POST OFFICE BLUES — MANY OF OUR PRINT SUBSCRIBERS ARE COMPLAINING THAT THEIR PAPERS ARE A WEEK LATE IF THEY SHOW UP AT ALL. OUR COLLEAGUES AT THE ICO IN GUALALA ARE ALSO BEDEVILED BY THEIR NEWSPAPERS DISAPPEARING INTO THE POST OFFICE'S MYSTERIOUS MAW. SEVERAL WEEKS AGO A LADY FROM THE PETALUMA DISTRIBUTION CENTER CALLED US TO SAY SHE WAS ON THE CASE. SERVICE PROMPTLY BECAME WORSE. ANOTHER GUY CALLED LAST WEEK FOR A PHOTO OF OUR FRONT PAGE. MAYBE HE NEEDED A VISUAL TO ACCOMPANY A GOVERNMENT MEMO. “THIS IS A NEWSPAPER. IT COMES FROM BOONVILLE. THE BOONVILLE NEWSPAPER PAYS US A LOT OF MONEY EVERY WEEK FOR US TO GET THEIR PAPER WHERE IT'S SUPPOSED TO GO. WE AREN'T DOING THAT. THE PEOPLE AT THE BOONVILLE PAPER ARE GETTING VERY ANGRY. I AM INFORMED THEY ARE NOT AVERSE TO FORCE AND VIOLENCE TO ENSURE THAT THEIR PAPERS ARE DELIVERED. PLEASE DELIVER THEIR PAPERS. THANK YOU.”
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COUNTY CEO CARMEL ANGELO reports this week that County employees and retirees (and the County itself) are looking at some potentially large increases in health insurance costs. Prior rate increases have caused large numbers of employees and retirees to simply give up on the County’s health insurance plan because it’s too expensive. Now, it's about to get even more expensive.
THOSE WHO REMAIN in the plan are the ones most in need of health care, and claims among the remaining enrollees are up substantially. Fewer enrollees, higher costs demanded by the usual greed-squeeze from the insurance corporations, combine to excerbate a “death spiral.”
THE COUNTY is considering reducing coverage, raising deductibles and co-pays, and so on, further worsening the death spiral. The particulars of how bad this is are still being analyzed. But it doesn’t take 33 consultants (like the ones advising the Retirement Board) to determine that whatever ends up being negotiated with the employees union will be a another circle down the death spiral.
THE 7,000-ACRE WYE FIRE in Lake County is burning to the east, away from Clearlake Oaks. It began as two separate fires but is now considered one big conflagration fed by extremely hot weather, very low humidity and open, dry rangeland. It is still only 30% contained as of Tuesday afternoon.
THE BLAZE, one of two along Highway 20 of suspicious origin that began Sunday afternoon, broke out near Spring Valley east of Clearlake Oaks. More than 1,000 firefighters are now on-scene. Two people, including one firefighter, have been injured, but not seriously. Two structures have been destroyed.
ON SATURDAY, September 8th, Anderson Valley Land Trust is hosting its 3rd Annual Anderson Valley Sustainable Landscape Discoveries. It is an all day field trip to two exemplary food producing gardens. In the morning we will visit Filigreen Farm, a high-density, biodynamic farm developed and managed by Chris and Stephanie Tebbutt, featuring apples, pears, blueberries, peaches, olives for oil production, wine and table grapes. A locally-grown lunch prepared by Boont Berry Farm will be served in their redwood grove. We will then venture to Petit Teton, an 8-year old organic family farm owned and operated by Nikki Ausschnitt and Steven Krieg. Their farming style uses permaculture concepts, with careful management of land and water resources. They have 100 chickens for egg production, 4 yaks for grazing, and grow a wide range of seasonal fruits and vegetables emphasizing heirloom varietals. They recently planted an orchard of 50 pear and apple varieties, most of them grafted on the farm. To wrap up the day we will visit 2M Philo Gardens. More info at 895-3150 or andersonvalleylandtrust.org.
THE ABOVE TOUR is highly recommended. Having visited the transformed hillside comprising Petite Teton, the scope and energy of the enterprise dropped my jaw to my shoe tops. It's a very interesting and productive farm where you wouldn't expect to find one and, I might add, a farm that comes with a lot of ingenious strategies for growing things on unpromising land. And Chris and Stephanie Tebbutt, as locals already know, are a couple of green thumbed geniuses. Their farm directly west off Anderson Valley Way, with its pond and orchards set against the west hills, is one of the great beauty spots of Mendocino County.
MEMO OF THE DAY, courtesy Associated Press: August 2, Associated Press – (National) ‘IRS missing billions in ID theft.’ The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may have delivered more than $5 billion in refund checks to identity thieves who filed fraudulent tax returns for 2011, Treasury Department investigators said August 2. They estimated another $21 billion could make its way to ID thieves’ pockets over the next 5 years. The IRS detected far fewer fraudulent tax refund claims than actually occur, a government audit stated. Although the IRS detected about 940,000 fraudulent returns for 2011 claiming $6.5 billion in refunds, there were potentially another 1.5 million undetected cases of thieves seeking refunds after assuming the identity of a dead person, child, or someone else who normally would not file a tax return. Topping the list of concerns was the IRS’s lack of timely access to third-party information it needs to verify returns and root out fraud. Due to the gap between when taxpayers can start filing returns and when employers and financial institutions are required to submit withholding and income documents to taxpayers, the IRS often issues refunds before it can confirm the information on the returns. Of the 1.5 million undetected cases of potential fraud, 1.2 million used direct deposits. (Source: http://www.boston.com/business/personal-finance/taxes/2012/08/02/irs-missing-billions-theft/vHJriJPNyuc1NuTANdzLHL/story.html)
WHY NOT VERIFY the legitimacy of a return prior to mailing out the refund check? In this instance, and perhaps this instance only, the government is efficient to a fault. God forbid millionaires and cybercrooks should have to wait for their refund checks.