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Mendocino County Today: February 2, 2012

THE MENDOCINO Coast Recreation and Parks District Board has voted to close the CV Starr Aquatic Center pending a special election to fund it. The spiffy indoor pool and exercise facility opened in 2009. “The district does not have sufficient capital to continue operating the swimming pool,” said the Center's Executive Director Jim Hurst (who has been volunteering his time for months). Hurst said the complex has been running a deficit of $22,000 to $29,000 a month. Fort Bragg voters will decide on March 6 whether or not to approve a half-percent sales tax projected to generate some $700,000 to revive the Center. It will close on February 15th pending the election.

THAT 14-YEAR OLD Santa Rosa girl who died during a sleepover at her home last summer overdosed on GHB, part of a class of “date rape” drugs popular among young people at dance clubs and raves. Takeimi Rao died from drinking a fatal dose of Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid mixed in a soft drink. GHB is popular among the young and the dumb for its euphoric effect. It was classified as a food and dietary supplement and sold in health food stores in early 1990, according to government reports. Within the year it was deemed dangerous and banned for over-the-counter sales.

RESEARCH by scientists at Humboldt State University and the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) says the onset of sudden oak death in North Coast forests could help fuel forest fires. The non-native disease, which infested trees in the Bay Area in the mid-1990s, is found in 14 coastal counties in California, from Monterey to Humboldt. Sudden Oak Death thrives in the coastal climate, and has killed hundreds of thousands of tanoaks and true oaks in the last 15 years. Tanoak, which dies quickly from the disease, is one of the most flammable oaks in California. It is also the hottest burning hardwood in North America.

STATE CONTROLLER John Chiang said Tuesday that California will run out of cash by early March if the Legislature does not take immediate action. He recommends borrowing and delaying some payments in order to deal with the shortfall, which he projects will last seven weeks. Absent that kind of action, the State will have to issue IOUs and delay tax refunds. The controller said the nut of the problem is that the state is spending $2.6 billion more than was included in the budget while tax revenues are $2.6 billion below projections. Chiang said that leaders need to find $3.3 billion to bridge the seven-week period.

WORKERS at Kaiser Permanente throughout California have gone on strike over contract disputes involving Kaiser's mental health and optical employees. The National Union of Healthcare Workers says its 4,000 Kaiser employees are staging a 24-hour strike over proposed cuts to health care and retirement benefits. It's their fourth walkout since contract negotiations started in 2010. Union leaders say as many as 17,000 Kaiser nurses from the California Nurses Association could join the action in solidarity. The union represents mental health and optical employees at Kaiser. Kaiser officials say the union has failed to respond to their proposals on wages and benefits. All Kaiser hospitals and medical offices are expected to remain open during the strike, with Kaiser relying on replacement workers and nurse managers for additional staffing.

LEARN the secrets of Floodgate Farm Salad Mix: growing techniques and medicinal properties of the flavorful herbs, flowers and greens. These classes feature the late winter salad garden, and you will get some seeds for the planting season along with tasting the salad, a green smoothie and kim chi. $20 donation or work trade. You may bring something to share for potluck at the end of the Elk class and beginning of the Boonville class. Bill Taylor and Jaye Moscariello will teach both classes; Wendy Read may coteach on March 3. For more info call Bill or Jaye at 707-877-1668 or visit

THERE WAS money to build the pool

Everyone thought it would be cool

But funding operations

On only donations

Is bordering on being downright cruel

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