COUNTY GARBAGE CZAR MIKE SWEENEY, at their Tuesday meeting, will present the County Board of Supervisors with a Draft Environmental Impact Report in support of an ordinance banning “single use carryout” bags, i.e. plastic bags, which foul the roadsides and line every creek and river in the County.
THE BROOKTRAILS SCAM is also on the Supes agenda this week. McCowen raised the issue last year by pulling from the consent calendar the County's routine authorization to sell tax defaulted properties at auction. Most of these properties were unbuildable vacant lots sold repeatedly over the years to mostly unsuspecting buyers. If a property owner fails to pay the property taxes for five consecutive years, the County can sell the property at auction to recover the back taxes, fees and penalties. And another sucker is stuck with an unbuildable Brooktrails lot. McCowen objected that buyers of the postage stamp sized Brooktrails lots were not being told that most of the lots were effectively unbuildable because of steep terrain and a lack of sewer and water hookups. McCowen's colleagues apparently don't share his concern that the County is complicit in an on-going scam; the vote was 4-1 in favor of continuing to flim-flam
HERE'S HOW IT WORKS: The tax defaulted lots are bought for a song by speculators, some of them local, who market them in San Francisco or Los Angeles or on the internet. It seldom occurs to the urban purchasers, often immigrants and mostly first time property buyers, to ask if basic services like sewer and water are available. The speculators have paid $5,000 or less for the lots and resell them at up to a 1,000% mark up, collecting the down payment and monthly payments until buyers either belatedly visit their vertical country estates or otherwise realize they have been had and stop making payments. And of course they stop paying the property taxes as well. Which is where the County again becomes the owner of the lots and again sells them to unscrupulous real estate salesmen who again sell them on the internet. The speculators are spared foreclosure costs. They simply wait to pick up the property cheap at the inevitable County tax sale and the scam starts all over again.
BUT THE REAL ESTATE market being what it presently is, even the vampires aren't buying — forty of the Brooktrails lots failed to sell at last year's auction. And the scam, as comprehensively reported by Linda Williams in the Willits News, is far worse than McCowen seems to have suspected. The County, as part of the “Teeter Plan,” pays 100% of the taxes and assessments on the lots up front and then waits for reimbursements that never arrive. Properly managed, the County profits from the Teeter Plan because a 10% penalty charge is added to each tax delinquent property, plus 18% annual interest on the total unpaid balance. Most owners eventually get caught up and if not, their property is sold at auction by the County which owns them after they default. But now that the lots aren't selling, the County's Teeter is tottering.
MOST OF THE PROPERTY TAX is owed to the County, but each vacant lot is assessed $120 every year by the Brooktrails Community Services District to pay for water and sewer services that will never be delivered to most of these lots. To reduce fire danger, Brooktrails requires owners of the vacant lots to keep the brush and weeds cut back. If they don't, Brooktrails does the work and adds that to the tax bill, adding up to a $1,000 or more to the cost the County has to pay up front. And Brooktrails wants to raise the fire assessment another $60 a year, bringing the total assessments for sewer, water and fire to $180 per vacant lot. Do the lot owners get to vote on this tax increase? No, only the residents of Brooktrails get to vote. The absentee lot owners (including the County of Mendocino) have paid out millions of dollars for services they will never enjoy and you can bet the homeowners who are benefiting will have no problem voting to make the absentee lot owners pay 50% more than they do now. But in an increasing number of cases, it is the County that will be paying the bill.
THE SAME PEOPLE who said nothing about the mismanaged Teeter Plan and the “excess earnings” scam — the County Treasurer, the Auditor Controller, the Assessor and the CEO — also kept quiet about the Brooktrails scam as it began to unravel. Twelve tax defaulted Brooktrails lots failed to sell at auction in 2008; 33 failed to sell in 2010; 41 failed to sell in 2011 and 74 are up for sale this year. For reasons that are not yet explained, there was no tax auction in 2009, but the steady increase in lots that were not selling should have alerted our highly paid County officials who are supposed to be guarding the County's financial well being. If McCowen, reinforced by Ms. Williams excellent reporting in the Willits News, had not raised the issue and demanded an explanation, the problem would have continued to be swept under the rug.
THE BROOKTRAILS SCAM BEGAN AROUND 1962 and continues to this day. The original developers, including former County Supervisor John Mayfield, Jr., took advantage of a short lived loophole in State law that allowed developers of rural subdivisions to sell four times as many lots as they had water for. The “Brooktrails Vacation Village” was never supposed to have more than 25% of its homeowners present at any one time. The State closed the loophole, but too late to stop Brooktrails and Shelter Cove, another sprawling rural subdivision on the Northcoast with mostly unbuildable lots.
BROOKTRAILS WAS UNDER A WATER MORATORIUM for several years, but a couple of years ago the State said they would allow 24 additional water connections. The Brooktrails Board of Directors quickly jacked the connection fee to nearly $24,000 each (!), thereby making it more expensive to build a new home than to buy one of the numerous existing homes perennially for sale in Brooktrails. But with only 24 water connections and more than 4,000 vacant lots, it isn't hard to see that nearly all of the lot owners, and the County, will be left holding the bag.
THE REAL DANGER FOR THE COUNTY will kick in when the owners of the 4,000 plus vacant lots realize that only the first 24 willing to pay the exorbitant connection fees will ever be able to build on their lots. This week's agenda item will give the Supes the chance to order staff to schedule a public hearing to discontinue the application of the Teeter Plan to Brooktrails. The lots will still represent an on-going scam of near criminal proportions, but at least the County will no longer be subsidizing Brooktrails by paying the water, sewer and fire assessments out of the County's general fund with little or no hope of getting the money back through tax-default auctions.
GOLDILOCKS, aka Miss Jacqueline Nicole Audet, 21, is no longer living with the Three Bears on Babcock Lane just south of Fort Bragg. She had been living at the Babcock Lane address with primitive-looking gents several callers have described as “dirtbags” but the waif-like kid has since moved on. That house on Babcock Lane, incidentally, was where Jason Blackshear came to an untimely end, literally at the alleged hands of James Kester who is accused of choking Blackshear to death as Blackshear tried to choke Kester to death. Let's put it this way: If your daughter had taken up with these characters, and you weren't a dirtbag yourself, or a dirtbag sympathizer (dirt-symp), you'd probably be concerned. But where is Goldilocks now? She has become of concern to many Coast people who often see her on the streets of Mendocino or Fort Bragg, and can't help noting the jarring incongruity, vaguely reminiscent of human sacrifice, presented by this girl, drunk, in the company of undesirables, as dirtbags are euphemized by law enforcement. As one caller put it, “I can only imagine what it must be like for a girl that small and defenseless living on the streets. That may be why she drinks.” That may also be why she better stop drinking and get herself together before… fade to your preferred horror.
IT WILL BE INTERESTING to see the County’s next budget when it is revealed on May 22. State revenue projections are down even farther from already lowered projections as the State borrows from “off-budget” funds in anticipation of an economic recovery more illusory by the day. Locally, the end of the County’s pot permit program will put a several hundred thousand dollar dent in revenues as will the significantly reduced traffic fine revenue. Local property tax returns are also down. Then you have the Board of Supervisors decision last week to put about $300k into a partial subsidy of non-Medicare retiree healthcare, another unanticipated expense to an already fragile County “balanced budget.” We’re not aware of anything in the overall local budget picture likely to increase revenue, but we are aware that the County continues to spend as if the good times are just a dance away.
CAN HENDY WOODS and other Northcoast Parks be saved from the budget axe? Marin Assemblyman Jared Huffman thinks so, based on the unanimous approval of the recently introduced AB-1589, the “California State Parks Stewardship Act,” which was unanimously approved by both Democrats and Republicans of Huffman’s Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee. “Introduced by North Coast Assemblymen Jared Huffman and Wes Chesbro,” wrote Ukiah Daily Journal editor KC Meadows on Tuesday, “the bill would save the parks by providing permanent financial support that would not impact the state general fund. Huffman said after the hearing Tuesday that he was optimistic the bill had a good chance of passing. ‘We absolutely have a chance, that's why I was so encouraged that today we had universal bipartisan support in our first committee hearing,” Huffman said. “We need to pass it quickly with an urgency clause. I couldn't have asked for a better start to what is admittedly an ambitious effort but a doable effort.’ Huffman said he hoped the measure will be able to save the state parks before any of them close. Key provisions of the bill include: Encouraging formation of a state compact that guarantees an ongoing level of state funding for operations and maintenance of state parks. Creating a State Park Enterprise Fund to be used for construction and installation of modern revenue and fee collection equipment and technologies to increase park visitation and revenues. Producing a California State Park environmental license plate which individual vehicle owners could purchase and have the fees go towards support of state parks. Providing the option for taxpayers to voluntarily purchase an annual state park access pass when they file their state tax returns. Requiring the Department of Parks and Recreation to be more transparent on how it evaluates and selects specific parks for closure, and places a cap of 25 state park units on the number of park closures allowed from 2012 to 2016 without legislative approval. Huffman said the bill as written could actually increase revenues for the parks. “I think it'll be revenue positive, absolutely,” he said, citing not only the new revenue mechanisms but the fact that investments in improving the parks will bring more paying customers to them.”
MEADOWS CONTINUES: “Huffman also said he believes that the ‘real costs of park closures are becoming more apparent.’ AB1589 ‘has been months, if not years, in the making,’ Huffman said. He said it includes ideas that the State Parks Foundation and others have developed since the parks have been threatened in the budget. Some 70 state parks are threatened with closure July 1, including Hendy Woods, Jug Handle, Manchester, Russian Gulch, Point Cabrillo Lighthouse and Standish-Hickey in Mendocino County. Ideally, this bill would be passed and signed into law by June 30, the end of the current fiscal year. ‘That would be pretty quick for this place,’ Huffman admitted about the pace of the Legislature. ‘As this bill moves forward, we all also have to make sure that the budget process is moving in a complementary way and not at odds with this.’ Huffman said he did not know yet how Gov. Jerry Brown feels about the bill, but ‘our goal has been to be collaborative and not adversarial on this issue. There's always a bit of tension when there's legislation that tries to redirect something the administration is doing.’ He added, however, that he hoped that if a better solution is found, the governor would be open to it. … ‘Our local economy centers on visitor service and if we lose our only state park, Hendy Woods, every business in our community will be badly affected,’ said Kathy Bailey, chief organizer of the Hendy Woods Community group and AV Chamber of Commerce rep. ‘AB1589 recognizes that closing parks should be the last choice, not the first, when trying to balance the budget. We're very happy that the authors want the State to formulate common sense approaches to management reform and revenue enhancement before taking the drastic step of shuttering a vital component of our community's economy.’ The next step for the bill is a hearing in the Assembly's taxation and revenue committee. Thus far there has been no official report on the bill's financial impact on the budget.”
PURE GOSSIP of the recurrent type: Are local game wardens working under a quota requirement? That they have to make a certain number of stops per shift? Some outdoorsmen suspect as much, and we’ve heard from several of them that they’re pretty sure it’s true. Fish and Game, however and of course, denies they’re operating under any kind of quota system in place.
THE SUPERVISORS AND SEIU said last week in a joint communiqué promising that their working relationship will be more harmonious than it has been. SEIU represents some 750 Mendocino County employees, which is almost all of them. Budget cut negotiations between SEIU and the County limped along for an acrimonious 18 months before an agreement was reached that workers take a ten percent pay cut. Both sides accused each other of bad faith, and there was a lot of unnecessary posturing by the union, whose paid representatives seemed not only inexperienced but unable to adopt a consistent set of demands. County workers pay tens of thousands of dollars every month in union dues to their SEIU local but, for the most part, are now alienated from both their employer and their union.
FERNDALE HIGH SCHOOL'S football program has been put on probation for next season by NorCal's high school sports honchos. A few of Ferndale's more oafish fans have pelted visiting teams with what the school bureaucrats are describing as “racial epithets,” pronounced by them as “epitaffs” or “epilauts.” McClymonds and Salesian high schools both complained about Ferndale fan behavior which, it seems, boiled down to the behavior of one or two racists inflamed at the sight of black kids playing football. Ferndale's hard-hitting school management is putting together a plan pegged to banning repeat offenders from the hometown fan base.
AMONG THE MOB assembled deep in the bowls of the County Courthouse for jury duty recently was the well-known actor Matthew Broderick. As often happens, everyone waited around for several hours until Judge Behnke finally appeared to tell the throng that both cases had settled, and that they and Ferris Bueller were free to resume their days off.
THE SUPES were also scheduled to tour the controversial Harris Quarry on Ridgewood Grade just south of Willits on Monday (March 26). Harris wants to expand. Many people are opposed. In addition to the expansion of the quarry, its proponents want approval for an asphalt plant. They say it makes sense to co-locate the two operations, instead of trucking the rock somewhere else to make it into asphalt. Lots of contractors say that Granite Construction Company, which enjoys a near monopoly on local asphalt production, dearly needs some competition to bring prices down. (If the Willits Bypass ever comes to pass, the Harris Quarry would be well positioned to sell asphalt to whatever poor contractor gets stuck with the job.)
THE OPPOSITION calls itself “Keep The Code,” meaning the current zoning zoning that does not allow asphalt manufacture alongside rock quarries. It includes residents of a nearby trailer park and charter school and lots of back to the land types who live west of the hill that is being torn down for rock. They rightly complain that it will be an intrusion into an otherwise relatively rural environment where there is relatively little noise and unobstructed views of the night sky. The asphalt plant backers want permission to run nighttime operations. Opponents also cite the already hazardous road and traffic conditions on Ridgewood grade, which is often cloaked in fog and rainy weather.
THE COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION recently voted 7-0 to approve the quarry expansion project. The zoning code change to allow an asphalt plant in rangeland applies to rangeland anywhere in the County except the coastal zone, but only if the plant is co-located with an active quarry and only if it is not in the floodplain. According to the staff report, out of the ten or so active quarries in the County, only the Harris quarry and one other meet the criteria to co-locate an asphalt plant. Environmental review would still be required.
QUARRY OPPONENTS may have overplayed their hand by raising the alarmist cry that the zoning code change would open up 41% of the County, including the Coastal Zone, to asphalt plants, oil and gas drilling and fracking. Opponents were also accusing the planning staff, not generally noted for their pro-development slant, of conspiring with the proponents to push the project through. It seems a more fruitful approach would be to focus on the traffic, visual blight and obvious neighborhood impacts of the project.
AS WE UNDERSTAND IT, the zoning change will be appealed to the Board of Supervisors for approval, then the Planning Commission can consider the actual project which will then wind up before the Supes again for a final decision. The way the Board votes on the zoning change may well signal how they feel about the project in general. They eyeballing the site themselves on Monday.
JARED HUFFMAN, front runner to replace Mike Thompson as the reconfigured Northcoast district’s Congressman, has been endorsed by Barney Frank, long-time gofer for the One Percent, specifically Wall Street and the biggest, crooked-est banks.
RICHARD KRUSE, the freshly convicted Albion child molester, may face additional charges. Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Detective Andrew Porter, speaking to the Ukiah Daily Journal’s Tiffany Revelle, said Wednesday, “We have a number of reports that are inactive. If we get enough information to move forward, we will.” Sheriff's detectives filed a criminal complaint with the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office in 2010 on as many as six additional reports alleging that Kruse had sexually abused “multiple children over the course of several years.” Porter confirmed the other allegations. “I questioned him about between half a dozen and 10 different girls, but we didn't have disclosure for them,” Porter said of his 2010 investigative effort. “But where there's smoke, there's fire.” Porter said he isn't actively pursuing any of the prior reports, but “it's a waiting game right now” to see if others will come forward with enough information to bring further charges against Kruse. The statute of limitations for lewd and lascivious acts with a child is 10 years after the victim's 18th birthday, according to Porter. Kruse was convicted of molesting a 7-year-old girl between August 1st, 2007 and May 30, 2008. The jury did not convict Kruse of a charge that he committed sex acts with a child younger than 10, which could have put him in prison for life.
AFTER THE VERDICT, the primary victim’s stepmother released a statement saying the girl's family is pleased with the outcome. “For over 30 years Rick has sexually abused little innocent girls and used the nice guy disguise to cover the evil and twisted man that he really is,” she wrote. “He had us and many others fooled, that's for sure. We trusted him, and he took advantage of that. I hope the other girls can now find the strength and courage to come forward. With Rick behind bars, they don't have to be afraid anymore. Rick could spend the rest of his life in prison and it wouldn't be enough to pay for the wrong that he has done. At least our daughter will now be able to move forward and heal without the fear of Rick lurking behind her.”
KRUSE will be sentenced on May 25.
MRS. DEBRA KRUSE, 59, was arrested March 15 on suspicion of attempting to dissuade a witness from testifying. She is alleged to have made harassing calls to the mother of Sara Peterson who testified that Kruse molested her more than 30 years ago when she was 6.
ANOTHER REPRIEVE for the Palace Hotel. The Ukiah City Council has given the owner of the three-story relic in the center of town another month to do something in the way of rehabbing the structure or at least preventing it from further deterioration. The building’s owner is a Marin County woman named Eladia Laines. Ms. Laines said last month that vandals had broken into the boarded hulk to vandalize it. She spoke of female backpackers spotted by unidentified witnesses who said the women had been hacking into the roof to gain access to the interior, implying that it was these mysterious Amazons who’d damaged the premises into their present dilapidated state. It would cost the City of Ukiah an estimated $1 million or more to make basic repairs and install a seismic retrofit, money the City doesn’t have. Laines now claims she has investors who want to revive the Palace, which she said could cost some $7 million.
ACCORDING to a press release from the Sheriff’s Department, a raid early Monday morning (1am) on a property at 5700 Robinson Creek Road netted 468 pot plants, 42 grow lights and Sara Fraker, 30, of Ukiah. Deputies from the County of Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Team (COMMET), with the help of night shift MCSO patrol deputies, agents from the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force, Mendocino County Probation Office and wardens from the California Department of Fish and Game, served a search warrant on the address southwest of Ukiah where they found indoor grows in several buildings. Ms. Fraker was booked at the Mendocino County Jail on suspicion of cultivating marijuana, possessing marijuana for sale and maintaining a place to grow marijuana. Her bail was set at $25,000.
GIVEN THE NUMBER of cops involved, one might have thought Ms. Fraker was an al Qaeda affiliate, but the raid is likely to turn out to be a net financial plus for Mendocino County given DA Eyster’s innovative pot prosecution policies. Eyster basically settles these things for cash and minor misdemeanors on the bustee’s record. Eyster’s way spares the bustee the very real possibility of serious jail time if he takes his case all the way to a jury and loses, but if he or she pays up and takes his or her misdemeanor the County gets the fine money and the taxpayers aren’t left with the expense of lengthy court proceedings. So far, no one’s complaining.
THE COUNTY, which is you and me brothers and sisters, will spend $8,000 on a plan to improve in-house communication with their employees “and with the community.” The plan is aimed at fixing what CEO Carmel Angelo describes as “a lack of communication, due in part to low staffing levels and little or, in some departments' cases, no ability to generate press releases.” As reported yesterday, the County has hired Jendi Coursey of Indigo Studio and Sarah Bodnar of Social Media Sisters to develop communication among County employees and to keep the general public informed, maybe even fully informed — but don’t count on it. Ms. Coursey will be paid $125 per hour for a maximum of 64 hours. In return, she will devise a a general enhancement of the public’s “perception of the county; improve internal communication with County stakeholders — Board of Supervisors, employees, community partners, etc.; create an inclusive and dynamic communication strategy; create a training plan for staff to achieve a self-sufficient plan for effective public relations and internal communication; create a plan for publishing positive good news' stories; create a plan and design for a county-wide newsletter.”
MS. COURSEY subcontracted with Ms. Bodnar, whose on-line description of her business describes it as a “social media marketing strategists helping you get real in a virtual world. Our style is yoga meets roller derby!”
ENHANCED COMMUNICATIONS are supposed to be in place “by Christmas,” CEO Angelo assures us.
THIS STUFF is all the rage, with twittering and tweeting and all of us constantly looking at ourselves in our Facebook mirrors. GizmoLandia may have its conveniences, but all of it adds up to a global absence of effective communication, or any real communication at all, IMO and LOL when the question really is, WTF? Prediction: The “plan” will include a recommendation that the taxpayers fund I-Yobs for every County employee.
SO, THE COUNTY lays off lots of people, reduces everyone’s pay, preaches austerity then, just as 18 months of management-worker rancor subsides, Ms. Angelo hires a couple of insiders to do what? Communicate. Communicate what to whom?
YEARS AGO, when the County was about to buy a complicated computer system “to enhance communications between department heads,” Supervisor Pinches suggested, “If you have something to say to so-and-so, why not just walk down the hallway and say it? And if it’s too far to walk, pick up the telephone.”
NO ONE HAS RESPONDED to our inquiries asking if these are permanent hires, how much their pay will be, or if the supervisors approve the deal?
THE UKIAH CITY COUNCIL is also again discussing whether or not to buy themselves $600 iPads, the idea being to save on paper products and to enhance communication. Local officials seem to have a difficult time getting in touch with each other, seem to have forgotten the telephone, are no longer capable of putting pen to paper) A year ago when this particular indulgence came up, public outcry at the proposed extravagance killed it.
THE POINT ARENA City Council was scheduled to meet Monday at 3:15 in closed session cryptically described as “Conference With Legal Counsel-Anticipated/Existing Litigation SIGNIFICANT EXPOSURE TO LITIGATION PURSUANT TO SUBDIVISION (B) OF SECTION 54956.9: (1 CASE/LABOUBE).” Mr. LaBoube is the owner of Point Arena’s Sea Shell Inn recently ordered closed by the City. So far the Inn's permanent residents have refused to leave and the utilities are still on.
SOIL GATE: Janice Goebel, a sanitary engineer with the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, said Friday that “large piles of soil contaminated with diesel fuel and motor oil” were taken from the Mendocino Transit Authority's maintenance yard and dumped at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds' racetrack, where they remain. Goebel said Water Quality had received a tip on February 22nd that contaminated soil from the MTA yard off South State Street, Ukiah, had been trucked to the fairgrounds. Water Quality subsequently determined that 2,500 cubic yards of contaminated soil had indeed been removed from the MTA during construction of its new bus barn and posh admin offices and dumped “near a school on the fairgrounds property between October of 2011 and February of 2012.” Tests of the suspect soil revealed petroleum hydrocarbons from diesel and motor oils. A March 8th letter from Water Quality to MTA directed MTA remove the soil. Water Quality expects that on April 2nd work to remove the soil from the fairgrounds will begin. Fairgrounds administrators said they thought the MTA dirt was “clean fill” for the automobile racetrack.
MTA DIRECTOR BRUCE RICHARD is said to be on vacation from his $100,000-plus responsibilities running empty buses on inconvenient schedules to dubious destinations.
LEAD SENTENCE from a Sunday PD story by Guy Kovner: “Political third parties, which typically veer to the left or right of the Democrats and Republicans, don't like California's new top-two, open primary that makes its debut in the June 5 election.” Third parties don't like Prop 14 because it “effectively denies voters their fundamental right of choice by precluding small party candidates from the general election ballot,” as several third parties have argued in a joint lawsuit against Secretary of State Debra Bowen. A top two election removes whatever influence third parties might exert on the Democrats and Republicans in the general election. Only 5% of California voters belong to a third party, but occasionally, as has happened here on the Northcoast, a third party candidate is able to garner enough votes to swing an election from a particularly odious officeholder to a slightly less odious one. Democrats have always feared Peace and Freedom and Greens, Republicans fear Libertarians and American Independents. Democrats and Republicans would prefer to keep elections to themselves. Irv Sutley has been battling for years to keep Peace and Freedom ballot-eligible. Twenty years ago, P&F knocked a Thompson-like Democrat, Doug Bosco, out of Congress and threw a scare into the Chesbro-like Democrat Dan Hauser. Sutley assesses both Kovner's prose and Prop 14: “This Press Democrat story out of Santa Rosa is a poorly written story but at least it is coverage of the Proposition 14 lawsuit. The author fails to mention the long-range effects on small third parties which will be eliminated from ballot status starting in 2014. This will occur when these smaller parties can not advance to the November general election where they are required to get two percent of the vote for a statewide office in an election in which a governor is elected.”
ASSEMBLYMAN WES CHESBRO, a career officeholder whose three decades in local office have come to represent a kind of werewolf-like political curse on the Northcoast — it will take thousands of silver stakes through Chesbro's chest to even locate his heart — will probably again waft to re-election on a cloud of voter ennui. “Chesbro? Is that the guy who kinda looks like Wayne Newton? You know, moustache, iron hair, disco pimp-looking dude?” That's him. Vote for the other guy. This time around, Chesbro will face two other Democrats and a Green Party whangdoodle on the June 5 primary ballot, with the most voteworthy of the two Democrats being Tom Lynch of Guerneville. Lynch would absolutely be an improvement over Chesbro, and he may just have a shot at Wes because the new 2nd District includes the northern half of Santa Rosa on up to the Oregon border, meaning Chesbro's flab-glab-lib-lab base in Arcata and Southern Humboldt will be outnumbered by the new Santa Rosa vote, which should be to Lynch’s advantage. The other candidates are Firenza Pini, 21, a Democrat from Hayfork, and Pamela Elizondo of Laytonville, a perennial third party candidate who, like an electoral cuckoo clock, chirps only at election time.