CONTRARY to last Tuesday's report out of Closed Session, the AVA has learned that the 18 parcels at 537 Parducci Road owned by the McGehee family are available and very much for sale. But not to the County of Mendocino! The 3,000 acres borders property owned by Dr. Noemi (Mimi) Doohan, the absentee (Assistant) Public Health Director for Mendocino County who issues orders from her domicile in San Diego County. Dr. Doohan inherited the property from her late father, Claude Steiner, the semi-renowned psychologist and self-described benevolent dictator of a hippie commune that he presided over for several decades. (Varsity hippies were up the hill at Greenfield.)
AS PREVIOUSLY REPORTED IN THE AVA, the closed session discussion on property acquisition likely violated the Brown Act which allows for closed door discussion of the price and terms of a real estate purchase. But County Counsel Christian Curtis and CEO Carmel Angelo brought this item forward in closed session without first bothering to establish the purpose and need for the acquisition. This is part of a continuing pattern where the CEO and her inner circle decide in advance what is best for the county and present it as a done deal to the Board of Supervisors who are then expected to ratify whatever is set in front of them with no public input, modification, or discussion.
WHAT POSSIBLE USE does the County have for 3,000 acres of rangeland north of Ukiah? The CEO and her minions will never tell, but our loyal AVA readers, clearly among the most astute and well informed residents of the County, quickly began filling in the blanks. 1.) The property borders Dr. Doohan's property; 2.) Dr. Doohan is known to be very interested in controlling or acquiring the adjoining property but lacks funds to do so; 3.) Dr. Doohan is close friends with CEO Angelo who steered a series of lucrative personal services contracts to Doohan for her do-nothing services as covid boss, and now assistant covid boss; 4.) CEO Angelo sits on the Measure B Committee which has accumulated something like $22 million dollars since it was approved by the voters over three years ago; 5.) Dr. Doohan is employed by the Arlene & Michael Rosen Foundation which has established several "Safe Haven" facilities for treatment of addiction and mental illness; 6.) Dr. Doohan would like to establish a Safe Haven facility here in Mendocino County and what better place than right next door to her own property? Getting paid to “help” people is a growth opportunity in Mendocino County, especially for the well-connected, not that you’d notice based on what we see every day on the streets.
THE ROSEN FOUNDATION advertises itself as "investing in local solutions that address the needs of our most vulnerable populations, with an emphasis on those impacted by homelessness, addiction and mental illness." Under "who we are" the Foundation website says "Noemi [Doohan] is an Assistant Director of the Scripps-Mercy Chula Vista Family Medicine Residency Program in Southern San Diego County. Since August 2019 and through the Covid Pandemic, she has served as the Public Health Officer for Mendocino County."
AN ACCOMPLISHED long distance multi-tasker, we can envision Dr. Doohan maintaining her full time job in San Diego and her lucrative consulting contract with Mendocino County while simultaneously serving as Medical/Executive Director of the Mendocino County outpost of Safe Haven.
LAURA HAMBURG, who has an undergraduate degree in Political Science and a Masters in Journalism, both from UC Berkeley, is also employed locally by the Rosen Foundation. Following college, according to her online bio, Ms. Hamburg "had a career in both politics and journalism as a campaign manager, a reporter for the SF Chronicle, a managing editor for a news service in Washington, DC and an owner/publisher of a newspaper in Ukiah, California (The “Bullhorn”) and currently works as a community promotions consultant and historical radio series director in Ukiah."
AT LEAST ONE MEMBER of the Measure B Committee, in addition to CEO Angelo, was recently approached about purchasing the McGehee property for use as a drug and alcohol recovery facility, which is exactly what the Rosen Foundation and their local employee Dr. Doohan would like to establish. But why this property? In addition to being walking distance from Dr. Doohan's Mendocino County front door, the property also comes with a water right for 900 acre feet of water annually, something that would greatly enhance the value of Dr. Doohan's relatively parched acreage. Doohan is said to already have in mind the portion of the McGehee property she would eventually like to acquire for herself.
CEO ANGELO, DR. DOOHAN, COUNTY COUNSEL YES MA’AM and various members of the Measure B Committee all knew about the proposed purchase of the property in advance. Some of them even knew the purported purpose was to establish a Safe Haven facility. But probably only Doohan and Angelo knew the larger purpose was for Doohan to gain control of the property and its valuable water resources.
THE SUPES AND THE PUBLIC were apparently the only people kept in the dark. And the property owners! The AVA assumed Angelo and her team were already in contact with the owners but has since learned that was not the case. Word of the proposed purchase began to circulate after the Supes agenda was published March 4 and created quite a buzz in the greater Parducci Road neighborhood. Eventually one of the neighbors called the property owners who were taken completely by surprise. And who were completely opposed to selling the property to the Doohan/Angelo combine under any circumstances. A well informed source says the property owner spoke directly to CEO Angelo and informed her the property was not for sale to the County at any price for any purpose.
THE SUPES WERE SPARED having to decide whether or not to hijack upwards of $5 million of Measure B funds to provide yet another sinecure for Dr. Doohan. But this fairly obvious and ultimately clumsy attempt to manipulate the Supes into the misappropriation of millions of public dollars is merely a continuation of a disturbing trend. Angelo and her inner circle appear to have little or no respect for the elected Supervisors and their supposed role as policy makers. Meetings are infrequent. Agendas are packed. Questions are unwelcome and the sometimes dubious answers are not followed up on. Just move approval and move out of the way so we, Angelo and team, can do the real business of the County.
ANGELO RECENTLY ATTEMPTED to purchase the Orchard Avenue Ukiah real estate offices of her good friend Richard Selzer who was upset at the purchase of the motel next door to him for use as homeless housing. When Selzer raised a fuss, Angelo is reported to have told him not to worry, that she would buy the property from him. Except Angelo proposed to purchase the property with county funds and with no discussion of the proposed purpose and need. It is unlikely the County has any need for a real estate office building since many employees are working from home. The outcome of the closed session discussion of the Selzer deal is unknown since it was followed by the standard report out of closed session: "direction was given to staff."
THE PURCHASE OF THE BEST WESTERN MOTEL at 555 S. Orchard Avenue in Ukiah was equally stealthy with the property put in escrow without any public notice or discussion. The excuse was offered that State funds were available on short notice and the county did not have time for public discussion of the project or its impacts on the neighborhood. Was this an appropriate use of $13+ million of public funds? Was this the right location? How will it be managed, who will it house and is it sustainable? What will the county do if it turns out to be another publicly subsidized blight like the homeless shelter at 1045 S. State St. run by Carmel Angelo's close friends, the Schraders?
THE RUNDOWN old nursing home on Whitmore Lane was also purchased with no prior notice or public discussion. It began with CEO Angelo’s declaration that she had “commandeered” the building with a lease agreement with the Modesto owner. A few months later that was converted to an outright purchase.
ON TUESDAY it was reported the roof had fallen in — a “complete collapse” as staff described it — and would only cost $2.8 million for repairs. Supervisor Mulheren initially balked at approving $2.8 million to fix the roof on a derelict building with no discussion of the long term need or purpose.
BY THAT AFTERNOON someone had clued Mo in that the Supes knew going in that the roof was rotten. Based on that assurance Mulheren withdrew her objection. We suspect someone told her the CEO does not welcome questions and if she persists she will be non-personed like recently departed Supervisor McCowen who was forbidden to speak to Executive Office staff.
BUT THE $2.8 MILLION roof job is likely a mere prelude to another Angelo promoted money pit. No doubt the collapsed roof and rain pouring in will lead to mold infestation and the removal of sheetrock, carpeting and tile. Once the walls are opened the dry rot will be apparent. And if that happens after the roof is repaired, the roof will have to be re-repaired. As one online commenter has suggested, it would be cheaper to bulldoze the building than to repair it.
ANGELO'S CONTEMPT FOR THE SUPERVISORS was also evident in the presentation on how to allocate the $22.6 million in PG&E settlement money from the 2017 fires. The carefully orchestrated presentation consisted of wish lists from various county departments. The shameless grab for dollars to fund pet projects unrelated to the fires recalled a famous line from former Supervisor John Pinches. Back in the early 2000s, commenting on the Slavin salary survey which resulted in pay hikes for County employees, especially high paid department heads, Pinches summed up the giveaway by commenting "There's an acorn for every pig!"
SUPERVISORS WILLIAMS AND HASCHAK have held a series of Town Hall meetings to hear from cannabis industry stakeholders and devoted endless hours to working with staff and state agencies in a so far futile attempt to fix Mendocino County's broken pot ordinance. But when Supervisor Mulheren suggested holding Town Hall meetings to hear from victims of the 2017 fires, Angelo was quick to intercede. She cautioned that the Board was about to start the Strategic Plan process, that (irrelevant) state mandated Redistricting was about to begin, and why, golly gee, there simply wouldn't be time to hear from a bunch of whiny fire survivors. And doing so would take too much time. Better to fold the PG&E expenditure plan into the open-ended Strategic Planning process!
MULHEREN STOOD HER GROUND, assisted by Supervisor Glenn McGourty. They pointed out the Strategic Plan process would likely take far longer than a couple of Town Hall meetings. The Board finally agreed that Mulheren and McGourty would form an ad hoc committee to hear from the public and report back to the Board. But each of the other Supes made it clear they felt no obligation to spend the fire disaster funds on the affected communities. After all, funds may be needed for Angelo's next publicly funded land grab.
Addendum: Gov Code On Real Estate Purchases
A Reader Notes:
California Government Code Section 54956.8 (2016) (public.law)
This is the code that the supes referenced on the agenda for going into closed session on this issue. It appears the County is in violation of this code in a number of their property purchases.