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AVA End-of-the-Year Awards, 2019

(A preliminary list we hope readers will flesh out with their own awards)

MOST MONEY IN SALARIES TO LEAST VISIBLE EFFECT: Carmel Angelo; Sage Sangiacomo; Richard Shoemaker 

PERP WALK VICS, FIRED WITH NO EXPLANATION: Barbara Howe; Heidi Dunham; Diane Curry; Harinder Grewal. Victim emeritas, Alan ‘The Kid’ Flora.

NAMBO PAMBOS OF THE YEAR: Dan Gjerde and Lindy Peters who agreed “not to go after each other” in the race for 4th District supervisor.

EYESORE OF THE DECADE: The new Savings Bank on Big Box Row, Ukiah. But, but, but it’s still under construction! (See existing Savings Bank structures.)

OSTRICHES OF THE YEAR: County admin for ignoring the Marbut Report on homelessness despite a direct order from Supes to implement it.

PRINCESS AND THE PEA: DA Eyster’s hard line on Willits Police officer Jacob Jones for a barely visible and perhaps non-existent offense in a previous job in Eureka.

SLAP ON THE WRIST: DA Eyster’s failure to prosecute as murder the killing of harmless street guy Jimmy Isenhart.

LATERAL PERSONNEL MOVE: Sheriff Allman retires, Under-Sheriff Matt Kendall appointed Sheriff.

LAMENTABLE PERSONNEL LOSS: Deputy Craig Walker who left Anderson Valley and the Sheriff’s Department for a cop job in the Bay Area.

INFAMOUS MENDO CRIME OF THE YEAR: Hit and Run death of Caleb Hunnicut and subsequent arrest of accused perp, Gina Bean. (More hits on AVA website than any other single local story this year).

HARD LUCK COMMUNITY OF THE YEAR: Anderson Valley beset by house fires, 7 of them since Thanksgiving leaving upwards of 20 people houseless and two giant piles of rubble in downtown Boonville including the perennial eyesore, cum fire hazard, the Ricard Complex, which remains standing empty, unoccupied for fifty years.

OTHER LOSSES TO ANDERSON VALLEY include the closing of Buckhorn Bar and Restaurant, the loss to fire of the legendary (former) Boonville Lodge and the closure of the Poleeko Roadhouse café in Philo.

BRIGHT NOTES: Founding of the Anderson Valley Village aimed at providing systematic help to keep the local elderly in their homes.

MOST CONTROVERSIAL LOCAL PROPOSAL: Drinking and wastewater system for Boonville.

MOST EXCITING DINNER: The one hosted at Rancho Navarro by Fritz Ohm where Michael Saner shot and killed Willie Martinez before the first course was served. (Saner was tried and sentenced this year.)

NOTABLE EVENTS: Boonville’s first drive-by shooting by rez dogs, Stillday and Knight. 

MOST INCOMPETENT DRIVE-BY OF THE YEAR: Wannabe gangstas Stillday and Knight who shot at the wrong guy at the Boonville Fairgrounds parking lot. 

VEHICLE OF THE YEAR: The AVA’s ’97 Honda wracks up 300,000 miles.

MAD DASH OF THE YEAR: Friday afternoon (April 5), Boonville’s pastoral stupor was shattered by a noisy high speed car chase barreling through Boonville a little before 3pm. It all began when a sharp-eyed deputy near Big Box Row in Ukiah spotted a Dodge Dakota with a license plate affixed to it that belonged to a recreational vehicle, not a pick-up truck. The stolen vehicle’s sole occupant was later identified as Robert Joseph Paul, 32, veteran tweeker out of Eureka.

FILM OF THE YEAR: The Murder Mountain documentary set in Southern Humboldt and the Mendocino County line. Accurate depiction of the love drug’s collateral damage.

BEST MEDICAL NEWS: Chris Skyhawk’s recovery from stroke.

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Katy Tahja’s “An Eclectic History of Mendocino County.”

WORST FOOD NEWS: The opening of Panda Express in Ukiah.

LONGEST RUNNING DEBACLE: Disposition of Ukiah’s Palace Hotel, empty for forty years but still the most attractive large building in the town.

MOST IRRELEVANT ELECTED BODIES: Ukiah City Council; KZYX board of directors; all the school boards of Mendocino County. (Perennial winners.)

LINGUISTS OF THE YEAR: The Mendocino County Homeless Services Continuum of Care announcement that they may adopt official definitions for different groups of homeless people intended to “determine priority and service path when working with individuals and families experiencing homelessness.” But doing nothing to help the problem.

NEPOTIST OF THE YEAR: Supervisor McCowen, whose bogus Climate Change Committee was created to make a highly paid job for a pal from the Mendocino Environment Center whose Ukiah premises McCowen owns but rents free to inactive activists. 

INSTITUTIONAL IDIOCY: The lawyer-enriching, rate-payer screwing bureaucracies administered by the two most incompetent elected entities in the County — the City of Ukiah and the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District.

ZIONIST OF THE YEAR: Mike Koepf of Elk who declared criticism of Israel’s apartheid government to be anti-Semitic.

LEAST DELIVERED FOR MOST PROMISED AWARD: Measure B Committee: Promising to make a large dent in Mendo’s mental health problem by taxing locals for tens of millions of dollars, but in two years of meetings they’ve bought an old church building for a training center, bought an extremely expensive sound system out of the General Fund, hired a “100% illiterate” project manager, and rubberstamped the spending of “up to” $3.3 million for an unnecessary and time consuming “feasibility study,” but couldn’t even revive their own well-funded outreach service, much less get a crisis van going or lease a mobile unit to get a pilot psychiatric hold facility started while mental patients continue to be shipped outtahere for $1000 a day.

OAKLEAF CLUSTER to CEO Angelo for successfully dodging the Grand Jury’s complaints by pretending to agree with it but doing nothing about it while letting the Supes take what little blame they were willing to take as the CEO continued with business as usual.

MOST UNCALLED FOR BOARD CHAMBER REMARKS: Dan Gjerde’s peevish outbursts accusing Supervisor Williams of “Grandstanding” and accusing the County employees’ union rep of “unfortunately escalating” tensions in negotiations while failing to praise Gjerde for selflessly taking a minor pay cut.


HERE’S YER HAT AND WHAT’S YER HURRY: Dan Hamburg who served two somnolent terms as supervisor before leaving for exile in Oregon with his live-in therapist.

RUNNERS UP: Supervisors Carre Brown and John McCowen who are retiring without doing much more than attending lots of meetings and rubberstamping everything CEO Angelo did or didn’t want to do.

MOST DISAPPOINTING FIRST YEAR: Supervisor John Haschak who ran on a platform of “listening” to the public, but in the end failing to even suggest a single item of public interest for the Board’s agenda.

BIGGEST NEW SCAM: The Northcoast’s Democratic Party’s successful reinvention of Doug Bosco’s defunct Northcoast Railroad Authority now morphed into The Great Redwood Trail Scam which will never happen but will pay Bosco millions for bogus track maintenance.

MOST USELESS PUBLIC BUREAUCRACY: The Ukiah Valley Sanitation District, which adds no value to the Ukiah City Sanitation system but got tricked into wasting millions of dollars on a lawsuit on grounds that it had been overcharged by Ukiah.

BEST SINGLE DOCUMENT WITH LEAST RESULT: County Counsel Christian Curtis’s slam dunk refutation of MRC’s “we’re exempt from nuisance laws” position but which MRC continues to ignore — Curtis’s slam dunk, that is.

MOST DESPISED Northern California organization: PG&E Management which ignored the input of local governments like Mendo’s, inconvenienced millions of people with their “safety” power shutoff while leaving the power on at the Geysers where a PG&E tower/line fire caused the evacuation of entire North Bay towns.

BIGGEST FIZZLE: The Exclusive Operating Area (EOA) which was touted as solving the inland ambulance funding and service shortfalls was declared DOA when the City of Ukiah backed out leaving Mendo with minimal ambulance service inland and a funding/financing mess that will take years to even try to clean up.

BIGGEST OXYMORON in Official Mendo History: “Streamlining the cannabis program.”

CLEVEREST TAKE OVER MOVES: The Adventists proposal to operate Coast Hospital in Fort Bragg after waiting for the Hospital’s Board to give up on fixing their finances leaving Coast with no other choice but the Adventists who also will soon cash in on public frustration with the slow pace of the Measure B committee, recently entering the race for Measure B millions by offering to provide emergency mental services at existing Adventist hospitals.

LEAST TRANSPARENT OPERATION IN MENDO HISTORY: Camille Schraeder’s Redwood Quality Management Company, which continues to churn out reams of meaningless snapshot “data dashboard” reports which tell the public nothing about what they’re doing with the $20 million a year we pay them for mental health services which are in such bad shape that Sheriff Allman successfully convinced the public that we need to spend yet another $20 or $30 mil in Measure B sales taxes over and above what the Schraeder’s presently get to do exactly what for how much?

UNBRIDLED OPTIMISM AWARD: When Supervisor Williams asked when Mendo’s failed pot program would break even, Pot Program manager Sean Connell replied: “Well Before Never.”


Supervisor John McCowen: “The board has been asking for budget tracking. I think it should be on a monthly basis. Here's the budgeted amount, here's the expenditure to date. Both the total budget for departments and net county cost. Whatever the appropriate breakdown is. We should get relatively real-time information on how the departments are performing against the budget. I think that would be beneficial as well. We have given these directions in the past. I know everyone's busy doing everything they're doing. These are the types of things that I think would put the county in a position to better evaluate everything that we are doing appropriate or could it be done better.”

CEO Carmel Angelo: “I agree with you Supervisor McCowen that the Board has been asking for metrics on the departments and budget tracking. And I believe we have it down to every other month.”

McCowen: “Um…”

Supervisor McCowen was probably going to say that they don’t have it down to anything like that. But the CEO didn’t want to hear that.

Angelo: “Please let me finish Supervisor McCowen. I know that you in particular have asked for monthly. I can tell you that we are working on metrics and Deputy CEO Darcie Antle has been working on the departments. One of the first actions was educating the departments with more budget training within the department than we've had in the past…”


  1. John Sakowicz January 1, 2020

    To the Editor:


    CARMEL ANGELO “MINI ME” AWARD — Janelle Rau, who is clearly being primed as Angelo’s successor. Ms. Rau’s big-girl hairdo and new wardrobe says it all. Lately, Ms. Rau has also been more sycophantic than her usual snarky self. And she’s covered up her tattoos, although she’s still unsteady in her high heels.

    What experience does Ms. Rau bring? A slavish loyalty to Carmel Angelo. Rau has little to no real work experience outside of working for the county as a soldier for Angelo.

    What education does Ms. Rau have? She attended Mendo College, I think.

    Welcome to the insider world of Mendocino County, where the top jobs don’t go to the most qualified, but to those who can be counted upon as the “staunchly dependable” to do the boss’s bidding.

    It’s why I’m running for the Board of Supervisors. Next year, I want to be joined by other members of the Board in taking a broom to county government and sweeping the bums out.

    It’s time for change. Real change. It’s time for the progressives — and the people — not the county’s power elites.

    John Sakowicz, Candidate, 1st District Supervisor

    • Eric Sunswheat January 1, 2020

      RE: Rau has little to no real work experience outside of working for the county as a soldier for Angelo.
      …taking a broom to county government and sweeping the bums out….
      It’s time for the progressives — and the people — not the county’s power elites.

      ————>. I’m not sure how accurate John Sakowicz’s statement is, being that Janelle Rau worked in the Clerk of the Board office for many years, before Angelo migrated from Social Services and became County CEO.

      At what point do preconceived opinions, ethically constitute an impartiality bias conflict of interest, and require abstention from voting on a particular Agenda Item, when elected officials are seemingly sworn to fairly consider all the evidence presented before them?

      How is progressive defined, and what are bums?

  2. John Sakowicz January 1, 2020

    Eric Sunswheat. Fact check, please.

    As I said, Rau has pretty much only worked for the county. The jobs she held include the following: Central Services/Purchasing; Central Services/Bidding and Contract Quality Control; Central Services/Information Technology; and Central Services/Real Property Administration.

    Keep in mind, Angelo consolidated Central Services, Information Technology, and Risk Management before moving those formerly independent departments to the CEO Office under Angelo’s control, thereby enlarging Angelo’s fiefdom. Rau was part of Angelo’s power grab.

    Then, Angelo outsourced Mental Health to Ortner Management Group, LLC — another power grab. It was intended to cut the number of SEIU workers in the county workforce. But, alas, Ortner was a disastrous choice as a service provider.

    Finally, as Clerk of the Board, Rau worked for Angelo.

    Who controls the board agenda? Who really controls the agenda? Why, Angelo, of course!

    I say, bring back Alan Flora as the next CEO.

    Happy New Year to all!

    — John Sakowicz, Candidate, 1st District Supervisor

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