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Mendocino County Today: February 22, 2012

NCRA, the little train that couldn't, thought they had assemblymember Wes Chesbro lined up to introduce legislation to allocate $500k a year from state transportation funds. All Chesbro needed was a few letters to show local support for the request. NCRA asked the Mendocino Council of Governments (MCOG), the local transportation funding agency, for support, at which point both Phil Dow, MCOG's Executive Director, and Bruce Richard, the Mendocino Transit Agency's Executive Director, rushed to the funding barricades in opposition. Both Dow and Richard have made careers, and built their agencies, by sucking up as much taxpayer cash as they could lay their grasping hands on, but nothing concerns a state-funded bureaucrat than the thought that some other agency is trying to muscle in on their cash stream. Dow and Richard raised so much fuss about rail money going anywhere but to Richard's ghost buses that Ruth Valenzuela, Chesbro's local rep, told the MCOG board that Chesbro was no longer going to introduce the subsidy legislation requested by NCRA. It gets worse.....

MTA WAS JUST AWARDED $2.5 million to buy four brand new 39-seat buses — a bus for for every rider! MTA is famous for running big, empty buses all around the County (and little crowded ones on the Ukiah-Boonville-Gualala route) and now he'll have four new buses running around empty. The existing buses don't run on a schedule that could be used by working people (or much of anyone else, for that matter). MTA also runs a cab service, "Dial-a-Ride," in Ukiah and Fort Bragg, at a taxpayer subsidized cost of $15-$20 per passenger. Because the point of MTA is to secure government funded jobs for people like Richard rather than providing actual service to the public, MTA's Dial-a-Ride customers are often forced to wait an hour or more for a ride. By contrast Hey Taxi!, a private company based in Ukiah, offers rides in the Ukiah area for about $5 a pop, operates nights and weekends, and does so without any government subsidy. If MTA hired Hey Taxi! to provide the Dial-a-Ride services, they could do the job better and cheaper and provide better service to the passengers. MTA could still skim $5 a ride off the top to keep Richard employed doing whatever he does all day long.

GOVERNOR BROWN is rumored to be close to making one or more appointments to Mendocino County's two vacant superior court seats in Mendocino County. The finalists are David Basner, who has functioned as a Court magistrate for many years, hearing low level cases their fully-robed majesties can't be bothered with, David Reimenschneider, a Stanford graduate, former law partner of fellow Stanford grad Judge David Nelson, the latter a big player in the local Democratic Party, and County Counsel Jeannine Nadel. Nelson is said to be lobbying hard for his former law partner, and if Stanford is the criterion, why not Mike Sweeney? It would be hard for even the craftiest crook to get over on him, a man who has pulled off some spectacular felonies without a single arrest. Nadel, of course, has the locally crucial advantage of gender, which to the Mary Ann Villwock wing of the party where the worst woman is still better than the best man, that the Manson Girls would be better judges than Abe Lincoln, means Ms. Nadel is the only qualified candidate. (In real life,  Ms. Nadel, unlike much of Mendolib, is very smart and very pleasant, but so was my grandmother.) The real question is why Mendocino County, population 90,000 needs nine judges, especially when Mendo's politically uncomfortable and controversial cases are always handed off to a stable of visiting judges. The answer to that one is that Mendocino County does not need 9 judges, that by a quirk in the enabling legislation a gang of jive hippies who'd gotten themselves elected outback justice court judges back in the early 1980s were elevated to the superior court bench with full Louis the Sun King pay and emoluments. And here we are forty years later with 9 of them doing the work two used to do.

I WATCHED the presidential motorcade last Thursday night from the corner of Divisadero and Broadway. I couldn't get any closer because the San Francisco police and the Secret Service had the entire neighborhood cordoned off two blocks around. I'd been downtown to see what my comrades in opposition were up to. Except for a platoon of screeching blonde harridans representing, their signs said, "The Tea Party," the 500 or so people on my side, all of them opposed to Obama's policies on everything from medical marijuana to American imperialism, were quite subdued, and far outnumbered by the hordes of happy faces filing obliviously in to a $100 Obama dinner inside the Masonic. One of the Tea Party beasts held a sign that said, "Just Say No To Socialism." Government assistance to the frail and the defeated represents "socialism" you see, and socialism, whatever it is, is bad because our black president is a socialist, you see, and name another country in the world where you meet the kind of militant ignorance you find in this one. It was cold and windy on Nob Hill. I hadn't been to a demonstration up there since 1967 when Air Marshall Ky, a Vietnamese fascist promoted by our government as a great freedom fighter, was staying at the Fairmont. That one quickly became a giant game of tag with the SFPD's Tactical Squad, big guys with fungo bat-like clubs. A retired SF cop I met at the Boonville Fair a couple of years ago told me he'd been recruited for the Tac Squad. "But I turned them down," he said. "I didn't want to drive around every night with a bunch of fat guys looking for fights." The night of the Ky demo, a lot of people, especially women who'd been seated across the street from the hotel in the first rank of demonstrators, got beat up when the fat guys, who I remember as tall and lean and fit, suddenly charged across the street and began clubbing everyone who couldn't get out of the way. The seated women — this was in the days of "chicks up front" — were hit hard, and it was embarrassing to get chased up and down the streets by the badged psychos without fighting back. Someone, probably one of the inevitable provocateurs, had thrown a ballon filled with red paint up against the front entrance of the hotel, and here came the fungo bats. When the Rolling Stones popped up with that song "Street Fighting Man" I knew they were operating from second hand information. The demos of '67 were more like the Running of the Bulls. Two cops would chase a thousand people down the street, which is what happens in Oakland these days when the suburban fantasists come to town to "fight" the police department in lieu of capitalism. Back at Divisadero and Broadway the other night, there were zero signs of political disaffection. There were more cops than there were citizens, and the few citizens who were present looked like the people you might find outside Madonna's hotel hoping to get an autograph. I tried to represent my fellow dissidents I'd left downtown at the Masonic by muttering a few complaints at the officious secret agent who pointlessly ordered me, "Back up on the sidewalk" as I stood a foot from it. I said,  "What is this, Honduras?" Calvin Coolidge , unprotected, used to sit on his front porch and chat with passersby, and even Nixon, when he was loaded which, we've learned since, was nightly, walked outside the White House and talked football with demonstrators. The Secret Service guy who told me to get back on the sidewalk was a man of about forty; he'd given me a quick look, dismissing me as what I appeared, I guess, a crazy old guy talking to himself. Two pretty young women from on-camera television news — channels 2 and 7 — shivered in the wind with me for an hour to no purpose that I could see, dispatched by News Central to do what? Get a shot of Obama from two blocks away? Obama never was visible. His limo pulled into a tent erected at the garage entrance to my nephew's house, and from there he walked upstairs to the gym where he met with his host's family and shot a few hoops with my nephew. Now here's the strange thing, or stranger thing, because to me the entire night was beyond surreal given my family associations: for all the cops and Secret Service boys pounding the bushes on Broadway for bombs and eyeballing the traffic, with sharpshooters hunkered down on rooftops with sniper's rifles, when the president's motorcade finally hove into view with the largest phalanx of motorcycle cops I'd ever seen accompanying black window SUVs filled, I assumed, with more armed men, plus a bomb squad truck and local emergency vehicles of all descriptions, if my backpack had been a bomb I could have taken out both the limos with the presidential seals on them simply by hurling myself at them. And two guys with armor piercing ammo could have easily shot up the whole show. Second funny thing: About five minutes before this absurd motorized spectacle appeared, all traffic was stopped from entering the area for a half-mile around, and there was an errie  silence you never get in the city — never. And then the motorcade roared around the corner at Pacific onto Diviz for a block, left on Broadway and that was it. Honduras. I shuffled down the hill to California then west to Happy Garden on Clement for a plate of Mongolian beef and called it a night.

THERE was a Mendolib lawyer named Villwock

Who wanted Nadel to preside over the dock.

She wanted Nadel

because she could tell

that Nadel would look swell in a frock.


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