- Cool Wet
- Gene Walker
- King's English
- Full Moon
- Growing Up
- Narcan Save
- Vacation Attire
- Grant Programs
- Ocean Beach
- Public Pooping
- Howlin' Wolf
- EMS Sustainability
- Chinese Exclusion
- Piggly Wiggly
- Sex & Drugs
- Disaster Preparedness
- New Apartments
- Featured Artist
- Bike-Lane Foes
- Under Attack
- MCDH 2005
- Yesterday's Catch
- National Problem
- Whisky Toothpaste
- California's Homeless
- Media Coverage
- Mind Control
- Climate Presentation
- Found Object
A COOL AND WET PATTERN will persist through the end of next week, with multiple rounds of rain and mountain snow expected. Rain will be mostly light to moderate between today and Tuesday with periodic breaks, with only light snow accumulations expected at most highway summit levels. A potentially stronger and much colder system is expected Wednesday through the end of the week. (NWS)
EUGENE ‘GENE’ CLEMENT WALKER
January 8, 1929 — January 1, 2020
Celebration of Life
Saturday, January 25, 2020 — 2pm
Mendocino County Fairgrounds, Boonville, CA
Potluck Reception to Follow
BOB ABELES NOTES:
I thought you might enjoy reading this message I received from Phil Williams. Apparently, he is working for the CSD, and it might be reasonable to assume he wrote it on behalf of the CSD. Hell of a PR campaign they're running.
Bob Abeles, Boonville
From: Phil Williams <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 9 Jan 2020 06:22:41 +0000
Subject: RE: Water meeting report for AVA
To: Robert Abeles
Cc: District Manager <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Characterizing Ms. Hanelt’s observation that “there are some who are opposed to the projects and spread misinformation” as a conclusion that “anyone with objections to the project or how it is being carried out is a spreader of misinformation” does violence to the King’s English. Mr. Fowler is likely rolling over in his grave.
The use of the conjunctive “and” merely indicates Ms. Hanelt’s observation that there are some who possess two characteristics: opposition to the projects and dispersal of misinformation. Ms. Hanelt does not say, or even indicate, that those who object to the project are the same who are spreading misinformation.
Furthermore, in your mischaracterization of her observation, you improperly mistake Ms. Hanelt’s necessary condition (i.e., “opposition to the projects”) for the dispersal of misinformation as a sufficient condition for said dispersal. As an example, while it is necessary to have fuel to start a fire, the presence of fuel by itself does not produce a fire; one must have, from what I remember, heat, oxygen, and fuel to start a fire — fuel is therefore a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for the event of a fire. While it is entirely logical that one must oppose the projects in order to spread misinformation (i.e., opposition is necessary), that does not mean that opposition to the projects is sufficient in and of itself to result in the spread of misinformation.
Ms. Andrews was being too diplomatic, sir; in no way does the most rudimentary understanding of the English language support your publicly-broadcasted mischaracterization of Ms. Hanelt’s observation. But the damage is now done. A gentleman would offer her an apology in the same forum in which the slight was given.
Yours Very Sincerely,
Philip Williams, Of Counsel
707.433.4842, ext. 1102
141 North Street, Suite A
Healdsburg, CA 95448
ED NOTE: Mr. Williams is a lawyer the District hired (through the state as part of the planning grant) to negotiate and prepare the formal contracts with the well owners that are expected to be water sources in the planned water system.
OVER THE MOON
THE YEAR I GREW UP
by Hannah Brock
To most adults who I interact with, I am “very young.”
But for some reason, I feel like I’ve already lived a thousand lifetimes. I just feel old. Things are hurting already. Ha!
In 2019, I turned 26 – on February 26th. Since it was the fabled “golden birthday” dubbed by fellow millennials as something to revel in, I immediately thought it would be the year something drastic would happen. Indeed it did, just not as I had planned.
In the summer, my grandmother passed away, which was incredibly difficult for my family, and my Dad, who lost his mom. On a Sunday morning in September, I found myself sobbing at the altar reciting the eulogy in front of 50 close friends and family that I must have practiced some two hundred times, but was forced to read off the paper at that moment:
“…Today, I encourage you not to mourn so much as to give and be kind. Share [her] light back into the world. I think the best way to celebrate someone’s life is to continue practicing all the qualities you loved about them. Be kind, love endlessly, forgive, smile, and laugh. And most importantly, … be good to yourself.” Be good to yourself was one of the last things my late grandfather told me before he passed.
Most of my life I’ve practiced being a confident atheist, but this year I really found myself becoming spiritual. At the altar I felt warm beams of light, like Nana’s soft white curls that hung in a perfect bob around her face. Like certain songs you listen to that bring you to tears, that light was curling and sparkling down from the ceiling of the church, trickling down to grace my shoulders and warm my cheeks. There was no light, just a sudden realization; an epiphany maybe – it all felt like something otherworldly.
The warmth of long missed family, older sisters and far away grandmothers held over through the next week. It felt so calm. Driving back from the celebration of life I felt light. Family is eternal.
A new coworker turned best friend had lit up my life in the last 8 months, and she brought something long lost to the table: confidence. Through her, I remembered who I was. What I loved. What I didn’t love. I began to speak up more. To believe in myself. The magic of confidence in any situation is grounding. It changed so many aspects of my life it’s hard to describe it all. Ultimately she saved me from the shallow shell of the life I could have lived and reminded me of the life I could obtain if I really invested in my dreams. Confidence changes everything. A good friend can save your life.
Lastly, I started practicing manifestation/visualization of my goals and dreams. Now, bear with me here. Every day at work I would take a walk during my lunch. Listen to my favorite songs, and play in my mind what it would feel like to achieve my goals. Becoming financially independent – debt free – travel – enjoy life a little more. I did it every day, and then… it just started happening. My life started happening, the way I envisioned it. Every little detail. I left no room for doubt, I only filled in the gaps with immense gratitude for the progress made thus far and the privileges I had been given. And that was the formula for success. I’m snowballing towards my big goal of being debt free in July 2020, but the real progress started happening when I started believing that it could be no other way. Gratitude manifests blessings.
And here I am, soaring high on the endorphins of what it feels like to truly be happy and excited for life. I am so in love with every little piece of it right now. There’s always issues, there’s always set backs, there’s always emergencies – but my life is one big freaking miracle that I am ridiculously grateful for.
So, there you have it.
Be good to yourself.
Family is eternal.
Confidence changes everything.
A good friend can save your life.
Gratitude manifests blessings.
My formula for happiness.
2019 was the year I grew up – the year I accepted “set backs” as lessons, the year I spoke up for myself, the year I set aside more time for family, the year I found gratitude for things I hated. The year I realized it’s the little things – not some big earth shattering revelation – that really matter most. I hope you take some advice from this millennial – I think by now, I know a thing or two.
ANOTHER NARCAN SAVE
On Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 4:16 PM, a Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Deputy was on routine patrol in Ukiah. While driving in the 100 block of North Orchard Avenue, the Deputy was flagged down by a motorist who was parked in the roadway and obstructing traffic. Upon contacting the motorist, the Deputy was told that there was an adult male laying on the sidewalk that was unresponsive and appeared to be in need of medical aid. The Deputy immediately radioed a request for medical responders and began providing first responder treatment to the unidentified adult male. The Deputy quickly determined the adult male would not respond to verbal commands or nerve stimulus application techniques. Believing the adult male was having an opioid overdose related event, the Deputy administered one (1) 4 milligram dosage units of NARCAN to the adult male.
The adult male immediately responded to the opioid antidote medication and began to awaken. Fire Department and ambulance personnel arrived and took over further scene related medical treatment before transporting the adult male to the Ukiah Valley Medical Center.
In April 2019 the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) began to issue NARCAN® (Naloxone HCI) nasal spray dosage units to its employees as part of their assigned personal protective equipment. MCSO's goal is in protecting the public and officers from opioid overdoses. Access to naloxone is now considered vital in the U.S. The Center for Disease Control. The California Opioid Overdose Surveillance Dashboard reports Mendocino County ranking, per capita, 3rd in all opioid overdose deaths. (https://discovery.cdph.ca.gov/CDIC/ODdash/) Narcan nasal spray units are widely known to reverse opioid overdose situations in adults and children. Each nasal spray device contains a four milligram dose, according to the manufacturer. Naloxone Hydrochloride, more commonly known by the brand name NARCAN®, blocks the life-threatening effects of opioid overdose (both medications and narcotics) including extreme drowsiness, slowed breathing, or loss of consciousness. The antidote can reverse the effects of an overdose for up to an hour, but anyone who administers the overdose reversal medication in a non-medical setting is advised to seek emergency medical help right away. The spray units can also be used by Public Safety Professionals who are unknowingly or accidentally exposed to potentially fatal amounts of fentanyl from skin absorption or inhalation. The issuance of the Narcan nasal units, thus far, have been to employees assigned to the Field Services Division and the Mendocino County Jail medical staff. Employees are required to attend user training prior to being issued the medication. Sheriff Matthew C. Kendall would like to thank the Mendocino County HHSA Public Health for providing the Narcan nasal units to the Sheriff's Office free of charge as part of the Free Narcan Grant from the California Department of Public Health. Since the April 2019 issuance, there have been three separate situations wherein Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Patrol Deputies have administered Narcan and saved the lives of three people in need of the life saving antidote medication.
COMMUNITY FOUNDATION ACCEPTING GRANT PROPOSALS from Local Organizations
2020 Field-of-Interest Grant Program
Guidelines and Application Now Available
Ukiah, CA – The Community Foundation of Mendocino County is pleased to announce $67,500 in available funding from its Field-of-Interest grant program. Field-of-Interest funds are established to make grants in specified areas of interest (e.g., the environment or human services), or specified geographical areas, or both. Non-profit organizations from throughout Mendocino County are invited to submit proposals online by January 31, 2020 by 5:00 p.m.
Grants will be available from 10 different Field-of-Interest funds thanks to the A.D. Abramson Endowment Fund for the Visual Arts, the Blood Bank of the Redwoods Legacy Fund, the Charles F. Flinn and Walker B.Tilley Fund for Sustainable Forestry, the Environmental Education & Conservation Fund, the Fraeda Dubin & Pat Denny Endowment Funds, the Haigh-Scatena Youth Leadership, Empowerment, and Advocacy Fund, the John and Sandra Mayfield Family Economic Development Fund, the Judy Pruden Historical Preservation Fund, the ReLeaf Tree Planting Fund, and the Textile and Fiber Arts Fund.
Available funding includes:
- A.D. Abramson Endowment Fund for the Visual Arts: total $8,000; grant range $2,500 -$8,000.
- Blood Bank of the Redwoods Legacy Fund: total $14,000; grant range $500-$5,000
- Charles B. Flinn and Walker B. Tilley Fund for Sustainable Forestry: total $4,000; grant range $500-$4,000
- Environmental Education and Conservation Fund: total $10,000; grant range $1,000-$5,000
- Fraeda Dubin and Pat Denny Endowment Funds: total $7,000; grant range $500-$7,000
- Haigh-Scatena Youth Leadership, Empowerment, and Advocacy Fund: total $1,500; grant range $500-$1,500
- John and Sandra Mayfield Family Economic Development Fund: total $10,000; grant range $5,000-$10,000
- Judy Pruden Historical Preservation Fund: total $2,000; grant range $500-$2,000
- ReLeaf Tree Planting Fund total $8,000; grant range $1,000-$8,000
- Textile and Fiber Arts Fund: total $3,000; grant range $500-$3,000
Guidelines and a link to the online application are available at www.communityfound.org. Questions about eligibility, guidelines or the application may be directed to Allison Findley, Program Officer, at (707) 468-9882 x103.
Field-of-Interest funds are created with a specific area of interest in mind, but anyone can contribute to these funds. You can join with others who have a shared passion to help your giving go further together. In addition to the ten funds accepting applications now, there are many more Field-of-Interest funds to choose from, representing diverse areas of interest such as the arts, providing basic needs, and promoting animal welfare.
For more information about applying to the Field-of Interest grant program or about how you can make a gift to any of the Field-of-Interest funds, visit www.communityfound.org.
OCEAN BEACH (San Francisco) with Seal Rocks and the Cliff House in the background.
FROM FORT BRAGG CALIFORNIA CURRENT EVENTS (a facebook page):
"This morning at 9:30 am I was driving under the Noyo River bridge towards the jetty as a woman proceeded to take a shit in the middle grass patch that separates the parking lot!
In broad daylight.
Plenty of other people around to witness it.
My question is how far does this have to go before something is done about the homeless tweakers roaming the streets of Fort Bragg?
The same very streets that 15 years ago my parents didn’t have to worry about locking the doors to the house or cars. The same streets that they felt comfortable letting us kids walk to each other's houses after dark at 12-years-old.
It disgusts me. I don’t want to raise a child in this environment our small beautiful community is being turned into a shit hole."
And, of course, this brought a torrent of replies:
"It's disgusting down there."
"It's too bad that more people don't speak out about this. I think most have given up all hope of anything ever being done because there are so many who believe the taxpayer owes those doing these things free food, free shelter and whatever else comes "free". Let's not forget nothing is free, someone is paying for it. I don't like seeing anyone hungry or cold but there has to be a line drawn somewhere. Free tickets home for those who are not local would free up services for the locals."
"There is a sign up that says no overnight camping. There has been the same 3 vehicles down there for months."
"Fort Bragg isn't the same little nice town I moved to 20 years ago. It is filthy, scary to go anywhere after dark, have to lock your cars to go into the store. Unable to leave for 10 minutes to eat with your clothes at the laundromat. I am glad I moved out of there and into a nice little quite town in the mountains in November.
"Often at the Wiggly Giggly Park all 4 bathroom units are occupied by adults washing, bathing and drying themselves for extended times while little kids are waiting to NOT Pee or poop their pants. But the folks inside cuss and yell out rude profanities if we knock on doors."
MAYOR WILL LEE-- "Over 70% of our police work deals with homelessness and mental illness. There aren’t enough mental hospital beds to accommodate the numbers out there. All very complex issues and requires all of us to find solutions. Call the cops when you witness outrageous behaviors in our town."
CITY COUNCILOR LINDY PETERS-- "Obviously this person has mental health issues. Probably familiar to our police too. The best you can do is call it in to the FBPD and let them take it from there. If you see something, say something, but let the PD sort it out. They can’t be everywhere. This type of problem is happening all over California not just Fort Bragg. This behavior is unacceptable. The City tries to discourage it. We enforce the laws as best we can."
"Get your lazy asses on observation mode, cameras are cheap and you all have plenty of busy-body time on your hands… the biggest issue here, to me, is the complainer didn’t even say anything to this woman???? What the ??? The whole town is up in arms and the pooper roams… blissfully unaware. Shocked??? Just keep dealing with things on a social media site, whilst the meek indeed inherit the earth."
"Many of the 'lazy asses' you speak of are employed people simply out for a ride to enjoy the area during some time off such as the person who started this thread. It's a sad day when you have to approach an adult and tell them it's not ok to shit in public. I don't think anyone is shocked any longer."
"Actually, now that I think about it I would have just shouted from my car….she’s nuts and may throw poop!"
REMEMBERING CHESTER ARTHUR BURNETT (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976), the legendary Howlin' Wolf.
SUPERVISOR TED WILLIAMS, Friday afternoon:
I attended a Fire & EMS Sustainability Ad Hoc meeting in Anderson Valley this morning with Supervisor McCowen dialing in. We'll offer an update at the Jan 21 BoS meeting. Dave Roderick (Hopland FPD), Chief Andres Avila (Anderson Valley), Chief Sue Scarberry (Laytonville), Tony Orth (Brooktrails Township CSD) and Michael Schaeffer (Comptche CSD) shared concerns and suggested direction. Where Supervisor McCowen and I have opposing ideas, I might bring action items independently, but we'll do our best to present an update in unity. I believe it's time to set expectations, either that we'll make hard decisions and change course or leave status quo unchanged. No matter where you stand on EMS relative to other needs, this will be a good meeting to attend.
A RIOT IN WESTPORT, 1882
by David Heller
On May 6th of 1882 the Chinese Exclusion Act was signed by the President having been passed by the US Congress. This was the first U.S. immigration law to exclude an entire ethnic group. It prevented Chinese laborers from immigrating to the United States and denied those here the possibility of American citizenship. Fanned by an anti-Chinese press, resentment against the Chinese continued to grow, despite their economic “usefulness” as menials and cheap laborers.
In July of 1882, a few weeks after a group described as “worthless loafers” formed an armed mob and forced Chinese mill workers to leave their jobs near the town of Westport, the most detailed account of the incident appeared in the Ferndale Enterprise.
After marching the Chinese millworkers south, the mob retreated to their headquarters in Westport saloons. When offered the jobs “at white man wages” that the Chinese were forced to vacate, the rowdies declined to take the jobs.
By 1889 there were at least six saloons in Westport. To state the obvious, alcohol was the drug of choice back in the day. One news article decrying the tax on whiskey stated that in 1860 there were 90 million gallons of whiskey consumed in America by a population of some 30 million. The latest issue of National Geographic confirmed these three gallons per capita alcohol statistics which do not take into account for more than half of the population being mostly non-drinking women and children. One newspaper article from this time period asked the question “Are We A Drunkard Nation?” The influence of ubiquitous alcohol consumption on history finds a clear example in the following article.
PBS also did a fine series presentation on THE CHINESE EXCLUSION ACT that may be of some interest.
“WEST COAST TELEPHONE, July 29, 1882
“Finally, after a lapse of two weeks since the riot at Westport, Mendocino county, the Dispatch-Democrat brings particulars of the shameful affair. It seems that for some weeks previous to the demonstration a crowd of strangers has been gathering at Westport, where secret meetings were held. It finally developed that the real intention was to drive off the Chinese employees in the mills. On the night of the 9th, according to the paper above quoted, the gang, numbering 25 or 30 men, all armed with Winchester rifles or 6-shooters, proceeded to the Wedges [sic, Wages] Creek mills owned by McPhee, Gordon & Gill, and Graham & Com., and after gathering all the Chinamen employed drove them in a body down the coast to a point below Kibesillah, where they were turned loose and warned not to return. The nature of the mob may be judged of by the following from the Dispatch-Democrat:
“This action practically closed the mills, as the loss of the Chinamen reduced the number of laborers to such an extent as to render it impossible to close down, the mill owners then offered the rioters the places which had previously been filled by Chinamen, at largely advanced rates, but one and all declined to work and have since spent their time in drinking, carousing and offering indignities and threats to all who do not endorse their unlawful proceedings. The closing of the mills would be a great loss to the people of that neighborhood, and benefits a number of citizens, on Saturday, went down the coast and gathered together a large portion of the evicted Mongolians and escorted them back to the mills, where they now are, armed and ready for any emergency. We learn that no serious damage has been done beyond the stopping of the mills. One Chinaman had his queue cut off by one of the mob, and another one was robbed of orders amounting to about fifty dollars.
“A healthy state of affairs, to be sure. The gang of lazy rowdies who would not work themselves or allow the Chinamen to work, made Erickson’s saloon their head quarters, drinking, carousing and threatening destruction to life and property. There is no shadow of excuse for such cowardly doings, and we are glad to read that the mill-owners had determined not to be longer dictated to by them, but had armed the Chinamen and set them to work again. At last accounts Sheriff Donohue had lodged a number of the ringleaders in the Ukiah jail. At any point on the Mendocino coast there is labor for all the white men and Chinamen that offer, but these fellows are not looking for employment, and not willing to let men who desire to do so earn an honest livelihood. If white men were crowded out of working positions the case would be different. As it is we hope the Mendocino millmen will maintain their present attitude to the last, and the ringleaders in this disgraceful riot will be provided with work inside the wall of the State institution at San Quentin.”
CASHIERS LINE UP at the Piggly Wiggly in Encino, 1962.
A READER WRITES: I'm going through the process of renewing my U.S. passport, and came across the following passage on "Acts or Conditions" (note the final paragraph):
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS AND EMERGENCIES: This Sunday At Lauren’s Restaurant In Boonville, 4-5:30pm. Refreshments provided.
NEW APARTMENTS ON MAIN STREET READY FOR TENANTS
More than 30 new market-rate homes have been completed and are ready for tenants on North Main Street in Ukiah.
FEBRUARY FEATURED ARTIST AT EDGEWATER GALLERY
Event: Marta Alonso Canillar Show Opening First Friday at Edgewater Gallery
When: Friday, February 7, from 5-8pm
Where: Edgewater Gallery at 356 N. Main Street in Fort Bragg
Light refreshments served. Admission is free. Marta will do a brief presentation about her work at 6pm.
Marta's new direction is painting commissioned murals in acrylics for outdoor display. In her show, you will see a smaller version prototype of one of her murals. Her intensely vivid colors and unique compositions reflect her Spanish heritage.
THE LOCAL ANGLE
PTSD and the bike lobby
In Tuesday's San Francisco Examiner:
A duo that is notorious in transit and bicycling circles for efforts to block local bike lane projects is back in action. Attorney Mary Miles and car advocate Rob Anderson, who successfully tied up city bike lane plans for years with litigation, have filed an environmental challenge to the Page Street Bikeway Pilot that could potentially delay the project (They’re back: Frequent bike lane foes challenge Page Street project, Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez).
THE LOCAL ANGLE. Former AVA staffer Rob Anderson, and former AVA cartoonist Mary Miles of Potter Valley, have teamed up to bedevil Frisco bicyclists, successfully suing The City to stop expansion of bike lanes, some of them anyway. Ms. Miles is now an attorney and a good one, it seems, having defeated San Francisco's city lawyers.
FROM THE AVA’S ‘THE MORE THINGS CHANGE…” DEPARTMENT
Alternate Realities At Coast Hospital
by Mark Scaramella (July 2005)
There are two dramatically different views of the Mendocino Coast District Hospital’s financial problems. The administration, lead by CEO Bryan Ballard says that it is operating too many “money losing” programs and that if the District’s residents won’t tax themselves to the tune of $96/parcel to fill the gap, the Hospital will be forced to cut several essential hospital services.
The other view is that the Hospital Board, under the thumb of their high-paid CEO, are running the District into the ground by hiring too many expensive specialists, failing to insure that billings are done effectively, proposing cuts which will not help, and might make matters worse, and using numbers which don’t accurately reflect the district’s true financial situation for their rushed decision-making.
Critics also note that Hospital administration and the Board have mysteriously neglected to include “hospital administration” itself on its list of “money losers” which must be cut.
Another little noticed aspect of recruiting specialists is the practice of giving newly hired doctors “free” perks like transitional motel/hotel/B&B stays and meals at tony local restaurants, etc. In other words, the hospital gives hard-to-come-by money to the local innkeepers who support the hospital — a quid pro quo that ends up costing the hospital even more.
After the defeat of Measure R, the $96/parcel tax measure, last month, Hospital administration and the board are finally being forced to deal with the small hospital’s financial crisis. The small Coastal hospital provides a broad range of medical services to the residents of the Northwest Corner of the County as well as many South Coast residents and many in Deepend of Anderson Valley. It also serves a number of “out of district” patients for certain medical procedures.
Several people in Fort Bragg have told us privately that the Hospital’s sales pitch for Measure R bordered on a threat — which a significant number of people took as an empty threat — and voted against Measure R out of spite, not because they don’t support their hospital.
The Hospital says it’s losing $1.2 to $1.5 million per year — and a staggering half a million dollars a month since May — and must cut “money losing” programs to avoid being financially unsustainable in 12 to 24 months.
Ballard says that the huge loss in May was “an unpredictable blip — just very low activity, surgery, and admissions.” Ballard added that June was looking similarly bad, calling both months “a deviation.” Ballard didn’t mention that since the Hospital’s financial difficulties began, more and more patients are moving inland either because the Hospital’s underfunded facilities are not suited to the patient or because some doctors prefer to shift their patients inland.
Both before and after the failure of Measure R, there have been several long articles in the Fort Bragg chain paper which faithfully reported the position of the Hospital Administration, without the slightest hint of skepticism, critical analysis or alternative views of the situation.
On Tuesday, July 5th, the Hospital’s planning committee met in public session to discuss what is to be done. It was heavily attended by up to 50 hospital staff and interested community members and got a fair amount of local publicity.
On July 6th, however, a second — and unpublicized meeting — of the medical staff also addressed the District’s grim financial condition. That meeting has not received any publicity.
Much of the blame for the District’s financial crisis is being placed on five “cost centers” that Administration says are losing significant amounts of money. The administration claims, without providing numbers to back it up, that the overhead at MCDH is lower than any other hospital of its size in California, but that MediCal and MediCare payments are not covering the costs of providing services to patients.
In both meetings last week, the hospital board and the administration (primarily in the form of their $150k/year CEO), acting in concert, presented four possible plans for dealing with the crisis.
The first plan involved cutting services that are “losing money,” including the ambulance service, occupational medicine, Caring for Women (primarily pre-natal services and the inpatient obstetric/nursery service), abortion services for “out of area” women, hospice, and the “hospitalist” service. (Hospitalists are doctors who are in charge of daily medical operations at the hospital, making sure that patients are properly seen, monitored and treated and released as soon as they are ready.)
The second possibility discussed was conversion to a Critical Access Hospital (CAH).
The third, more drastic option, was sale of the hospital to a chain such as Sutter, Adventist Health Systems, or Catholic Health Systems.
The fourth possibility was to look at increasing revenue, for instance, another ballot measure or a sales tax of some kind.
Although not explicitly listed, another area being mentioned is the Hospital’s “swing beds.” Swing beds are the ones where people who require continued hospitalization are held for recuperation while they’re monitored to make sure they’re really recovering. Some people think the swing facility could be converted or farmed out to a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF). Shifting the swing beds to a skilled nursing facility might bring the Hospital down to the number of beds which would qualify it for a “Critical Access Hospital” status.
The Tuesday public planning meeting was especially somber as the board discussed the need for cuts and emphasized the desperate financial straits the hospital is in. Many in the room were in tears as the board pounded home their view that the situation was nearly hopeless. The board felt that the community “was not passionate about the hospital” which provoked an emotional outburst from one audience member. That meeting is available on video from MCCET coastal cable access and is being covered in some depth in the Fort Bragg Advocate-News.
The Wednesday meeting with the medical staff was also intense. CEO Ballard opened by reprising the points made at the planning meeting the night before and then opened the floor for discussion of the response to the financial crisis.
Before the discussion began, Dr. Vicki Soloniuk, a pediatrician who practiced in Fort Bragg previously and is hoping to return to the community, stated that she had been talking with a number of community members and that there was not only a financial crisis, but a crisis of confidence in the board and in hospital administration. This statement was seconded by several of the other physicians in attendance. Board Chair Charlene McAllister responded with her usual “don’t blame me” attitude: “I can’t help what the community thinks.”
Of course she can. And does.
The long-overdue medical staff discussion on Wednesday produced a number of good points that should have been discussed with the Board long ago. Board Chair McAllister’s claims that somehow the Brown Act prevented the board from having meetings with the medical staff were viewed very skeptically.
In discussing programs to be cut, concerns were raised about the effect the cuts would have on the coastal community.
The District’s ambulance service is vitally important to the Coast and to much of Anderson Valley. In addition to providing ambulance services and transport, the EMTs and paramedics also work in the hospital between calls, drawing blood, starting IVs, transporting patients to and from radiology, helping with registration, and more, thus greatly increasing efficiency and decreasing hospital personnel costs.
Ballard and the Board are considering spinning the Ambulance off to a separate Ambulance district, or even selling it to a private inland ambulance company. Medical staff noted that an outside agency would be much less responsive to county or district concerns. The Ambulance EMTs who are experienced and understand Mendocino County’s medical needs and its history would likely be replaced by cheaper, inexperienced EMTs. In addition, one hospital board member commented that if the decision is made to terminate the ambulance service, Ballard would immediately give 90 days notice to the County and terminate the service abruptly on the 90th day. It is unlikely that the County could have another service in place in that period of time, leaving the Coast and some inland areas such as western Anderson Valley uncovered by a hospital ambulance service.
Options for increasing funding of the ambulance services were discussed.
The medical staff on hand noted that billing for ambulance services, like hospital billing in general, is inefficient and could be optimized. The hospital needs to be more aggressive in pursuing payments from government agencies, insurance companies and private parties who have the ability to pay. In addition, a review of billing — perhaps by one of the senior clinic administrators in the County — could identify ways to increase the levels of reimbursements the ambulance service now gets.
There was also discussion of a parcel tax for only the ambulance service. At the Tuesday night meeting, the board said they would need $96/parcel to cover the Ambulance’s financial shortfall. However, those figures were questioned since Measure R itself was for $96/parcel. The Board then changed the Ambulance parcel tax estimate to $26/parcel. One board member objected to a parcel tax only for the ambulance stating that then the Hospital would be unable to go back for more money later if it was needed.
“It’s regrettable that a stellar program like the Ambulance would have to be cut,” said Ballard, “but we are getting inadequate funding from the feds and the state.”
There was some discussion of Occupational Medicine which is also said to be losing money. For now, Ballard seems to want to retain it, but the medical staff seems willing to let Occupational Medicine go completely or at least be transferred to a private provider.
Obstetrical care was said to be a big money loser, also. But again the medical staff believes that the hospital’s billing and management problems are big contributors to the problem. There was also a great deal of concern expressed about the safety of pregnant women if there was no prenatal or obstetrical care available in the area. From Fort Bragg or Mendocino, it can be over on hour on winding mountainous roads to the next nearest obstetrics unit in Willits. Pregnant women would then show up at the Emergency Room in labor or with complications of pregnancy that would have to be dealt with in the Emergency Room which may not be prepared for such problems. Once a woman is in active labor, hospital regulations make it very hard to transfer her. One bad outcome could result in a lawsuit that would wipe out all the supposed savings from closing the obstetrical unit.
Solutions for keeping prenatal care in the community were discussed. It was suggested that Mendocino Coast Clinics might be interested, though Dr. Brent Wright, the obstetrician on staff at MCDH, told his colleagues that the Clinic was not interested when he approached them in 2003.
Out of area abortion procedures, aka “TABs,” were also vigorously discussed, according to several attendees. Dr. Eric Gutnick, a local gynecologist who is a member of the planning committee, told the group that Coast Hospital was the only local provider of abortion services, adding that he had asked Chief Financial Officer Jacob Lewis for figures supporting the (inflated) loss numbers initially presented two weeks ago and had not yet received them. Lewis finally gave some figures to Dr. Gutnick half-way through the Wednesday staff meeting, but Dr. Gutnick took one look at them and saw that they were uninterpretable and did not contain data which addressed his questions about costs. Dr. Gutnick further stated that CEO Ballard’s figure of 90% of TABs being women from “out of area” was simply wrong. Mr. Ballard agreed that he had misread the numbers. Dr. Gutnick stated that it was closer to 50% and that most of those were women who lived in Mendocino County, not “out of the area.”
Without good numbers on the out of area abortion procedures, it was difficult to make good suggestions. In fact, good numbers are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain for all the so-called money-losing areas being discussed.
TABs are part of the surgery department — an area which, by most accounts, is making money. However, Dr. Keevan Abramson, the local gynecologist, pointed out that often the operating room (OR) staff, who are required to be on duty full-time by law, would be doing nothing many times if the TABs weren’t scheduled. Surgeon salaries will not decrease if TABs are not done. There was also concern that the hospital is targeting women’s services, especially services for poor women. The medical staff also felt strongly that the administration should not be targeting specific procedures, because if they get rid of one, they might decide that there are other procedures they would rather not do and where would it end?
Some observers think that although out-of-district abortion services may lose money in a narrow sense, they are a way to bring in new families/patients who end up using the hospital for other more reimbursable services at a later time. According to them, cutting abortion services will end up costing money because fewer patients will be attracted to the already under-utilized hospital.
Dr. Gutnick also raised the issue of the legality of doing procedures for some patients while turning others away. He said that Mr. Ballard had told him that a lawyer had said it was legal but Ballard would not say which lawyer or what law allowed it. The medical staff felt that it was likely to be illegal and, if not, it would still be unethical to treat some patients and exclude others.
Hospice care was discussed only briefly on Wednesday. The comments were limited to expressions of shock that — yet again — the services were not billed for, as MediCare will certainly pay for them. On both nights, the response of the board and the administration — i.e., Ballard — was, “We will look into that.”
The hospitalist service was discussed more thoroughly on Wednesday. Prior to relatively recent initiation of the hospitalist service which provides for a dedicated (not scheduled in the office) on-call/on-premises physician to deal with all adult inpatient medical admissions, nurses would often spend hours on the phone trying to find out who was on call to admit adult patients and patients would sometimes go for more than a day without being seen by a doctor, thus increasing nursing costs and making the hospital unable to bill for those inpatient days on which the patient was not seen. In addition, patients often stayed longer than they needed to. Since the hospital is paid by diagnosis rather than per day for acute admissions, the hospital was losing money on that, too, as stays stretched out but reimbursements were fixed.
Last year, when the hospitalist concept was first implemented, Ballard said it would save a lot more than it cost. Now Ballard says he no longer thinks that the hospitalists are saving money, calling his previous remarks “probably in error.” But the hospitalist position is certainly important to patients as they are seen more quickly, the nurses have their questions answered quickly, and, if there is an emergency, the physician can respond immediately rather than having to finish with the patient he is seeing before coming to the hospital.
The consensus of the medical staff is that cutting any of the hospitalist positions is a false economy — each hospitalist (there are four on staff) is worth much more than the $5K/month the hospital is paying for it. Without it/them, many of the physicians in town would be reluctant to keep admitting their patients at Coast Hospital and the hospital’s costs would again go up. The medical staff further believes that the hospitalist position is being targeted solely because of personal animosity on the part of Bryan Ballard toward one of the physicians who acts in that capacity. (Rumor has it that hospitalist/physician Dr. Sacks-Wilner, another well-respected coast physician, is on Ballard’s shit list because he has a tendency to speak his mind.)
Another possibility discussed was conversion to Critical Access Hospital (CAH) along the lines of Howard Memorial in Willits. Critical Access Hospitals were created in the late 90s to improve rural hospital access and to decrease rural hospital closures. CAH’s qualify for higher reimbursement rates, particularly from MediCare. The information presented by the board and the administration so far has seemed negative, with the implication that CAH status would result in fewer beds for them to administer. But the medical staff seems favorably disposed. When CAH was being discussed at the Wednesday medical staff meeting, Board Chair McAllister said she didn’t have much information on this option — an amazing admission given the hospital’s financial problems.
Dr. William Bowen, a senior orthopedic surgeon at Howard Memorial, a CAH in Willits, is very familiar with the CAH concept. Dr. Bowen was invited to be present at the Wednesday medical staff meeting to discuss this option based on Howard Hospital’s experience. Howard Memorial’s CAH is managed by Adventist Health, as is the much bigger Ukiah Valley Medical Center in Ukiah.
The medical staff’s many questions were calmly answered by Dr. Bowen giving the staff even more interest in the idea. Bowen told the group what they intuitively already knew: studies show adverse outcomes increase in financially strapped hospitals — which is part of the reason certain patients and doctors are choosing to go to inland hospitals rather than risk admission at the cash-strapped Coast Hospital. After Dr. Bowen left, the medical staff suggested that the board look into Critical Access status quickly rather than waiting until after any major cuts as the Administration seems ready to make.
Sale of the hospital was also discussed by the medical staff. Some doctors and nurses said they were concerned about whether an entity outside the community would be as responsive to the needs of the community as a local board. This position, however, falsely assumes that the District’s board was responsible to anyone but CEO Ballard as it is.
Dr. Bowen, who is widely respected by the medical profession in Mendocino County, said that Howard has had no problems with being affiliated with Adventist Health Services. He also said that any such option would require that the District shop around and be very specific about what the hospital and the community need and want before putting the place up for sale.
The medical staff again urged that sale of the hospital be investigated before making any drastic early cuts as the board intends.
Increasing hospital revenue and access to cash was also discussed. Suggestions including cutting something serious like the ambulance service then going back to the community for a parcel tax that would pass because they would know the board was serious about cutting essential services in the wake of the parcel tax failure. Several physicians at the Wednesday staff meeting suggested that threats of cutting essential services were not a good idea and might further alienate the community or be perceived as a kind of extortion. Others on hand argued that these were not threats but facts and a vigorous discussion ensued.
Several staffers noted that Coast Hospital’s charges are low in comparison with other similar sized hospitals and a suggestion was made to simply raise the charges which in turn would increase percentage-based reimbursements. The medical staff also asked about how much help the Hospital’s fundraising foundation could help.
More than one medical staffer at the Wednesday meeting noticed that someone had brought a case or more of expensive wine, wondering, If the hospital is so broke, why were there so many bottles of wine at the staff meeting? Maybe Ballard thought the wine would lubricate the conversation, maybe the wine was donated — but nobody knew who would donate several hundred dollars worth of wine for a doctors’ confab.
It is frustrating for many members of the Hospital’s medical staff that the Administration can’t provide them with the proper financial information to evaluate which cuts should be made or how the cuts should be. And, if, as is widely believed, the Hospital isn’t billing for things like hospice services and support, they think the Administration should not make any permanent or large cuts until they tighten up the billing and give the staff good numbers.
In addition, Administration has only now started listening to its top medical staff who think that a CAH like Willits would be help a lot more than making the large permanent cuts administration is currently planning.
And if, as Board member Don Tucker says, “Nothing is off the table at this point. Every suggestion deserves a further look,” then the Board and Administration should 1. prove to the staff and the public that they’re managing the hospital properly, and 2. put their own administrative costs and the expansion project over-runs onto the table before they cut any essential medical services.
There will be another Board planning meeting on July 19 at 5:30 in the new hospital addition. It is open to the public.
The District’s “restructuring committee” plans to bring its financial recommendations, with an implementation time line, to the August 25th board meeting.
CATCH OF THE DAY, January 10, 2020
JOHNNY CASTANEDA, Redwood Valley. DUI-bicycle.
CHRISTINE COOK, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
JONATHON DELBELLO, Willits. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
TRENT FOSTER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
THOMAS GALINDO, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
RONALD LAMBERT, Willits. Failure to appear.
JOSEPH LOPEZ, Ukiah. DUI.
BEVERLY MARES, Marysville/Redwood Valley. DUI-alcohol&drugs.
PETER ROSE JR., Point Arena. Burglary.
Our nation has more than 550,000 homeless people. Of them, 130,000, or 23%, live in California. If the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is forcing California to carry the burden of the nation’s social safety net — housing, mental health services, job training, medical care — we need money to cover the extraordinary burden on our state and local budgets.
Average citizens have lost access to public space and funding for local programs and live in social unease. California has a housing shortage. It is extremely expensive to build here. From the supervisors’ plan, it seems $12 million creates 160 beds; that’s $75,000 per bed to house 5.4% of the 3,000 unhoused. The average U.S. salary is around $56,000 per year. The federal government needs to give California money to address homelessness, and housing the homeless needs to be addressed nationally.
With a $3,000 subsidy, one could rent a studio apartment for six months in Alabama, Ohio or Michigan. For $9 million, you could offer a six-month, $3,000 housing subsidy for all of Sonoma County’s 3,000 homeless residents. In many states, you can buy a mobile home for under $50,000.
To solve homelessness, we need national solutions.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
HOMELESSNESS: I believe Martin v. Boise requires that they be offered a place to sleep. It seems there are many laws from zoning (i.e. the JRT is not zoned for camping, open fires, etc) to "no day camping" to "no use of tent outside designated campgrounds" which the BOS could enforce. I think the real issue is that jail is expensive and doesn't solve the problem. They should set up camp grounds, start processing people and determine where they should go. If a person has a job, help them find housing and give a housing subsidy. If a person is mentally ill, get them into a stable, mental services environment. If they are on parole, they need transitional housing. All of this should be tracked in a state or 9th circuit database so government officials can see A) what causes homelessness, B) what services are needed and C) who has received what in terms of tax-payer funded services. In that way, someone can't turn around and sue because they've either been offered and/or received service and it's been documented. In addition, I would suspect that a certain portion living on the JRT already receive benefits whether it be SSI, disability or unemployment. In a sanctioned camp, a counselor could assess what money the person already receives and if they could potentially afford their own housing in a shared-house, an official campsite or RV park or in a less expensive area. The real issue is that California and the other 9th Circuits states are being forced to provide a social safety net for the country. 25% of the nation's homeless live in California. In Sonoma County, there are 3,000 homeless people. In comparisons, there are 639 in the entire state of Wyoming. Wyoming's GDP is $34.4 billion. Sonoma County's $26.3 billion. In this scenario, when someone in Sonoma County pays their state and local taxes, a portion of it goes to provide social safety net services for the 3000 homeless people living in their county. A Sonoma County resident also pays federal taxes; federal programs are supposed to pay for the common social safety net. In this way, Californian's end up with a portion of their local taxes going towards programs which do not directly benefit them in the same way that funding for public schools, well-maintained parks, good roadways, public transportation creates a common community benefit. If we have to pay to service the needs of the country's homeless, we won't have money to run our state or our local governments. The ability to fund our infrastructure and public sphere is going to be impaired if we are also required to fund services for all the homeless people that live in California. The 9th circuit ruling does not have any financial limits on it; theoretically if every homeless person in the US moved to California, we'd be required to shelter them. That's going to drive a death nail into California's heart.
THE ENORMOUS PUBLIC RELATIONS INDUSTRY, from its origins early in this century, has been dedicated to the 'control of the public mind,' as business leaders described the task. And they acted on their words, surely one of the central themes of modern history.
—Noam Chomsky (1999)
POLITICS OF CLIMATE PRESENTATION
Dear Northcoast Citizens,
“I want clean air. I want clean water. I want the cleanest air, want the cleanest water. The environment is very important to me.” Such was the moronic claim made by President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday. As we head toward the 2020 election in the midst of Australian and Amazonian wildfires, and as Trump works to emasculate and throttle the EPA, the Clean Air Act and the Paris Climate Accords, we must ask ourselves, what are the political realities of the Climate crisis in this election year? What are the environmental fiascoes we could face with 4 more years of Trump, McConnell and the politics of ecocide. I am now offering a “Politics of Climate” presentation in addition to the Climate Reality project show I have been presenting for the past 15 months. The “Politics of Climate” talks about the history of environmentalism in the US, the breaking of the longtime consensus on National Parks and conservation during the Reagan administration, the hiding of increasing evidence of Climate Change by the fossil fuel industries, and the one-sided denialism of the Republican Party in the last decades. Exploration of the Green New Deal, Cap & Trade, and Carbon taxes are part of the presentation as are a quick look at various candidate’s platforms on Climate Change. The show is about an hour long and I will gladly come to your group to present. Please book me at email@example.com or on Facebook or at 415-613-4416. Go Mother Earth!