- Return The Pilfered Rifle
- Memo Of The Week
- Never Again
- Contradictory Info
- Raise The Dam
- The Palace Hotel
- Book Recommendations
- A Tale Of Two Referendums
- Referendum Road
- Mandatory Vaxx
- Catch & Store
- Joe Wildman Lives!
RETURN THE PILFERED RIFLE
To the person who took the rifle off my grandson’s ATV in our barnyard while he was in the barn doing chores, please consider returning it. He worked very hard for the privilege of owning his own rifle and it means a lot to him. Please return the rifle to the barn or house.
MEMO OF THE WEEK
McGourty’s Conflict of Interest
Notice Of Intent to File Conflict of Interest Complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission for Supervisor Glenn McGourty (Emailed to recipients July 14, 2021)
To Supervisor Glenn McGourty, Mendocino County Counsel, Mendocino County Board of Supervisors
Summary: A conflict or appearance of a conflict of interest disqualifies Supervisor Glenn McGourty not only from Board of Supervisors decisions related to the wine industry, but from his participation in any local water related board, committee, agency or commission because he owns a vineyard that derives income from water for his grapes and he is on close terms with other water-dependent grape growers in Ukiah and Potter Valleys.
Part 1: The California Fair Political Practices Act
(From the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) website)
“Under the Act, a public official has a disqualifying conflict of interest in a governmental decision if it is foreseeable that the decision will have a financial impact on his or her personal finances or other financial interests. In such cases, there is a risk of biased decision-making that could sacrifice the public’s interest in favor of the official’s private financial interests. To avoid actual bias or the appearance of possible improprieties, the public official is prohibited from participating in the decision.”
For further reference: “To determine the applicable materiality standard, or to obtain more detailed information on conflicts, an official may consult the FPPC’s guide to Recognizing Conflicts of Interest.”
Part 2: Background:
“What got me involved in politics is water.”
— Supervisor Glenn McGourty, in a May 28, 2021 podcast about water and wine grapes
* * *
“We had a series of questions about wine and wine grapes and such. [Not described, but apparently critical] and I will answer them because of course as a wine grape grower and more importantly a person who has spent a good portion of his career in frost [protection] and looking for options besides sprinklers I can tell you why we grow. Why -- why we grow wine anyway. Because this is a great place to grow it. We make really good wine out of Mendocino County! I've traveled the world. I've seen a lot of other places. We have really special conditions here that make wine exceptional. Our economy is built on it. It's historic. We have done it since the 1860s. We know how to do it. It's part of our fabric, our culture, our heritage. And we're good at it! And we can sell it usually in the marketplace. Probably more important is the issue of why would we -- what's the benefit to the community? For every ton of Chardonnay we sell we get somewhere around $1200 to a winery when we sell it. It's probably — and the price is more than that, but that's what we get paid. When that is made into wine, by the time it goes through the system of paying taxes, federal excise taxes, state excise tax, state sales tax, we generate from that $1200 of grapes almost $900 in taxes. So there is a pretty good return relative to what we, you know, spending on, you know, water. Then the water issue is another good thing. Even with the frost protection, grapes are pretty stingy with water. In a typical situation when I was invited, advising people in the Ukiah Valley you have enough water to grow grapes. You have half an acre foot for irrigating the grapes and you'd better have half an acre foot for frost protection. And that was 20 years ago when it was more regulated than it is now. We used to have around 10 frost nights, and now we have three or four. Let's suppose we have one acre foot to grow grapes. That's really high. My own usage is much lower because what I have its probably half that. Most of them are getting by with half an acre foot. But when you compare that with growing almonds in the Central Valley which is around five acre-feet or compare that with growing cotton in the Central Valley which is around three and a half to four acre-feet and goes up to around seven acre-feet. So the amount of water that we use to grow grapes to generate the jobs, tax base and taxes is a pretty good return. It's a good investment. With whatever water resources we have. And the agricultural land we have in Mendocino County it works out pretty well. Cannabis is also very controversial. Part of our biggest problem with cannabis right now is it was set up to be an illegal industry and we are trying to legalize it. So we probably have it in the wrong place. We have cannabis planted in a lot of places where we don't have enough water. In the upper watersheds. It would be better if it was planted down on flat agricultural land. And there's people who would like to grow it there. Part of our new ordinance would allow that. It would reduce some of the environmental impacts we are very very concerned about.”
Supervisor Glenn McGourty, Drought Ad Hoc Task Force Committee meeting, July 8, 2021
* * *
In this second, longer public statement at the end of the Drought Task Force meeting, apart from the biased, subjective, self-serving, unsubstantiated and debatable rhetoric about how wonderful the wine industry is and his apparent love of it and the importance of water to that industry, Supervisor McGourty conflates “we” with the County of Mendocino, himself, and the wine industry in general, and clearly links water availability at his 16-acre Spirit Canyon Ranch vineyard on the Russian River to his own ability to sell his grapes at a profit.
Further, based on his campaign contributions as shown on Mendocino County’s Elections website, Supervisor McGourty received financial campaign support from a number of wine industry sources, giving the impression that he could favor them in his public decisions regarding water allocations during the drought.
To the best of our knowledge Supervisor McGourty is not only on the County Board of Supervisors which deals with water and drought issues affecting his vineyard and the inland Mendocino County wine industry in general, but he is also on the Board’s Drought Task Force which will provide guidance to the Board on water and drought issues. In addition, he is Chairman of the Ukiah Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board which has spent years doing essentially nothing about the serious water shortage in the Ukiah and Potter Valleys other than meet and talk — an apparent delaying tactic which he and his wine industry associates benefit from since it postpones the prospect of measuring or restricting water for his and their vineyard(s).
By way of further background, in December of 2016, The Mendocino Voice reported that Fifth District Supervisor Dan Hamburg recused himself from cannabis related discussions and decisions “Because Hamburg rents property to an adult child who is growing marijuana with a permit under the 9.31 program, Hamburg has been recusing himself from all deliberations on the cultivation ordinance.” Hamburg concluded at that time that his daughter’s cannabis cultivation permit created a conflict of interest with his role as Supervisor with authority over cannabis cultivation rules under the Fair Political Practices Act.
Part 3: Conclusion
Supervisor McGourty’s conflict of interest arises because, as an official with several offiical water-related assignements in Mendocino County, and particularly in the Ukiah Valley, Supervisor McGourty is in a position to affect, positively or negatively, his own ability to profit from his decisions regarding water and the drought and those of his associates and supporters in the wine industry.
Under the Fair Political Practices Act even the appearance of a conflict of interest is to be avoided. In addition, the conflict or appearance of conflict could create a liability for the County if a water user or agency in the Ukiah area sued the county if he felt that his interests were negatively affected by Supervisor McGourty’s decisions over the County’s water policies and decisions.
Part 4: Request
Therefore, I request that Supervisor McGourty:
1. Fully disclose the specific financial benefit he receives from whatever water he may or may not get from the Russian River going back at least five years.
2. Withdraw from any and all committees, boards, commissions or agencies which have authority over water allocations in Ukiah or Potter Valley.
3. Recuse himself from any Board of Supervisors’ discussions or decisions relating to inland water, the drought, or the Potter Valley Diversion.
If Supervisor McGourty complies substantially with the above request within ten calendar days of the receipt of this notice (the amount of time typically cited in Public Records Act Requests) I will not proceed with my FPPC complaint.
If, on the other hand, Supervisor McGourty chooses not to respond in a timely manner, or cannot adequately explain why there is no conflict or appearance of conflict, or denies these requests, then I will proceed with a formal FPPC complaint and let them process it as they see fit.
PO Box 672
Boonville, CA 95415
* * *
County Counsel Christian Curtis Replies:
Thank you for your email. As you likely know, my office does not act as personal attorneys for individual supervisors, but as agency counsel we do provide training on conflicts of interest, assist government officials in obtaining opinions from the FPPC, and flag areas of potential concern as we become aware of them.
Your email indicated that you are looking for information related to certain financial interests of an individual board member. Mendocino County lodges its Form 700 financial disclosure statements with the Mendocino County Recorder. You can obtain copies by contacting that office or by submitting a Public Records Act Request through the County's NextRequest portal. If you have any questions about what forms or years are on file, that office can assist you.
With respect to the comments in your email, it is generally correct that ownership of a business or real property can create a conflict of interest under the Political Reform Act. This, in turn, may require disqualification from certain decisions. To determine, however, whether recusal is appropriate (or whether further guidance should be sought from the FPPC) requires information about both the official's financial investment the particular governmental decision at issue. A particular financial interest can create a conflict for certain decisions but not others, even if they touch on the same general subject matter. For example, land owned by a public official may create a conflict as to a decision to rezone neighboring parcels but not a decision to rezone land located miles away.
Unfortunately, I couldn't discern from your email whether there were currently any specific proposals or decisions that warrant concern. In particular, you mentioned water allocations within Ukiah or Potter Valley and membership in any boards, committees, or commissions that may be responsible for those determinations, but I'm not immediately aware of any County body addressing that issue (many of those decisions are made by other agencies). It's possible that your email was meant as a general caution that some future water item may arise that Supervisor McGourty would have to abstain from, but if there was something particular you meant to call my attention to, I want to make sure that we're not missing it. Please let us know if there are any particular decisions that you were concerned about or intended to call out.
Christian M. Curtis
County Counsel, County of Mendocino
501 Low Gap Road, Room 1030, Ukiah, CA 95482
Phone: (707) 234-6885 · Fax: (707) 463-4592
To the Editor:
Once again the Community Development Commission of Mendocino County shows it’s dislike and disdain for landlords, this time by informing me they will do their yearly inspection at my rental on August 4th, any time between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
People pulling oxygen tanks can arrive for their appointment at my Oncologist’s office and be pretty sure their ride won’t wait long before they are rolling the tanks back out the door, up and over the door’s metal threshold, but the CDC needs a window of 8 hours to come in and count the smoke-detectors in a one-bedroom apartment.
I suppose I could start sitting in a lawn chair outside my tenant’s at 8 am, and plan on being there till 4. It isn’t like it will be hot in August.
Once again, I find myself and remind myself that I will NEVER rent to another CDC client, and not because of the CDC clients; because of the CDC.
If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks inside school buildings, I cannot see how California’s health services director, Dr. Mark Ghaly, can require fully vaccinated students to wear one (“State to require masks at schools,” Saturday).
His argument that some schools cannot comply with the 3-foot physical distancing requirement may have some merit, but those schools could be given a waiver to mask up. The one size fits all approach is not the answer.
His second argument — that nonvaccinated mask-wearing students will be stigmatized by those students who are fully vaccinated — is even weaker. I thought we were encouraged to teach diversity in our schools. Does everyone have to look the same?
Of course, schools that accommodate students under 12 is another matter, but I am still at a loss why the state doesn’t require all eligible students to be vaccinated.
RAISE THE DAM
To the Editor:
Re: Jared Huffman, 2nd Congressional District of California
Mendocino County Board of Supervisors
Ukiah City Council
We have just finished reading Sunday’s Press Democrat focusing on the local drought conditions. Isn’t it time that local and state elected officials acted specifically on improving water storage at Lake Mendocino?
According to what we have read, the Corps of Engineers began studying raising Coyote Dam in 2014, with no resulting action. Positive action such as moving the first shovel of dirt would be a step forward.
We encourage Ukiah City Council to take the lead in putting pressure on the Federal Government to move forward on this project.
According to published statistics for June 25, 2021, the Ukiah rainfall year-to-date was 13.48 inches and our 30-year annual average is 35 inches. Lake Mendocino is at 36.6 percent of the target water supply curve.
Please take any appropriate action to facilitate this project.
Carole and Ted Hester
THE PALACE HOTEL
Eight years ago, Norm Hudson got Big Brother and the Holding Company a gig at UBC to fundraise, to make the historic Palace Hotel a Western History museum. Eladia Laines had bought it for that idealistic cause. Norm Hudson led the physical restoration. I’m one of the people who supported the Palace project.
Our community has a great success in the Sun House Museum, to connect everyone to our significant history in the Sun House. It is a cultural crown jewel of our area. I wish we had another crown jewel in the Palace.
It is a crown jewel, but not taken care of. It would enhance our quality of life here, by connecting us to our past. It would draw people here and be very pleasant to look at, if restoration is completed. Imagine all the characters who stayed there when it was a hotel. It is a focal point of local history, an entertaining and engrossing subject as outlaw tales in the AVA, but with physical proof of it to view as well as visualize.
Insufficient funding was not the only challenge to our project. Norm Hudson told me there was organized looting. The Palace’s bar was stolen and sold to the UBC. He found the “Palace Hotel” sign that was on its roof at a yard sale. He couldn’t come often enough because he had to earn a living and much of the interior was looted, although he many times worked in the Palace waiting to be paid for it. Eladia, Norm and others were idealistically motivated to grace our community with a Western history museum where so much of it happened. He planned to fill it with his own collection of artifacts.
Not so, the looters, no idealists, but thieves. I read letters in the UDJ from someone rhetorically condemning the Palace as if a geyser of asbestos and 1908 rolled into one. W/O naming anyone, Norm said there was an “asbestos activist” greatly exaggerating asbestos and seismic issues. I wonder how a letter writer would make such claims unless he knew the interior well, in person?
The “asbestos activist” complaints required a professional asbestos removal service to search the Palace for it, for renovation to proceed, i paid for or it. I watched two big, EMPTY, tractor-trailer dump trucks leave. They had found only a miniscule trace.
I don’t know what it would cost to reinforce the Palace against a “decent” earthquake. I have not read any letters about it claiming professional expertise, but the Palace has withstood all quakes, including 1908, since 1891.
I don’t know who looted the Palace. I can only guess from such letters about it’s purported hazards. All such letters seem totally negative in an alarmist way. No sign of a positive community spirit. They always urge the Palace be demolished. Why, to destroy evidence?
PS. I’d just like to add, there are 9 businesses and one non-profit operating on the same block as the Palace, “Tarbaby”‘s complaint notwithstanding. And the hate seems beyond care for our community. But i do not know who looted our crown jewel.
Regarding the brief article in the July 7 issue of The AVA about Charles Manson and Dean Moorehouse and their time in Mendocino County in the 1960s, I have some book recommendations.
During the pandemic, I was obsessed with books about politics, the CIA, organized crime, etc.
These Three Books are a Conspiracy Theorist’s Dream:
Journalist Tom O’Neill spent years of his life researching Manson and concluded that Manson was being used by the CIA as part of their notorious LSD studies. His book Chaos is so damn good, it sheds light on all sorts of dirty tricks by the CIA. Previously I had been a big fan of Vince Bugliosi, author of Helter Skelter and Reclaiming History, but O’Neill debunks many of Bugliosi’s assertions and provides a ton of new information about Manson and the family and their intersection with the CIA and many big names in Hollywood.
A great follow up book is Poisoner in Chief, by Stephen Kinzer, about Sidney Gottlieb’s terrifying experiments at the CIA with poison techniques and attempts at mind control using LSD. The story of what the CIA did to US citizens and people all over the world is stomach turning.
I also want to recommend Gianni Russo’s life story, Hollywood Godfather. Gianni’s amazing life as a courier for Frank Costello dovetails with so many aspects of 1960s American history, specifically the Kennedy assassination. He puts so many puzzle pieces together regarding the Kennedy family, organized crime, Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe and much more.
I listened to all 3 books in their audio versions from the San Francisco Public Library. I do all my own yard work and housecleaning and audiobooks keep me entertained during this drudgery. I think you and many of the AVA readers would enjoy these books.
Thanks, as always, for putting out a great paper.
A TALE OF TWO REFERENDUMS
To the Editor:
The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors’ 4 to 1 vote (Supervisor Haschak dissenting) to approve a new cannabis ordinance that establishes the infamous “10 percent rule” (which permits cannabis grows of up to 10 percent on parcels over 10 acres), is a direct slap in the face to every legacy cannabis farmer, small business owner and registered voter in this County.
Imagine: the 10 percent rule permits a cannabis grow of 100 acres on a 1,000 acre parcel. A 100 acre grow is the equivalent of 435 10,000 square feet grows, the previous maximum size. It doesn’t take an economics professor to see that the 10 percent rule is the death knell for the County’s small legacy cannabis farmers, and that the County’s cannabis industry will be dominated by a few large corporate entities mostly headquartered outside the County.
It is clear that the four Supervisors who voted in favor of the 10 percent rule have no problem selling out their constituents for the easy money from deep pocketed, out-of-County, corporate, speculators.
In reaction to the Board’s effrontery, two ad hoc groups of alarmed citizens formed independently to create county wide referendums to rescind the 10 percent rule. Apparently there was an attempt made to merge the two groups, but their differences in approach could not be reconciled, so now there are petitions for two separate referendums to repeal the 10 percent rule being circulated to get on the ballot. Personally, I was not consulted on either of these referendums, so my opinion expressed below is entirely based on the content of the referendums and not on the identities of the petitioners.
I have been following the debate in the newspapers over the two referendum proposals, and from what I can tell, one referendum would completely rescind the new cannabis ordinance and fall back on the failed permitting process of the past five years, and the other referendum would simply strike out the 10 percent rule and leave the rest of the new ordinance intact.
As I see it, with the exception of the 10 percent rule, the new ordinance is not so bad. It includes needed reforms in the permitting process that make it feasible for small cannabis farmers to actually get a permit to grow legally. Under the new ordinance, cannabis farmers would be required to get a use permit from the Building and Planning Department to operate. To qualify for a use permit, the applicant would have to demonstrate compliance with state water and wildlife regulations as well as county land use regulations.
No matter what system the county uses to process permits for legal cannabis cultivation, the success of the program at protecting our environment from destructive farming practices will be determined by enforcement of compliance with these state and county regulations. With its current staffing, the Building and Planning Department is ill-equipped to handle enforcement of these regulations, so if this use permit system is to succeed at protecting our environment, Building and Planning will need to be fully staffed with compliance enforcement officers.
In my opinion, if the 10 percent rule is excised from the new ordinance, it will then be a positive step forward for the legal cannabis industry in Mendocino County, so therefore I support the referendum to that effect. However, I recommend that registered voters sign both petitions to make sure they both qualify for the ballot, and then vote for both on election day to make sure they both pass. I must say, I think it is unfortunate that the citizen activist energy for overturning the 10 percent rule is split in two, and I hope this division doesn’t sink them both.
To the Editor:
What would be accomplished by a successful Phase 3 referendum? And how would that benefit the County of Mendocino and its residents? Yes we all would love to revert to the days gone by of simpler compassionate use regulation and zip ties if it were not for the well documented environmental destruction that resulted from weak and unorganized oversight that will be mitigated under Phase 3.
What is at stake today is the livelihood of residents who pay taxes and have the same right to participate in legal cultivation, processing and manufacturing, and distribution of cannabis in the Proposition 64 cannabis industry who qualify under Phase 3. Those residents who could not prove prior cultivation under Phase 1 regulation because they chose to obey the law and not cultivate illegally will be hurt and many of them likely your neighbor who if isn’t a cultivator may be an employee of a cannabis cultivator or producer.
And what would an EIR gain over and above the CEQA process? The environmental data gathered over a long multi-year EIR will certainly highlight the wide proportionality gap that exists between the acreage of proposed Phase 3 cannabis cultivation versus vineyards or cattle herds. What impact would an EIR have on the owners of the 17,000 thousand acres of Mendocino vineyards or the 15,000 head of cattle? In Hopland vineyard operators are planting hundreds of acres without the same burdens placed on cannabis cultivators who are assessed fees by the local fire department for approvals on a 10,000 sq ft greenhouse.
All residents of Mendocino desire performance based leadership that addresses the myriad of issues. Phase 3 is a positive step in that direction that the residents of Mendocino deserve.
Reply to Clifford Paulin…
“Allow the process of thoughtful representative democracy to move ahead.” These are your own words. But your meaning is “opposition is not democratic” and the people who oppose cannabis expansion should just shut up and go away. You are correct in “it is time for us to begin to repair our broken cannabis system.” The whole process has been a complete failure since pot was legalized in California. And now with larger grows being allowed it will be hard to breathe in Mendocino County without the smell of pot in the air. I thought we might have learned something after breathing fire smoke the last five years. We could not control the illegal pot grows before legalization and now it has only gotten worse.
We have hundreds of “pot” articles in the paper trying to get a handle on the new laws concerning the licensing of pot growers but we have not progressed down that road have we?
Just look at what is going on in Covelo. Why are we allowing this to happen right under our noses? Oh yeah because it is pot, we allow violence, environmental destruction, and rural neighborhoods to be transformed into pot “farms,” and consider the amount of water that goes into the growing of weed without much oversight, the smell that can be a nuisance to your neighbors not to mention the seedy types that have moved into the county. Smoke all the pot you want but consider that these actions have consequences and somewhere or somehow we will all be affected.
In the face of a widespread rise in delta variant cases in France, President Emmanuel Macron boldly issued a mandate to the French people. Beginning in August, everyone must be vaccinated to attend a concert, go to a bar or have a meal in a restaurant. In the face of a national rise of COVID cases here, President Joe Biden must do the same.
To work in any hospital in France, any employee must be vaccinated. This same law should also apply to every school in America. Get a shot if you think you can work at any school in America.
We face a surge that takes no prisoners. We need to stop trying to stop it with half measures we already know are not working.
CATCH & STORE
We all know an infrastructure package is coming soon. Just how much real, traditional infrastructure money will be available, we shall see. I know we need road resurfacing, new bridges and maybe a train, but higher on the needs list is water.
California hasn’t built a new large reservoir since 1979, even though the Sites Reservoir has been in the planning stages for years. Funding was cut back last year amid claims the project was too costly. Compared to what? A bullet train to Fresno?
As a teenager, I helped build a half-dozen reservoirs on private land. They weren’t big projects, but they are still catching rainwater in the winter and supplying groundwater in the summer. They are also handy for helicopter “dipping” during fires.
Why there are not more of them is that now they require environmental impact reports, fish and game applications, structural engineering and water diversion permits on top of actual construction costs. In addition, each year the state charges landowners a few hundred dollars for the privilege of supplying water back to the ground.
We need water projects, large and small, to sustain streams and creeks and replenish groundwater. This is an ideal use of our state windfall and federal stimulus money.
JOE WILDMAN LIVES!
Editor (the assumed opinionator in the Anderson Valley Advertiser),
Your continual drumbeat about Joe Biden’s mental state, so derogatory, so disparaging, leads me to believe that you are yourself in a state of mental decline and misperception about reality.
I choose anonymity for this communication, considering how judgmental and ill-perceived your “judgments” are.
Go well. Try to take better care of yourself. Try to admit that your ORIGINAL opinion about Biden was flat-out wrong, cease trying to save face, and try to desist from flogging that error into the ground.
Signed, a consant reader, a continuing subscriber.
Ed reply: On the off chance this is sincere, and not just aimed at winding me up as the Brits say, I take it all back. You're right. My perceptive apparatus has failed, my bullshit detector is broken. It snowed today in Boonville and, hell, seemed to me it was 90 degrees! Then I yelled at The Major that he forgot to mow the lawn, and damned if he didn't deny having a lawn. An old lady dropped by to pay for her sub and got all huffy when I said to her, “Hey, baby, how about a smooch?” But Biden's sound as a dollar? The dollar isn't particularly sound, and neither is the president, a corporate bagman all his years in public “service” from which he has emerged a multi-millionaire and, of all things, president of the SS Sinking Ship. From his mincing little prostate steps, to his slurring of the simple messages written for him by his handlers that he bumbles through on his teleprompters, to his being ordered by those same handlers not to take freeform questions from the media jackals because he's apt to launch into crazy talk, only the Democratic (sic) Party, the same people who put up the only woman in America (maybe the world) who could have lost to Trump, could foist this guy off on the deluded half of the American people. (The other half of the American people is even more deluded, and both halves translate as, in the words of a prior moron inserted into our country's top spot, “This sucker is going down.”) Betcha I could pull twenty people out of the Boonville Senior Center noon chow line more fit than Biden to be running this weirder than weird show.