiple officials recounted fact patterns that were consistent with one another.” In other words, second-hand information. Dismissed.

Everyone and his uncle remembers the infamous threat issued to Mr. Trump by Senator Schumer during the transition period in January, 2017: “Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Perhaps Senator Schumer should have kept his pie-hole shut on that. He made it official that the Intel Community would act as an adversary and antagonist to the President, and that appears to be exactly what has happened. One suspects that this rogue agency has captured The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, and several TV cable news networks as well. And now they are metamorphosing into an enemy of the people.

The moment approaches when Mr. Trump will have to carry out a severe housecleaning of the CIA and perhaps many other agencies under the executive branch of the government. Their ongoing campaign to undo the 2016 election is igniting a civil war. Clearly a part of the whistleblower gambit was an attempt to discredit Attorney General William Barr and set up a device that would force him to recuse himself from any further inquiry into shenanigans carried out in and around Ukraine since 2014, when the CIA and the Obama State Department overthrew the government of Viktor Yanukovych. Mr. Barr is a sturdy fellow. He may have seven ways from Sunday for countering their seditious monkeyshines. Wait for it.

In the meantime, is there any question that UkraineGate has put the schnitz on Joe Biden’s political career? The notorious video of Mr. Biden bragging on his shakedown of then-president Poroshenko has been seen by everybody over age five in the USA. Hillary must be lovin’ it as she makes the rounds on her latest listening tour. Listen to this, Hillary, lost in your wicked daydreams of riding to the Democratic Party’s rescue for yet another shot at the White House: your reputation will never survive the blizzard of indictments coming down on your partisans. And one of these bills might have your name on it.

(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)

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THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION did not rise, prima facie, like Venus on a half shell from the sea. Donald Trump is the result of a long process of political, cultural and social decay. He is a product of our failed democracy. The longer we perpetuate the fiction that we live in a functioning democracy, that Trump and the political mutations around him are somehow an aberrant deviation that can be vanquished in the next election, the more we will hurtle toward tyranny. The problem is not Trump. It is a political system, dominated by corporate power and the mandarins of the two major political parties, in which we don’t count. We will wrest back political control by dismantling the corporate state, and this means massive and sustained civil disobedience, like that demonstrated by teachers around the country this year. If we do not stand up we will enter a new dark age.

The Democratic Party, which helped build our system of inverted totalitarianism, is once again held up by many on the left as the savior. Yet the party steadfastly refuses to address the social inequality that led to the election of Trump and the insurgency by Bernie Sanders. It is deaf, dumb and blind to the very real economic suffering that plagues over half the country. It will not fight to pay workers a living wage. It will not defy the pharmaceutical and insurance industries to provide Medicare for all. It will not curb the voracious appetite of the military that is disemboweling the country and promoting the prosecution of futile and costly foreign wars. It will not restore our lost civil liberties, including the right to privacy, freedom from government surveillance, and due process. It will not get corporate and dark money out of politics. It will not demilitarize our police and reform a prison system that has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners although the United States has only 5 percent of the world’s population. It plays to the margins, especially in election seasons, refusing to address substantive political and social problems and instead focusing on narrow cultural issues like gay rights, abortion and gun control in our peculiar species of anti-politics.

— Chris Hedges

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

I think that Chris Hedges is pretty much right that the United States is now of the oligarchs, by the oligarchs, for the oligarchs. But this ruling class can’t rule without the willing acquiescence of a substantial cohort of useful idiots and so you have that too.

It appears to me that the intel community, or at least the upper echelons of it, are pretty much with the movement to get rid of Trump.

But about the generals? When they get beyond deploring Trump and bemoaning his crudities and uninformed amateurism, do the generals (or colonels) say it’s not just Trump, enough is enough, that civilian rule is hopelessly dysfunctional, that the prevailing ways can no longer prevail?

Way back, we used to muse about a cabal of military chiefs sending armed emissaries to escort civilian officials off the premises. But in East vs West Cold War days it always looked like military paranoia about a communist infiltration, or a soft-on-communism presidential administration, would impel a military coup. I wonder now what the boys in the Pentagon are thinking. Are they all-in on the eviction of Trump from the White House?

Or are there factions looking on with dismay at what an up-ending of the 2016 election would portend for the constitutional order? Never mind the constitutional order, what of the societal landscape that takes shape after such a momentous event? Do military thinkers nowadays think about more than strictly military strategy and tactics? What do the rank-and-file think? And by that I mean guys below the rank of general.

Hedges is right, and I’ve been saying the same thing, that the American citizenry is heavily armed, and given dire insults inflicted on the economic interests of such large numbers of ordinary people, and now the possible removal of a president who told them he’d have their backs, how that figures into the calculations of higher officialdom in the armed services?

It’s not just that civilians are armed to the teeth, there exists large numbers of veterans and so a lot of people with training in leadership and followership, and experience in combat zones.

That the intel community dismissed such considerations wouldn’t surprise me one bit, but what about the military?

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

Well, after the Biden family’s deals with Ukrainian energy companies are thoroughly scrutinized, investigations must be launched into their profitable links with Chinese Security Services. That’s where the Big Money was.

And I’m not being critical of Joe Biden’s sons; they appear to have been pretty good guys. I’ve known people like them in my life, the sense of entitlement that comes from having a wealthy and successful father. Sure they did a lot of blow, so what? That takes cash. What, you think Joe Biden is the only Pol in DC who leveraged his position to help out his kids? It at least goes back to President Grant, who saw that his son Fred was taken care of, and how! It’s only natural.

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A READER WRITES: I'm a near-lifelong reader, but I'm seriously considering canceling my subscription to the New York Times. Their cloyingly phony both-sidesism has helped prop up Trump from the beginning, and now instead of investigating what desperately needs to be investigated, they're trying to blow the whistle on (and very possibly endanger the life of) the whistleblower.

theguardian.com/media/2019/sep/26/new-york-times-trump-ukraine-whistleblower-published

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EXTINCTION REBELLION ACTIVISTS IN SACRAMENTO

by Dan Bacher

Over 20 activists from the Extinction Rebellion today targeted the offices of the Western State Petroleum Association (WSPA) offices at 1415 L St. at 12 Noon. They sang songs, shouted out chants and briefly blocked the street in front of the WSPA offices just down the street from the State Capitol. There were no arrests.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying group in California, and its members (e.g. Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Valero), have contributed over $170 million to California political campaigns since 2001.

The organization and its member companies regularly top the list of lobbying expenditures every year. For example, in 2017 Big Oil took three out of four top spots for expenditures by lobbying organizations: Chevron first at $8.2 million; WSPA second at $6.2 million, and Tesoro fourth at $3.2 million.

Every piece of legislation opposed by Big Oil, with two exceptions, has failed to make it out of the legislature during the past three years. That legislation includes a bill this year that would have created 2,500 feet health and safety setbacks from new oil and gas wells. As usual, that legislation was made into a two year bill because of intense political pressure by the oil and “natural” gas industry.

Unlike California, other states, including Texas, have health and safety setbacks. Dallas, Texas requires 1,500 foot setbacks from oil and gas wells while the state of Texas has 250 feet setbacks from fracking operations through the state. California, in contrast with its “green” facade that is promoted by state officials and the mainstream media, has ZERO setbacks.

“WSPA does not simply advocate for Big Oil, it also manipulates California politics through hostile takeovers of regulatory agencies, dirty tricks such as astroturfing and influence peddling,” the group said in a press release.

“Thanks to WSPA and its clients, California as the worst air pollution in the United States, pollutants linked to asthma, lung cancer, and birth complications. Damages also include 18,000 premature deaths in our State annually,” the activists said.

“Meanwhile, Big Oil fouls the land, including a massive oil spill 800,000 gallons in July 2019, 140,000 gallons off Refugio State Beach in 2015, and 54,000 gallons in San Francisco Bay in 2007,” the group concluded.

For the deep and complete story about Big Oil regulatory capture in California, please read my investigative piece, California’s Biggest Secret? How Big Oil Dominates Public Discourse to Manipulate and Deceive. This updated article is based on an Earth Day week presentation that I made at the Events Center at Chabot College in Hayward on April 25 at the invitation of physics professor Nick Alexander:

California’s Biggest Secret: How Big Oil Manipulates Public Discourse to Manipulate and Deceive

On Earth Day 2019, fifteen activists from the Extinction Rebellion carrying brightly colored signs and banners gathered at 12th and L Streets in front of the State Capitol in Sacramento and then marched at 10:30 a.m. to the looming offices of the powerful Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), located at 14th & L Streets.

For over an hour, they protested against the oil industry’s grip on California and U.S. politics both in front and back of the building, including blocking the back door of the offices of WSPA, the most powerful corporate lobbying group in California and the West.

As they were protesting, the Newsom administration was expanding oil and gas drilling in California. Consumer Watchdog and the FracTracker Alliance released data showing a major increase in permits for new oil and gas wells this year under Governor Newsom. From January 1 to June 3, DOGGR approved 2,365 new oil and gas well permits and 191 fracking permits.

The data shows that this year regulators have increased the number of permits granted for drilling new wells by 35.3%, well reworks by 28.3%, and fracking by 103.2%, as compared to the permitting rate during the final year of the Brown administration in 2018. Of the 2,365 well permits issued, 1064 or 45% of them benefitted oil companies invested in by DOGGR officials.

Imani Davis of Sacramento, who held a sign stating, “No More Oil” in front of the office, said, “I believe in legislation and I believe in the Green New Deal, but to push this to actually happen, we have to put our bodies on the line.”

The Extinction Rebellion has three demands: 1. #TellTheTruth– Declare a climate and ecological emergency; 2. #ActNow– Halt biodiversity loss and go net #ZeroCarbon2025; and 3. #BeyondPolitics– Convene a #CitizensAssemblyfor climate and ecological justice. The action was held as part of an international series of actions in at least 80 cities and 33 countries.

Then at 2:30 p.m. Imani and others went to the State Capitol, Room 447, to a hearing at the Natural Resources Committee urging the California Legislature to support a bill, AB 345, to establish a 2500 foot health and safety zone (setback) between oil drilling and sensitive sites like homes, schools, and playgrounds. Buoyed by a big turnout of environmental justice advocates, the bill passed through the committee.

AB 345 (Health and Safety Zones), passed out of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee by a 7-3-1, with Committee members Al Muratsuchi, Laura Friedman, Monique Limon, Ed Chau, Kevin McCarty, Cristina Garcia, MarkStone casting the “aye” votes. Assembly member Susan Eggman abstained and Davon Mathis, Heath Flora, and Melissa Melendez voted “no.”

The Green California Myth:

For the past decade, California has been portrayed as the nation’s “green leader.” This myth has been promulgated by the Governor’s Office, state leaders, regulatory agencies, compliant media and most importantly, by the powerful oil industry itself.

There’s no doubt that California has a number of good environmental laws, ranging from the California Endangered Species Act to the California Environmental Quality Act. The state government has for years promoted the promotion of electric vehicles, solar energy and other renewable energy.

Yet, in spite of the grandstanding of California officials at international climate conferences, California seriously falls short on many of its environmental policies, even lagging behind states like Texas in critical areas.

Unlike California, Texas has setbacks from fracking operations, with a 1500 foot setback in Dallas, Texas, and 250 feet throughout the rest of the state. Although a 250 feet setback is insufficient to protect human health and the environment, it is better than the current case in California, which has no setbacks from oil and gas drilling operations, none whatsoever.

Here are three other examples of where California falls short:

Expansion of Offshore and Offshore Drilling: A review of state permitting records in the report “The Sky’s The Limit: California,” shows that more than 21,000 drilling permits, including permits for 12,000 new wells, were issued during the Brown administration. These wells include 238 new offshore wells approved between 2012 and 2016 alone, according to Department of Conservation data analyzed by the Fractracker Alliance.

If Jerry Brown’s expansion of oil and gas drilling wasn’t enough, the Gavin Newsom administration has increased permits granted for oil & gas drilling by 35.3% and for fracking & acid fracturing by 103.2% in the first five months of 2019, as compared to the rate of permitting under Jerry Brown, according to Department of Conservation data analyzed by the FracTracker Alliance and Consumer Watchdog.

Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance wrote a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom calling for the removal of eight DOGGR officials with conflicts of interests, as well as an immediate freeze on new well approvals. Read the letter here:

https://consumerwatchdog.org/sites/default/files/2019-07/DOGGRLettertoNewsomCWDandFracTracker.pdf

Here is a link to the 700 forms for the DOGGR officials with oil and gas investments: https://consumerwatchdog.org/sites/default/files/2019-06/DOGGR700sRegulatorInvestments.pdf

Consumer Watchdog’s FPPC Complaints: https://consumerwatchdog.org/sites/default/files/2019-07/CWD%20DOGGR%20FPPC%20Complaints.pdf

CA Governor controls 4 times as many offshore wells as Trump: Last year, Governor Jerry Brown called Trump’s plan to expand federal offshore oil drilling leases “short-sighed and reckless. However, a website – www.BrownvTrumpOilMap.com— shows Brown controls four times more oil wells in state waters than those Trump controls in federal waters, according to Consumer Watchdog.

Offshore wells in state waters controlled by the Brown Administration total 5460, versus 1429 offshore wells in federal waters controlled by the Trump administration. Federal waters are those three nautical miles or more off California’s coast.

Of the state wells, 2028 are active; 1336 are production wells, while the rest are support wells like wastewater disposal and water flood/steam flood/observation, etc, according to Kyle Ferrar of the Fractracker Alliance. The federal offshore wells include 702 wells listed as active.

Air Quality: California has some of the worst air pollution in the nation: The American Lung Association’s 2019 “State of the Air” reportfinds that an increasing number of Americans—more than 4 in 10—lived with unhealthy air quality, placing their health and lives at risk. The 20th annual air quality “report card” found that 141.1 million people lived in counties with unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution, an increase of more than 7.2 million Americans since the last annual report.

“Eight cities recorded their highest number of days with unhealthy spikes in particle pollution since the nation began monitoring this pollutant 20 years ago. And the nation recorded more days with air quality considered hazardous, when air quality reached “emergency conditions”—Maroonon the air quality index—than ever before,” according to the association. California cities topped the group’s list of the nation’s most polluted cities:

By Ozone:

1:Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA

2:Visalia, CA

3:Bakersfield, CA

4:Fresno-Madera-Hanford, CA

5:Sacramento-Roseville, CA

By Year Round Particle Pollution

1: Fresno-Madera-Hanford, CA

2: Bakersfield, CA

3: Fairbanks, AK

4: Visalia, CA

5: Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA

By Short Term Particle Pollution

1: Bakersfield, CA

2: Fresno-Madera-Hanford, CA

3: Fairbanks, AK

4: San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA

5: Missoula, MT

WSPA/Big Oil and the six ways it exerts its control

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) is not a household name in California, but it should be. It’s the trade association for the oil industry and the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying organization in the state. If you want to know the industries, organizations and people that control California, WSPA and Big Oil are right at the top of the list.

WSPA represents a who’s who of oil and pipeline companies, including AERA, BP, California Resources Corporation, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon, Plains All American Pipeline Company, Valero and many others. The companies that WSPA represents account for the bulk of petroleum exploration, production, refining, transportation and marketing in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, according to the WSPA website, www.wspa.org.

WSPA and Big Oil wield their power and influence over public discourse in 6 major ways: through (1) lobbying; (2) campaign spending; (3) serving on and putting shills on regulatory panels; (4) creating Astroturf groups: (5) working in collaboration with media; and (6) contributing to non profit organizations.

Lobbying

Over the past decade, WSPA and Big Oil have topped the list of spenders on lobbying the Legislature in California. During the 2015-2016 Legislative Session, the oil industry spent a historic $36.1 million to lobby lawmakers and officials in California.

WSPA was the top overall oil industry spender during the 2015-16 session, spending $18.7 million. Chevron, the second overall oil industry spender, spent $7 million in the 2015-16 session.

In 2017, Big Oil also dominated three out of the four top spots of expenditures by all lobbying organizations. Chevron placed first with $8.2 million and the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) placed second with $6.2 million. Tesoro Refining and Marketing Company finished fourth with $3.2 million.

That’s a total of $17.6 million dumped into lobbying by the three top oil industry lobbying organizations alone. That figure exceeds the $14,577,314 expended by all 16 oil lobby organizations in 2016.

In the first six months of 2017, the oil industry spent more on lobbying in California, $16,360,618, in the first six months of 2017 than was spent by the industry in all of 2016, $16.0 million.

This translates to an average of $2.7 million per month – $90,000 per day– according to a report compiled and written by William Barrett of the Lung Association in California. Over the past ten years, oil lobbying in California has topped $150 million.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA has topped lobbying spending in California most years. In 2018 the group was the second-highest spender for the year, only trumped by the nearly $10 million spent by PG&E lobbying state officials.

For the entire 2017-2018 Session, WSPA spent a total of $15,768,069 and spent $7,874, 807 to influence California government officials in 2018. The powerful association spent all of its money in the 2017-2018 session on general lobbying, Of the four quarters, WSPA spent its most money lobbying, $2,649,018, in the eighth quarter, from October 1 to December 31, 2018.

With help from the “Big Oil Caucus,” a group of oil industry friendly Democrats in the State Legislature, the oil industry has been successful at halting other important bills aimed at better regulating its practices.

These bills included AB 356 (Williams), SB 248 (Pavley), and SB 484 (Allen). These bills would have reformed the state’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) program by requiring disclosure of chemicals used in well treatments or injections; ensuring that oil and gas projects do not contaminate aquifers containing water suitable for drinking and irrigation; requiring the State Water Board to review aquifer exemption applications; and/or requiring the shutdown of illegal injection wells if regulators fail to shut them down.

The industry also notably stopped a bill to protect the coast from oil spills, SB 788, sponsored by Senator Mike McGuire.

In 2017, the massive infusion of Big Oil money enabled it to push through Governor Jerry Brown’s AB 398, a bill based on a Western States Petroleum Association wish list that extends California’s controversial cap and trade program with provisions very favorable to the oil industry. The gusher of money the oil industry also resulted in the shelving of SB 834, a bill banning any new pipelines and other infrastructure to support new oil drilling leases in federal waters off the California coast, although an amended version of the bill was passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor in 2018.

Campaign Spending

Big Oil has pumped $170 million into CA campaigns since 2001.WSPA and its members contributed more than $112 million to ballot measure campaigns, $8 million to state candidates, and $50 million to other California political action committees and party committees, according to a MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State, in February 2018.

Chevron tops the list of political donors from WSPA’s membership, contributing $89 million overall since 2001, the first year in which online data is available. Aera Energy has contributed the second most at roughly $40 million, and Valero is third at $13 million.

Then in October 2018, an 8-month-long NBC Bay Area and Maplight investigation found the oil and gas industry paid $182 million to California politicians, PACs and political causes between 2001 and June 30, 2018.

The top 5 recipients (individual politicians) were as follows:

  1. Arnold Schwarzenegger ($169,350)
  2. Jerry Brown ($159,199)
  3. Gray Davis ($151,900)
  4. Cathleen Galgiani ($106,899)
  5. Margaret Whitman ($104,550)

The report also revealed that contributions from oil companies to individual politicians totaled $8,938,822 from 2001-2017. The top five politicians currently in government are:

  1. Assemblymember Jim Frazier – (D): 87,376
  2. Assemblymember Catherine Baker (R): $82,818
  3. Senator Toni Atkins (D): $60,800
  4. Assemblymember Tim Grayson: $52,100
  5. Senator Steven Glazier (D): $42,350

Big Oil also dumps a lot of money into local and regional campaigns. In 2014, Chevron alone spent $3 million (unsuccessfully) to elect their selected candidates to the Richmond City Council. The oil industry also dumped $7.6 million into defeating a measure calling for a fracking ban in Santa Barbara County and nearly $2 million into an unsuccessful campaign to defeat a measure banning fracking and other extreme oil extraction techniques in San Benito County during the November 2014 election.

The oil industry spent a total of $266 million influencing California politics from 2005 to 2014, according to an analysis of California Secretary of State data by StopFoolingCA.org. The industry spent $112 million of this money on lobbying and the other $154 million on political campaigns.

While Governor Jerry Brown received accolades for his frequent speeches at climate conferences around the world, he was the recipient of millions of dollars of Big Oil and Big Gas money that has promoted the expansion of offshore and onshore drilling in California in his third and fourth terms as Governor.

Consumer Watchdog’s groundbreaking report, “Brown’s Dirty Hands,” reveals how Brown and his top appointees used the Democratic Party as a “slush fund, sucking in contributions from unpopular energy companies in close proximity, and sometimes on the same day, that his Administration helped those companies in controversial ways.”

“Twenty-six energy companies including Occidental, Chevron, NRG and the state’s three major investor-owned utilities – all with business before the state – donated $9.8 million to Jerry Brown’s campaigns, causes, and initiatives, and to the California Democratic Party since he ran for Governor. Donations were often made within days or weeks of winning favors. The three major investor-owned utilities alone contributed nearly $6 million,” according to the report. “Between 2011 and 2014, the energy companies tracked by Brown’s Dirty Hands donated $4.4 million to the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party gave $4.7 million to Brown’s re-election committee.”

Regulatory Panels & Commissions

In California, oil and gas industry officials don’t just influence state officials. In a number of cases, oil industry leaders ARE the state regulators as they serve on regulatory panels and commissions.

In one classic example, the WSPA President, Catherine Reheis- Boyd, chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create “marine protected areas” in Southern California from 2009 to 2012 – and served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast or North Coast from 2004 to 2012.

While she oversaw the crafting “marine protected areas” that fail to protect the ocean from pollution, fracking, oil drilling, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts other than sustainable fishing and gathering, her husband, James Boyd, was vice chair of the California Energy Commission.

Big Oil also gets its buddies in key positions in regulatory agencies. In November 2011, Governor Brown fired two regulators, Derek Chernow, acting director of Department of Conservation, and his deputy, Elena Miller. Brown replaced Chernow with Mark Nechodom to expedite permits in Kern County,

Nechodom, in turn resigned in the summer of 2015 the day after Central Valley farmers filed a RICO lawsuit alleging that Governor Jerry Brown’s office ordered the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR”) to approve permits to inject contaminated water in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

In October 2015, Governor Brown announced the appointment of Bill Bartling, 61, of Bakersfield, who has worked as an oil industry executive and consultant, as district deputy for Bakersfield in the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) at the embattled California Department of Conservation.

Astroturf Groups

Not only does Big Oil spend millions every year on lobbying and campaign contributions, but it funds “Astroturf” campaigns to oppose and weaken environmental laws.

“Astroturfing” is the practice, used often by powerful corporate interests, of masking the sponsors of a message or organization to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participant(s).

Leaked documents provided to Northwest Public Radio, Business Week, and other media outlets in 2014 exposed a campaign by the Western States Petroleum Association to fund and coordinate a network of “Astroturf” groups to oppose environmental laws and local campaigns against fracking in California, Washington, and Oregon.

This network was revealed in a PowerPoint presentation from a November 11, 2014 presentation to the Washington Research Council given by Reheis-Boyd.

The network featured a total of 16 “Astroturf” groups, including the California Drivers Alliance, Fed Up at The Pump, Californians Against Higher Taxes, Save Our Jobs, Washington Consumers for Sound Fuel Policy, AB 32 Implementation Group, Tank the Tax, Oregonians for Sound Fuel Policy, Californians for Affordable & Reliable Energy, Fueling California and California Fuel Facts.

Media Complicity with Big Oil

Most mainstream and “alternative” media have done a poor job to date covering the connections between fracking and other extreme oil extraction methods and Big Oil money and power in Sacramento.

Nor will you see much media coverage of how the Los Angeles Times and the California Resources Corporation, an Occidental Petroleum spinoff, teamed up to create “Powering California,” a Big Oil propaganda campaign website.

Clean Energy California broke the story on their twitter page when they published a tweet from Western States Petroleum Association President Catherine Reheis-Boyd promoting the new site on October 27, 2015.

Reheis-Boyd tweeted, “Learn how California’s #energy industry is quietly elevating the middle class & improving our quality of life: poweringcalifornia.com”

Donating to non-profit organizations

Chevron and other oil and gas corporations spend millions on funding non-profit groups to extend their realm of influence.

For example, Richmond Chevron contributed $6,915,190 in 2015 alone, including $3,888,750 for economic development; 2,339,879 for education; $444,261 for youth and public safety; and $242,300 for civic and community.

Since 2012, Richmond Chevron has “invested” $25 million in local non-profit groups.

Capture of the regulators from top to bottom

What do all six methods used by the oil industry to influence California politicians and regulators buy? They buy deep regulatory capture — the capture of the regulators by the regulated — from top to bottom and the manipulation of public discourse to the point where most Californians have no clue about Big Oil’s capture of the regulatory apparatus.

As a result, only two bills opposed by the oil industry have made it out of the legislature to the Governor’s Desk in the past three years, even while the Governor and Legislature have incessantly portrayed the state as the nation’s “green leader.”

At the same time as the oil industry has pumped millions of dollars every year into lobbying and campaign expenditures, there was a massive expansion of new oil and gas drilling under the administration of Governor Jerry Brown. A report published on May 22, 2018, by Oil Change International, in collaboration with California-based and national environmental justice and climate groups, reveals how California’s climate leadership requires a managed ramp-down of oil production.

“The Sky’s The Limit: California” provided new data findings on the climate and budgetary impacts of three related policies:

  • Ceasing the permitting of new oil and gas extraction wells;
  • Implementing a 2,500-foot health and safety buffer around homes, schools, and hospitals in which existing wells would phase out; and
  • Placing a Just Transition Fee on oil extraction in the state exclusively dedicated to supporting affected workers and communities through the transition to clean energy

On April 11 last year, more than 750 public interest groups from California and around the world kicked off a campaign, “Brown’s Last Chance,” urging Governor Brown to stop the build-out of dirty fossil fuel infrastructure, keep oil and gas in the ground, and “take immediate action to protect those most vulnerable to climate change or lose their support for the global climate action summit” that he hosted September 12-14, 2018, in San Francisco. Unfortunately, in spite of 30,000 people marching through the streets of San Francisco, and several days of direct action at Jerry Brown’s Global Climate Conference, Brown refused to budge one bit.

Will Newsom Change Things?

During his campaign, California Governor Gavin Newsom pledged to “on day one … issue a directive putting California on a clear path to 100 percent renewable energy.”

Newsom also signed a pledge to take no oil money during his campaign, a result of political pressure by the Oil Money Out campaign.

On March 27, a coalition of 120 organizations called on Gov. Newsom to fulfil his pledge by doing the following.

• End new oil and gas development

• Halt the most dangerous forms of drilling, like fracking, acidizing and cyclic steam

• Create a plan for ending all fossil fuel production in California in the next ten years

• Institute a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure, including pipelines, power plants, refineries and export facilities

• Implement a 2,500 foot setback for all current drilling projects to protect homes, schools, hospitals, and water supplies

• Protect the state’s water supply from oil and gas contamination by halting the injection of oil wastewater into aquifers and prohibiting the use of oil wastewater to irrigate crops.

• Put California on the path to a fair and just transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 in line with scientific consensus and national calls for a green new deal

Then on April 23, leading frontline environmental justice organizations announced a new coalition VISIÓN — “to advocate for safe and effective statewide policies to protect people from the impacts of drilling for oil and gas.” Voices in Solidarity against Neighborhood Drilling (VISIÓN) is leading efforts in California for health and safety protections from oil and gas operations, according to a press release from the coalition.

On the day before, members of the coalition and their allies were instrumental in getting AB 345, legislation requiring health and safety setbacks from new oil and gas wells not on federal land, passed out of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee by a 7-3-1 vote.

However, after intense lobbying by the Western States Petroleum Association and the oil companies, stalled in the Appropriations Committee of the California Assembly on Thursday, becoming a two-year-bill.

The bill will be brought up again in 2020. AB 345, authored by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance),would ensure that new oil and gas wells not on federal land are located 2,500 feet away from homes, schools, hospitals, playgrounds and health clinics.

VISIÓN is comprised of Central California Asthma Collaborative (CCAC), Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN), Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment (CRPE), Central Valley Air Quality Coalition (CVAQ), Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles (PSR-LA), ¡SALUD! Kern County, California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), and Californians Against Fracking and Dangerous Drilling (CAF).

On the national level, things are even worse under the Trump administration. Right now Trump’s Secretary of Interior is David Bernhardt, a lobbyist for Big Oil and Westlands Water District that I have covered here in a series of articles. Trump is supporting new oil drilling on public lands and new federal offshore oil drilling leases on the West Coast, destructive plans that a broad coalition of environmental justice, indigenous, fishing and conservation groups is now fighting.

Note: This article has been updated with the latest data from a report by Consumer Watchdog and the FracTracker Alliance.

(Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento. He can be reached at: Dan Bacher danielbacher@fishsniffer.com.)

* * *

MOVE OVER COTTON

* * *

MEASURE BLAH

To the Editor:

Re: The 9/25/29 Measure B meeting

A lot of blah, blah, blah.

Two years after Measure B passed, a bricks-and mortar PHF isn't being built anytime soon. An architect hasn't even been hired yet. Also, the Mental Health Treatment Act Citizens' Oversight Committee is making clear distinctions among the "design" of the PHF, the "construction" of the PHF, and the "operation" of the PHF.

Meanwhile, cash is piling up in the Measure B account. It's something like $9 million to date.

What will happen to all that cash?

My guess is that the accumulated monies will be tantamount to a mental health "slush fund". RCS will probably get a big part of it.

My other guess is that the accumulated monies will, in some way, be used to subsidize a county budget deficit which looms in 2020. This is a real possibility, if another recession hits in 2020-2021.

Auditors, sharpen your pencils!

Another thing. The discussion about the PHF is now being complicated by new talk about other things besides the PHF.

So what here's the new lexicon for all these moving targets:

•   Crisis Triage Teams
•   
•   30-day Crisis Residential Treatment (CRT) Facility 
•   
•   23-hour Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) 
•   
•   Mobile Crisis Team
•   

Keep in mind, the crisis management and mobile crisis teams are usually supported by federal and state grant funds. The staff providing for the operations of the PHF may or may not be supported by grant funds.

I've done some research. The most recent data I found is for FY16/17 in Santa Barbara County.

In Santa Barbara County, 97% of clients served by the Crisis Stabilization Unit were stabilized without needing admission to an inpatient psychiatric facility within 24 hours of discharge from the CSU.

Also, 86% of clients served by the Crisis Residential Treatment (CRT) programs were stabilized without needing hospitalization within 30 days of discharge. This represents a 3% increase in hospital diversion from FY15/16.

Also to be considered are the service locations for Mobile Crisis and Triage Teams. Hospitals include emergency rooms, inpatient medical units as well as inpatient psychiatric units. Community locations include, but are not limited to, home, field, homeless shelters and schools.

Again, in Santa Barbara County, consistent with FY15/16, the majority of Triage services in FY16/17 (Q1-2) were provided in the office or via telephone, while Mobile Crisis services were primarily provided in hospitals and emergency rooms.

However, during the first 6 months of FY16/17, the distribution of service location shifted in north and south parts of the county for Triage and Mobile Crisis. Therefore, both Triage and Mobile Crisis were relocated to a more central office in Santa Barbara County. As a result, Triage staff began responding to more walk-in clients, in-office crises and urgent calls for service. Triage staff provided more office/phone-based services such as assessments and crisis intervention, while Mobile Crisis continued to respond in the community and hospitals.

Notice that I haven't even mentioned Santa Barbara County's PHF.

Hmm.

It's been my experience as a grand juror that the best way to rip off the taxpayer is to confuse them.

Are you confused yet?

John Sakowicz, Candidate 1st District Supervisor

Ukiah

* * *

REPO SPIKE

To the Editor:

Something that really concerns me is that, every day for five days, during the third week of September, the Federal Reserve Bank has pouring $75 billion into the overnight repo market -- that's almost $400 billion.

The "repo" market is defined as interbank lending -- it's when banks, including the Fed, lend to each other.

In other words, for the first time in more than a decade, the Fed has been injecting liquidity into money markets.

Even worse, benchmark rates, more technically known as the Secured Overnight Finance Rate (SOFR), spiked along with the volume of borrowing.

SOFR topped at an annualized rate of 10% last week, four times higher than the prior week. That essentially meant some banks were willing to pay upwards of 10% interest rates for overnight cash. When’s the last time your cash earned that high of a rate? That’s why it was such a dramatic and eye-catching move. The daily fluctuation -- the ebb and flow of rates -- when compared to the September spike, is truly breathtaking.

This high repo spike, coupled with the recent cut in rates by the Fed, gives me great concern.

Is this a technical spike?

Or is a recession coming?

The other thing that concerns me is Brexit. The euro has been pushed lower and lower. And Thomas Cook -- a 138-year old travel company -- just went bankrupt. Is this the first casualty of Brexit? Was Thomas Cook the canary in the coal mine?

Indeed, what is going on?

I wrote to Callan Associates about these warning signs. I also copied Katherine Cavness, who chairs the Retirement Board, and Supervisor Dan Gjerde, who is the immediate past chair of the Retirement Board; also, Dr. James Wilbanks, who is MCERA's administrator, and MCERA's investment officer, Robert Reveles. They don't have to answer me directly, of course, because I'm no longer on the Retirement Board, but I do hope someone asks the same questions at October's Retirement Board meeting.

Keep in mind, our county's pension system suffered unrealized losses of more than 30 percent after the 2007-2008 global financial crisis.

The bottom line?

How is MECRA's portfolio positioned in the event of another recession? And how secure are our county's pensions?

John Sakowicz, Candidate 1st District Supervisor

* * *

FOUND OBJECT

24 Comments

  1. Lazarus September 28, 2019

    FOUND OBJECT

    Don’t you even think about it, Barack!!!

    As always,
    Laz

  2. Harvey Reading September 28, 2019

    Not me.

  3. Harvey Reading September 28, 2019

    Good on Dan Bacher. He’s been telling the truth for decades.

  4. Harvey Reading September 28, 2019

    Failed democracy?

    That’s funny. Guess Hedges took seriously the hokum he learned in primary school. The U.S. was set up by wealthy slaveowners in a way that ensured that people at the top called the shots for as long as the place lasted. It was never, ever a democracy. Those wealthy few who wrote the supreme law document made sure of that.

  5. Harvey Reading September 28, 2019

    Found Object

    Birds of a feather…

  6. chuck dunbar September 28, 2019

    FOUND OBJECT:

    “Michelle Sees It Straight-On”

  7. Pat Kittle September 28, 2019

    The “Extinction Rebellion” cynically deceives us in thinking we’re going to reverse the worst ecological catastrophe in 65,000,000 years — while enabling BILLIONS more consumer units to be added to Earth’s already obscenely over-populated apex predator species.

    As the Age of Petroleum winds down and “alternatives” prove inadequate at best (& catastrophic at worst) we are being encouraged by fools (& worse) to encourage those added BILLIONS to move to the so-called 1st world.

    1st world citizens are actually breeding responsibly — 1st world human populations are crashing — EXACTLY what is ecologically needed.

    If the “Extinction Rebellion” is serious about its name, it will encourage 3rd over-breeders to stop over-breeding. So far it encourages them to move to the 1st world — where their per-capita consumption goes up along with their catastrophic birthrates.

    The only explanation that is consistent with this behavior is the White-replacement agenda.

    I don’t hate over-breeders — I simply state FACTS. Other hate me, because I state un-sugar-coated ecological FACTS that need to be said.

    Call me whatever you want — then FACTUALLY refute what I say.

    Cheers!
    :-)

    • George Hollister September 28, 2019

      What will happen in the future is not a fact until it happens. Good to keep that in mind, since what was supposed to happen seldom(never)does.

      • Pat Kittle September 28, 2019

        George:

        No offense intended, but I really expected more from you.

        Apparently you have little use for the scientific method, which makes predictions (you know, “what will happen in the future”) based on hypotheses, often derived from FACTS.

        Today, for example, “was supposed to happen” over approximately 24 hours, based on a whole lot of FACTUAL evidence.

        But — “since what was supposed to happen seldom(never)does” — when today ends, George, you can gloat over how it didn’t happen over an approximately 24 hour period.

        In the meantime, have a nice day!
        :-)

        PS: Don’t even think about “White replacement” — and don’t let anyone else think about it either.

        Whites are being replaced because they deserve to be replaced and there’s nothing they can do about it, and besides, the idea that Whites are being replaced is just a paranoid fantasy on the part of Whites who deserve to be replaced — because White replacement isn’t really happening. Yes, you read that right.

        But don’t take my word for that, ask your local SJW.

        • George Hollister September 29, 2019

          Pat, my arrogant opinion is based on my own flawed past experiences. The basis for predicting the future, is at best, based on facts. No argument there. But there are facts we don’t know, or want to know. And we make projections on a linear basis, when little of anything is linear. A long ago employer of mine used to say, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” A long late friend told me one time, “Only fools and strangers predict the weather, and you’re no stranger.”

          • Pat Kittle September 29, 2019

            I’ve preferred the response to that question:

            If you’re so rich, why aren’t you smart?

            But this is all a distraction from the original point:

            “Climate activists” are fundamentally dishonest when they promote open borders (for the world’s most notorious over-breederss to pour into the world’s most notorious carbon emitter).

            Care to weigh in on that?

          • George Hollister September 29, 2019

            Climate Change, as it’s defined today, would be nothing without the political drama. So if a movement is fundamentally political, of course it’s activists are fundamentally dishonest. It’s in the nature of things.

          • Pat Kittle September 29, 2019

            So we’re agreed it seems…

            The organizers who demand CO2 reduction PLUS open borders for the 1st world are fundamentally dishonest.

            (Many of their followers mean well.)

            The real agenda is obvious to anyone without PC blinders.

  8. Michael Koepf September 28, 2019

    EXTINCTION REBELLION ACTIVISTS IN SACRAMENTO by Dan Bacher.

    Whew. Next time, just paste up the phone directory. It will make for a shorter read.

    • Louis Bedrock September 28, 2019

      Perhaps it’s available in comic book form for people at your reading level.

  9. Betsy Cawn September 28, 2019

    As for the anti-intellectual contemporary civil decline, see David Riesman’s “The Lonely Crowd” — written 70 years ago — that predicted the current state of consumerism and idiocracy we have today.

  10. Betsy Cawn September 28, 2019

    Re: “Several committee members wondered what kinds of services the County now provides and what kinds of additional services such a request would include. After two years of meetings, they still don’t know.”

    Measure B Committee’s ineptitude must be laid at the feet of the Board of Supervisors, whose responsibility for compliance with California Welfare & Institutions Code (Division 5 – Community Mental Health Services, Part 2 – The Bronzan-McCorquodale Act, Chapter 1 – General Provisions, Section 5604.2) includes:

    (a) The local mental health board shall do all of the following:

    (1) Review and evaluate the community’s mental health needs, services, facilities, and special problems.

    (2) Review any county agreements entered into pursuant to Section 5650.

    (3) Advise the governing body and the local mental health director as to any aspect of the local mental health program.

    (4) Review and approve the procedures used to ensure citizen and professional involvement at all stages of the planning process.

    (5) Submit an annual report to the governing body on the needs and performance of the county’s mental health system.

    (6) Review and make recommendations on applicants for the appointment of a local director of mental health services. The board shall be included in the selection process prior to the vote of the governing body.

    (7) Review and comment on the county’s performance outcome data and communicate its findings to the California Mental Health Planning Council.

    (8) Nothing in this part shall be construed to limit the ability of the governing body to transfer additional duties or authority to a mental health board.

    (b) It is the intent of the Legislature that, as part of its duties pursuant to subdivision (a), the board shall assess the impact of the realignment of services from the state to the county, on services delivered to clients and on the local community.

    (Amended by Stats. 1993, Ch. 564, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 1994.)

    The Mendocino County website includes a well populated section explaining the “services” it provides:

    https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/health-and-human-services-agency/mental-health-services/mental-health-board

    The key function of the MHAB is to evaluate the capacities of “mental health” service providers — County-funded operations compliant with the state Department of Health Care Services administration requirements, for which the annual “Mental Health Plan” (defining levels of services to be “reimbursed” after delivery) must be okayed by the BoS before submittal to the state.

    In Mendocino County, “Mental Health Director Jenine Miller said the County basically only provides ‘reimbursable’ services, meaning only for ‘severely mentally ill.’ What ‘services’ would be provided for ‘mild to moderately mentally ill’ in the new Crisis Residential and Crisis Stabilization ‘units’ continues to be a mystery to everyone involved.

    “We serve the most severely mentally ill, but not mild to moderate. We don’t have any data on mild to moderate mental health service needs.”

    Lake County’s Mental Health Advisory Board does not even have a website to pretend that it is compliant with state regulatory codes, and the Board of Supervisors has failed to recruit, train, and use the function of its MHAB, which has not met in over a year — after a decade of dithering with no capacity to fulfill the “mission” it was designed for — leaving the Lake County population completely in the dark as to the performance of roughly $15M annual department budget and zero reporting on levels of service (like Mendocino County, heavily focused on 5150/5152 crisis intervention services), or anything else about the population in need.

    Both Lake and Mendocino Counties appear to have adopted the same method for “management” by “committees, “boards,” and “commissions” with minimal reporting requirements and — in Lake County, anyway — no budget for their operations. This allows the Boards of Supervisors to ignore popular mandates and state regulatory requirements while they collect their paychecks for a few hours a week spent in the County courthouse.

    Happily handing off the critical operations of county business to a “chief administrative officer” or “chief executive officer” whose independent authority to eradicate top personnel, without so much as a how-do-you-do emulates the mafian enterprise agencies while the rest of the “press” yawns, leaves the misery sisters in charge with zero accountability, again/again/again.

    If the paying public wants to stop this shit show, the state Department of Health Care Services and the Mental Health Services Oversight & Accountability Commission are responsible for auditing the systems — and in Lake County that has taken place over the last couple of years due to the state’s renewed attention focused on internal practices, costs, and outcomes.

    But we still have no idea how many people are “served” (severely mentally ill adults or severely emotionally disturbed youth) and why the long-needed Crisis Intervention/Stabilization center and Mobile Crisis Units have not been delivered 16 years after the passage of Prop. 63. And RCS has colonized parts of Lake County, providing its “third party” operations under the unscrutinized out-sourcing contracts our Administration employs with regularity.

    Not even our brave local Grand Jury has the temerity to tackle this backwoods boondoggle. But please don’t give up, Major — our mentally aberrant local governments must be held to account for this abject failure to comply with Article XIII of the California Constitution, even if no one knows what that is.

    • Ted Williams September 28, 2019

      Betsy, thanks for the advice and clear direction.

  11. Louis Bedrock September 28, 2019

    —What must be remembered is that US politics is not simply representative of the death of reason and the emergence of a raw, unblemished, intense stupidity; it is also about the death of the formative cultures that make thinking possible. Manufactured thoughtlessness produces not only an inattentiveness to the never-ending task of critique; it is the failure of conscience and moral witnessing. Reminiscent of Francisco Goya’s “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters,” the scourge of stupidity sweeping US culture represents a war against thought and critical agency, and flirts with a kind of fascistic irrationality, which lies at the heart of the spectacle of violence engulfing US society. The triumph of stupidity and manufactured ignorance is on full display in US political life and is matched by a savage militarization of the culture, an intensified level of daily violence and aggression, the withering of the social, and the withdrawal into private obsessions. Citizens have now become consumers, smothering in a fog of exaggerated self-interest.

    —Henry A. Giroux

    • Michael Koepf September 28, 2019

      Egg head academician lectures down from his ivory tower and informs us peasants exactly who we are. Somehow, this smacks of Maximillen Robespierre.

    • Louis Bedrock September 28, 2019

      Too bad Giroux never met Koepf.
      Koepf would be a perfect “Exhibit A”

      • Michael Koepf September 28, 2019

        I’ve met Giroux. On line. He’s a smug, far-lefty academic, who does the talking for smug, far-lefty sycophants that have trouble thinking for themselves. They often slavishly post his inane nattering to the boredom of everyone else.

  12. Craig Stehr September 28, 2019

    ~Notes from the Spiritual Path on the Occasion of My 70th Birthday~
    Writing, writing, writing, writing, is the activity which allows the spiritual Absolute to directly communicate with the world of two-leggeds on the planet earth. Automatic writing is simply holding a writing instrument over a piece of blank paper and not interfering with the spiritual Absolute authoring whatever is being written down.
    In south India, Sri Aurobindo wrote the epic Savitri in this manner. He said that at times he would sit for two hours and the pen would not move. At other times he would sit there and write at length. As the “Instrument of the Divine Will”, there was no way for him to know what was going to happen, so he just sat down at his writing desk regularly, in cooperation with God.
    Automatic writing is now my trade. I have no other interest in terms of a work, and have gone as far as I am able to go with peace & justice activism, Catholic Worker service to the poorest of the poor, radical environmental campaigns, and so on and so forth.
    On September 28th, this mind-body complex will be 70 years of age. There is no further motivation to survive in a capitalistic, materialistic, confused postmodern America. I am just not into it! And going to pubs to down a few beers isn’t going to work anymore either. The current implosion of political America, plus the worsening of climate destabilization, and the endless hell of the Kali Yuga in general cannot be successfully ameliorated by occasionally visiting pubs. Usage of opiate drugs and lately heroin and methamphetamine, in addition to alcoholic consumption, is at a record level in the United States of America. Is anybody really better off for it?
    We are living in a social hell realm on earth, with the specter of nuclear war always there. Loneliness is literally killing people. The lack of love is a postmodern curse. The real addiction is to objects, to the acquisition of ever more consumer items. This further alienates society and never satisfies anybody. Objects do not satisfy. Constantly having a mind which is outward going is bad. There is no love there, no light there, only darkness.
    The spiritually minded individual is not valued in America. This is why living in the USA is so difficult. We are all spiritual beings. Much of contemporary life in the USA is bizarre and in some cases insane. When you detach from the spiritual, you have left home and are then homeless in the real sense, regardless of how many houses that you might own. And take a look at the overwhelming amount of technological products now available. The psychological effects on the individual are being seriously researched. How about the strange compulsion of taking endless selfies? Add to that the use of designer drugs. Craziness is increasing. The mass shootings in schools and American shopping malls are no longer isolated events. There is a problem here. It is increasing and ongoing. This is an emergency. The center of the society is not holding.
    For as long as I can remember, I have been waging a fierce battle to maintain a spiritual centeredness and be able to live in a socially positive, responsible manner. This has led me to live on the edge much of the time, while performing service work, being an activist, and writing about it all. The choices that I have made are consistent with an ongoing commitment to be spiritually unified. I will continue to perform practices from the religious traditions in order to focus the mind on the Divine, and then act from there. It’s my way. Automatic writing is the latest manifestation of this, and the truth flows on. ~Peaceout~

    Craig Louis Stehr
    Email: craiglouisstehr@gmail.com
    Telephone Messages: (707) 923-2114
    Mailing Address: c/o Andy Caffrey, 816 Locust St. #C, Garberville, CA 95542

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