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Off The Record

THE GOLDEN STATE'S government has discovered $119 million more in hidden funds, the Governor's office has announced. These millions are in accounts for healthcare programs, reimbursement of crime victims and cleanup of underground petroleum tanks. This money brings the total amount of previously unknown millions to more than $286.5 million.

THE GUV, as he slashed state programs, including State parks, has proposed spending $20 million of the uncovered money for park maintenance and for matching the private donations that ultimately kept the parks open.

STATE OFFICIALS have found 68 accounts whose bottom lines varied by at least $1 million. The administration attributed most of the imbalances to different accounting methods, but hundreds of millions were the result of errors including typos, omitted interest or miscalculated revenue.

THE SLOPPY BOOKKEEPING threatens to sabotage Brown's tax initiative on the November ballot as many of us conclude that State government generally can't be trusted to keep track of the money it does have

RONI McFADDEN of Willits has done, and continues to do, much heavy lifting in defense of animal protections, especially horses. Her children's book "Josephine" is a charming book that makes a perfect gift for the little ones. Roni has a new book out available from Amazon and, presumably, local bookstores. It's called “The Longest Trail,” a coming of age account especially relevant to young girls.

ANGELA PINCHES, daughter of 3rd District supervisor John Pinches, was sentenced today in Mendocino County Superior court to three years supervised probation on a felony charge of maintaining a place where marijuana is stored or manufactured. Judge John Behnke also sentenced Ms. Pinches to 60 days in the County Jail, but said she's eligible to serve her time in alternative programs via work release or electronic monitoring. As a condition of her probation Ms. Pinches will be subject to search and drug testing. She has already been sentenced to four years of probation on a child endangerment charge arising from an arrest that began when her two-year-old daughter was found unattended down the street from Ms. Pinches' home in Redwood Valley. Responding deputies subsequently discovered a large amount of marijuana at her home.

ACCORDING to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration July was the hottest month ever in the United States, hotter even than the Dust Bowl summer of 1936. The country's average temperature was 77.6 degrees F (25.3 degrees C) which is 3.3 degrees higher than the 20th century average. Record keeping began in 1895; they show that the previous warmest month was July 1936 when the average temperature across the nation was 77.4 (25.2 degrees C) degrees F. This summer’s catastrophes have included devastating fires in Colorado, tornadoes ravaging Washington DC and crops drying out across the Midwest.

MENDO CRIME OF THE WEEK: A 41-year-old Santa Cruz man was arrested in Willits during a traffic stop after he was found carrying $62,800 in cash allegedly derived from marijuana sales, Mendocino County sheriff's officials said. A deputy pulled Jason Anderson over on South Main Street near Highway 20 in Willits at about 9pm Tuesday for an unspecified traffic violation, Lt. Kirk Mason said. During the stop, a police dog trained in drug detection signaled to the deputy, launching a search of the car. The deputy found bundles of cash in numerous bill denominations in a backpack as well as a bag of pot and a pipe on the ground under the vehicle, Mason said. Anderson declined to explain where the cash and pot came from, according to Mason. Anderson was arrested on suspicion of having proceeds acquired from drug transactions and booked into the Mendocino County Jail. The cash was seized. Jason Anderson posted $10,000 bail and was released, according to arrest records.

WHICH MEANS the County of Mendocino made money Tuesday, better than $62,000, and also means that X number of persons, noting that Anderson was driving around with better than sixty grand, decided to go into the marijuana business. If Mr. Anderson can prove he was just taking his dough for a country drive, airing it out so to speak, he'll get it back. But if you drive around loaded, well, 62 grand is a lotta dumb to pay for doing it.

STATE LEGISLATORS have ordered the State Auditor to investigate the “culture of deception and entitlement” that enabled Parks to hide $54 million in special funds over a dozen years. Since it was discovered last month that State Parks had stashed $54 million in two special funds while at the same time soliciting private funds to keep dozens of parks from closing, State Parks has become a sort of poster child for state mismanagement, although millions more in stashed public funds have since been found hidden away unaccounted for by other state bureaucracies.

THE STATE AUDITOR'S OFFICE has been directed to find out how long the hidden money had been accumulating; how the Parks Department reports financial data to the Finance Department and state Controller's office; and whether State Controller's office has the ability to ensure the data is accurate.

THEY WISH NOW they'd googled Trinity Managment “because we'd never have rented from them.”

HERE'S THE STORY, one I happened to be in on as friends of the ripped off family of three — a young man, his young wife and their two-year-old. Until a couple of weeks ago, the young family had been living in Washington DC where the young man worked as a mathematician for the government. Desperate to get out of DC, the young man, whose skills are much in demand, found a job with a start-up in San Francisco. The young couple immediately went on-line looking for a rental in Baghdad by the Bay. They soon had a list of possibles. My wife and I were delegated to look at these possibles and report back to them.

WE SPENT a weekend shuffling to “open houses,” all of them crammed with so many young people looking for shelter that we applicants spilled out into the halls. Landlords have never had it so good. Even in rural Boonville they're getting rents out of all proportion to the value of what they're renting, assuming value is not established solely by demand. Which it is in an unregulated capitalist economy like ours.

I THOUGHT BACK to when I was a kid in SF. For under $200 I always found a place, often a two-bedroom, either in the Mission or the Haight-Ashbury. I even found one once at Sacramento and Stockton in Chinatown for $200. That was in 1969.

THE APARTMENTS we looked at in July of 2012, 43 years later, were going from $2500 and up. To move in to one of these charmless, one-bedroom cubbyholes the renter would have to come up with $6 thousand, which seemed to explain the older people, presumably parents and grandparents, accompanying many of the young people begging the landlord or his haughty rep to please-o-please sir consider them.

MY YOUNG FRIENDS were in a hurry. Mister had a job in SF that started yesterday. They'd found a place on-line at 2200 Jackson that was advertised as move-in ready. The ad came with photos purporting to be the advertised unit, which turned out to be photos of another place, but we didn't figure that out until it was too late.

WE WENT TO SEE the place for ourselves so we could report back to our friends. It was a tiny one bedroom dump, and I speak here as a person who spent his youth living in Frisco dumps, including wino dumps south of Market with fetid bathrooms down the hall. But this dump was at 2200 Jackson in the upper Fillmore, a dull neighborhood traditionally favored by the haute bourgeoisie. And it was a dump.

ADVERTISED as live-in ready, this place had no tile in the shower, no showerhead, no countertops or cabinet doors. The seal on the bay window was eroded and looked ready to fall into the street. A two-year-old toddler would have a good chance of doing a three-story header. And the place hadn't been cleaned. A welcoming turd had been left floating in the unflushed commode in a tiny bathroom reeking of urine. $2600 a month for this?

THE NICE LADIES at Trinity Management promised us that the apartment would be fully ready for safe occupancy by the time young Mister arrived to start work at his new job, Missus and Child to follow. It could be done. I've moved in to less promising shelter.

THE YOUNG FAMILY ponied up the required six grand long-distance. They assumed they'd secured a conventionally hygienic apartment in a serene neighborhood. We'd warned them that it needed some work but nothing that couldn't be accomplished in the weekend promised by the smiling ladies at Trinity Management, secure in their ground floor office in a concrete high rise at 2000 Broadway, an awful building in a block of awful buildings in that soul-destroying wasteland between Van Ness on the east and Dianne Feinstein's mausoleum to the west in Pacific Heights. San Francisco looks great from the Golden Gate Bridge but up close much of it is pure Fresno.

WHEN THE TENANT arrived the Sunday afternoon before the Monday morning he was to begin his new job, his six thousand dollar apartment had been gutted. It had been merely dirty and in need of minor repairs when we'd seen it a few days before. A major rehab was now underway. The space had become totally uninhabitable and seemed likely to stay that way for some time.

THE YOUNG TENANTS asked Trinity to nullify the lease. The nice ladies at 2000 Broadway answered with an emphatic NO. They informed the young tenants that not only would Trinity Management not cancel the rental agreement that Trinity had clearly violated, but the young family was now responsible for paying the rent on their unlivable apartment until a new tenant could be found! And, the nice ladies at Trinity Management added, the young family's rent was now $2799, the lease agreement for $2600 for six months having been unilaterally adjusted upwards by $199.

AND THE NICE LADIES at Trinity, now referred to by us as the Bunko Babes, and moving seamlessly from larceny to straight-up fraud, blithely went on to say that they'd told the young couple about the condition of the apartment and that the young couple had said that they would accept the place as it was. Which they might have done if, in the interim, the apartment hadn't become a major remodel site. But they hadn't agreed to move into the place as they found it, gutted and less habitable than a doorway on a cold street.

AS OF THE SECOND week of August, our young friends are paying a big rent on an apartment they cannot and will not live in. We've got our war paint on. Trinity won't get away with this, and we shall see what we shall see.

THAT KID wanted for murder in Texas, Zachary Ryan Price, age 20, had attended the Gaia Festival at Wavy Gravy's Camp Wancha Cash, aka Black Oak Ranch, north of Laytonville, before he was arrested last Thursday. Price was arrested when the California Highway Patrol at Garberville received a tip of an unoccupied white 2000 Pontiac Bonneville with Texas plates parked by the side of the road near the Black Oak Ranch. The vehicle was registered out of Cedar Park, Texas, not far from Liberty Hill, Texas, where Price is the sole suspect in the stabbing death of his stepfather.

ACCORDING TO TEXAS news accounts, Price reportedly said his stepfather, 51-year-old Richard Meyers, “deserved it." Witnesses told police that Richard Meyers yelled that he had been stabbed and for someone to call 911. First responders found him lying on the kitchen floor, but were unable to save his life. Detectives noted that Meyers had been stabbed at least four times in the upper torso and had suffered what appeared to be defensive cuts to both of his hands.

THE JULY 3rd stabbing apparently began after an argument Price had with his mother about the death of a cat, and that during the argument, Price became angry and punched the wall hard enough to damage it. At that point, the stepfather stepped in and the argument continued in the kitchen and became physical. Detectives said it was during the struggle in the kitchen that Price grabbed a large kitchen knife and stabbed Richard Meyers several times. A teenage witness reportedly stated, ‘why did you do that? You’re going to jail now,’ to which the defendant reportedly responded, ‘He deserved it. As of Monday, the kid was being held in the Mendocino County Jail awaiting extradition.

COAST HOSPITAL STAFF told the Hospital Board at its July 26th meeting that the 3% raise agreed to in their existing contract which was recently reinstated when the employees’ union lawyer wrote a letter to the hospital saying not paying it was a possibly illegal “unilateral” action, will cost about $650,000. In “return,” the union will “work with” Hospital management to lift Coast from fiscal peril, perhaps by reducing their employee health insurance costs.

WE’VE ALWAYS WONDERED why the Hospital can’t provide at least some healthcare to their own employees without routing care through a private insurance that Coast has to pay the usual exorbitant middleman fee to. Whenever we bring this question up we’re told that it’s not an option because insurance companies won’t cooperate. The contradiction that a Hospital can’t provide healthcare to its own employees without an insurance company taking a rake off is probably the best indicator of how screwed up US healthcare/health insurance is these days.

HOSPITAL CEO Ray Hino told the Board late last month that he was “very pleased” that the union was willing to discuss healthcare benefits. “I feel it is our best opportunity to work together between our hospital, major creditors and labor union to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement that will allow us to resolve some of our financial issues.”

“MAJOR CREDITORS,” besides the employees, would be doctors, equipment and service providers and pharmaceutical companies. Exactly how the Hospital will “work with” them is unclear, although in the past Hino has said that he intended to review the Hospital’s contractual arrangements with its physicians. The fact that there has been no report of any savings in those contracts probably means that the doctors have not cooperated in solving the Hospital’s “financial issues.” The equipment suppliers historically have not been willing to reduce their charges, but sometimes they will allow the Hospital to delay payments. And Pharmaceutical companies? Don’t ask.

ACCORDING to Coast Hospital’s financial manager, Wayne Allen, total revenues are up a bit from last year but costs — including the aforementioned health insurance for employees — rose more than revenues by several million dollars with the imbalance expected to continue. Why? Inpatient admissions have decreased, a nice way of saying that more and more people don’t have insurance and can’t afford hospitalization, pharmaceutical sales are down because people can’t afford as much medication, and Medicare reimbursements are expected to decrease.

THE PICTURE IS GRIM for Mendocino County's only publicly-owned medical center. The Hospital Foundation, a fundraising non-profit that provides occasional infusions of cash might produce some more money but Mendocino County's countless array of non-profits are, at this point in our imploding economy, competing for a disappearing donor base. No one is talking about a new bond issue or a ballot measure to increase the Hospital District’s parcel fee, an option often discussed a few years ago when the Hospital faced a budget gap arising from profligate management practices. Perhaps in the present economic climate, management has calculated that an increase in the Hospital's parcel tax would be unlikely to pass, although voters approved a small boost in local taxes to fund the much less crucial CV Starr Rec Center.

MENDOCINO COUNTY regularly bemoans its lack of any discretionary money for such things as adequate adult mental health services at the County Jail, to name one service we're doing without that ultimately drives up public costs to everyone.

BUT THERE ALWAYS SEEMS to be plenty of public money for more bureaucrats, and assistant bureaucrats. On Tuesday, the Supervisors are poised to approve a $66,000 job for an assistant to their recently hired Retirement Administrator, Richard White, a retired Orange County Sheriff’s sergeant and former bigwig with the State Association of Retirement Systems. Mendo's great Retirement Administrators of yesteryear did without assistants.

SGT. WHITE, with the approval of his captive Retirement Board, thinks that even though Mendocino County is broke and the County’s Retirement System has lost tens of millions in total value and investment returns, he needs the County to pay someone $66k a year to “prepare and maintain reports such as annual financial statements, the annual Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR), and annual State Controller’s Office report; coordinate with the independent financial auditor; monitor investments; assist the Retirement Administrator with development of financial and accounting policies and procedures; etc.”

WHICH READS like came directly from Sarge's own job description, the one that pays him something like $165k a year plus the usual generous array of perks, a pay package that comes on top of whatever retirement he’s already drawing as a retired cop.

AND YOU THOUGHT you were paying too much for former Retirement Administrator Jim Andersen? (You were, of course.) Andersen, natch, is still on the County’s payroll too, but as a “consultant/advisor” to Sarge.

CALLING John Sakowicz! Calling Ted Stevens! Calling Deputy Craig Walker. Whazzup with this? State Parks and Recreation?

THE MOTHER OF ALL SCREW JOBS is underway in Gualala. To simplify without over simplifying, when the highly popular Bones Road House and Restaurant burned down in September of 2009, Bones, aka Mike Thomas, had a liquor license he’d leased from the family of Eric Price.

THE FIRE, to put it gently, was suspicious, and it became even more suspicious when Eric Price, funded by his wealthy parents, built his own restaurant on the site of, you could say, Mike Thomas’s Bones. You could also say that Price’s restaurant and the accompanying motel he erected are as unpopular with locals as Price is himself. Locals are critical of everything from the food at Price’s Shoreline Restaurant to the architectural aesthetics of the thing. And then they assess Price’s unfortunate personality, which South Coast people characterize as rude, arrogant, ruthless, and at least partly chemically enhanced in a way that doesn’t make Price, a veteran of drug and alcohol rehab programs, any more beguiling.

MIKE THOMAS is a long-time resident of the area. He's highly popular with locals not only for his personal charm but for the quality of his enterprise. He’s also one of these essential community guys who quietly does a lot of good for people apart from employing 23 of them. The South Coast is unanimously in support of Thomas and hopping mad that he's clearly the victim of, in Thomas's description, “a demon.”

THOMAS managed to get a new Bones Road House and Restaurant up and running only to be slowly garroted by Price who clearly resents the popularity of Thomas’s revived business, which is in direct competition with Price's, especially for local business upon which local businesses depend, especially in the non-tourist winter months.

WHEN THOMAS RE-BOOTED BONES, Price said Thomas’s liquor license had reverted to him and his parents. Logic would indicate that the license went on hold while Thomas re-built. But Price insisted the license had reverted to his family. He went to court and somehow won a judgment against Thomas, a very large judgment which, with the usual attorney's fees, interest and mysterious add-ons, has driven the judgment from $80,000 to $214,842.98. That amount is impossible for Thomas to pay. That amount would be difficult for most Mendo businesses to pay, impossible for Thomas as he rebuilds after that Price-convenient fire put Thomas out of business in 2009.

VIA A THUGGISH LEGAL STRATAGEM called a “Keeper's Levy,” good for eight-hour periods on a day-to-day basis, a posse of deputized till tappers has twice now swooped down on Bones and grabbed all the money in the till, $529 on their initial raid, another $430 the next day. Price is rumored to observe the badged till tappers as they looted his rival’s business in a way that's designed to put Thomas out of business, not recover money owed.

IF THESE “KEEPER'S LEVY” RAIDS on Bones continue on a regular basis, Thomas will be put out of business, which would suit Price just fine. To that end Price's Keeper of the Levy has court-ordered Thomas's books and bank records. Price just might wind up with the guy's shoes and socks.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “THE BOOK OF MORMON. The book seems to be merely a prosy detail of imaginary history, with the Old Testament for a model; followed by a tedious plagiarism of the New Testament. The author labored to give his words and phrases that quaint, old-fashioned sound and structure of our King James's translation of the Scriptures; and the result is a mongrel — half modern glibness, and half ancient simplicity and gravity. The latter is awkward and constrained; the former natural, but grotesque by the contrast. Whenever he found his speech growing too modern — which was about every sentence or two — he ladled in a few such Scriptural phrases as ‘…exceeding sore,’ and ‘…it came to pass,’ etc., and made things satisfactory again. 'And it came to pass' was his pet. If he had left that out, his Bible would have been only a pamphlet.” (— Mark Twain)

FRIDAY'S LA TIMES editorialized that Arcata's panhandling ordinance, enacted in 2010, “…is too broad and too punitive, emblematic of the excesses that many municipalities succumb to in confronting the unsightly but all too human problems associated with panhandling.” Like LA is in a position to lecture anyone on civic strategies.

IF THE ORDINANCE is too tough, if the Arcata cops are hassling outtathere the slobs, dope heads, drunks, and crazy people hanging out at the Arcata Plaza, could have fooled me. Last time I drove through post-ordinance there seemed to be more of them than there were pre-ordinance. That said, so what? Walk on by. If you're the one in a million who happens to get jumped and injured chalk it up to bad luck. Given the choice of running a gauntlet composed of people who look like Mitt Romney or one composed of Arcata Plaza people, I'd choose the Plaza skells.

WE USED to have a street person in Boonville. When he briefly had a girlfriend we had two street persons. But she drank herself to death and he stopped drinking altogether, got himself an apartment in Fort Bragg and hasn't been seen on the street since.

THERE ARE LOTS of street people in Ukiah, a platoon of them in Mendocino, what seems like a regiment of them in Fort Bragg, very few in Willits because Willits is short on food kitchens. The Gateway to the Redwood Empire functions only as the gate to points north and south. No succor there. In Ukiah and Fort Bragg the police spend a lot of time responding to complaints about transients and/or the homeless as they're non-specifically euphemized. No one in local public life or the local media, save Tommy Wayne Kramer, dare describe street people broadly as bums. Which is what some of them are. Most, however, are chronic drunks, drug cripples and crazy people, or anti-social to the point where their public behavior, and it's all public because even if housing were available they're unable to reasonably inhabit it, is so offensive it's unfair to the neighborhood to shelter them. Ms. Kelisha Alvarez of Ukiah, the 400-pound rambling wrecking ball, is Exhibit A of the last category. She's not officially 5150 but she's beyond any known social pale.

CHRONIC DRUNKS, non-functioning dopers and crazy people used to be taken care of on the humane assumption that they could be re-tooled back to civility for their sakes and ours. But what we have now, thanks to the Romney-brains, and as seconded by the Obama “liberals,” is open air asylums, which make “the commons” a lot more exciting than they used to be, but a sad commentary on how far we've fallen as a society.

THE UKIAH HYPOCRITES clustered around the Methodist Church who feed only the sober, most presentable street people a couple of times a week on the understanding that they get the hell out of the Westside before the sun comes up are a handy metaphor for the mentality that gets in the way of the politics of actually doing something helpful for people unable to help themselves. There's a whole industry of obstacle parasites in San Francisco clustered in the good jobs at non-profits. Every time someone says “compulsion” or “mandatory” here come the phonies, many of them paid, to scream, essentially, “The homeless have the right to die on the streets.” The larger society, half of which is now gearing up to pretend there's an essential difference between Romney and Obama, has largely bought the huge lie that there's no money to do anything about much of anything except kill Mohammedans. What we've achieved is a sort of social gridlock, a perfect social entropy, a society of unaffiliated Thanatoids.

ACCORDING TO THE FRESHLY RELEASED Mendo crop report for 2011, wine grapes were the County's top earner, again coming out ahead of timber. Timber production took a dramatic dive in 2001, and plummeted again in 2009 when the Second Great Depression began. Timber recovered somewhat in 2010 and 2011 but it’s still at historically low value levels of $59 million in 2011. Grapes sold for a total of $72 million, a figure that does not include retail wine production.

PINOT NOIR was by far the most valuable wine grape, although the most Mendo acreage, by far, is planted in chardonnay. Pinot grapes sold for an average of $2500 a ton, other varieties went for between $850 and $1300 per ton on average. Chardonnay sold for only $1,050 a ton.

CHARDONNAY produced at almost four tons of grapes per acre, Pinot 2.5 tons per acre. In the much warmer Central Valley, Concord, Thompson seedless and other high-volume wine grapes can produce upwards of 20 tons of grapes per acre.

OTHER MENDO AG PRODUCTS include pears, cattle, milk, pastureland (i.e., grazing permits), and nurseries. There were 88 acres of olives and 41 acres of walnuts in commercial production. 9200 head of sheep and lambs and 1500 four-footed pigs remind us that a few traditional ranchers hang on. “Miscellaneous livestock” was described as goats, pigeons, poultry, rabbits, turkeys, bison, and in a surprise to us, farmed fish. (Where is fish farmed? That place on the outskirts of Fort Bragg that stocks ponds?) Including the farmed fish, all of these enterprises were valued at about $800,000.

MENDO PRODUCERS sold almost $5 million in milk. Wool came in at about $67,000. About $900,000 worth of Mendo-grown vegetables was sold, plus $11 million in “field crops,” mostly hay and whatever Doug Mosel's got going.

COMMERCIAL FISHING reached a ten year high in 2011 of almost $12.5 million with the primary commercial fish production being sablefish, Chinook salmon, red sea urchin, and Dungeness crab.

THE COUNTY’S largest cash crop is, of course, marijuana, but it officially doesn't exist so far as the annual Ag Report is concerned. (A Mendo Ag Commissioner was fired years ago for including an estimated value of the pot crop.) The extent to which marijuana dominates local politics isn’t entirely clear, but it occupies a lot of public discussion with all five members of the Board of Supervisors on record favoring its legalization. Wine and wine grapes are assumed by the Supervisors to be a wonderful thing.

AS THE FORT BRAGG POLICE served a search warrant Wednesday in the 300 block of North Harrison Street, they found an entire apartment creatively wired to serve an indoor marijuana grow. All of the rooms of the home, police said, were dedicated to “either grow, process or dry the marijuana.” More than 200 plants and a pound of dried marijuana were confiscated.

THE FBPD called out the County Drug Task Force, the Fort Bragg Fire Department and Pacific Gas & Electric to consider what to do with an “entire apartment having several safety code violations due to issues with electrical wires.” The assembled police, firemen and PG&E personnel quickly concluded that the building's power supply should be shut off. Nathan J. Grimes, 46, was identified as the proprietor of the gro op. He's being sought.

IN ANOTHER APARTMENT in the same building, police located more than a pound of marijuana in each room, including those rooms containing underage persons. Dawn Tolle, 41, was arrested on suspicion of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and child abuse, and a 16-year-old was arrested on suspicion of possessing marijuana and related paraphernalia.

JAMES GUNBY 34, of Fort Bragg was arrested Tuesday afternoon for driving his motorcycle at a dangerously high rate of speed through town. Police soon determined that Gunby himself was dangerously high on methamphetamine — either that or he was simply more animated than most Coast residents. Concluding that Gunby was indeed chemically excited, and finding more than 20 grams of methamphetamine, syringes and other items associated with drug sales in his saddlebags, Gunby was taken into custody. He was booked at Mendocino County Jail on suspicion of selling and possessing meth, being a felon with a firearm, not registering as a sex offender and being under the influence of a controlled substance.

METHAMPHETAMINE is all over Mendocino County. There isn't a community anywhere, from Gualala to Covelo, where it isn't readily available. Police have the ongoing difficulty of getting at the major suppliers, assumed to be Mexican nationals who bring the drug readymade from Mexico to area dealers who are legal immigrants. The legal immigrants, embedded in the community, then distribute this evil drug to their local customers. Undercover cops are frustrated by the Buy Local strategies of the community-level dealers who won't sell to new people unless those people take the drug with them. Few cops want to do that.

SO, DOCTOR AVA, why do people take a drug that compels psychotic behavior, makes their teeth fall out and destroys them and everyone around them? Son, we can only speculate, but the eschatology of it seems to be a fundamental recognition in certain individuals that they're objectively screwed and, via the magic powder, and until they crash and burn, for a short while they are persuaded that they're not only happier than they've ever been and will be happier yet if they can just get this carburetor back together for the fiftieth time in 48 hours.

IT'S NOT FUNNY really. We all see the crankers because they're everywhere, walking around looking like the corpses they'll soon be. A lady I remember from her high school years who I thought was the smartest kid I'd seen graduate from Boonville Prep in a long time, a young woman from rough circumstances who I was sure would make a good life for herself so long as she could get herself outtahere, well, Here got her first. She was in her early twenties when I saw her with a bad man three times her age, and then I saw her at a community event and had to look twice at her before I could see who she was. Or had been. She was completely gone into those uncontrolled spasm-like arm movements that tweakers get when they've been speeding for a couple of weeks. I'm sure all of you have your own horror stories. Short of neighborhood knee-capping committees, nothing can be done.

DOUG CRANE AND MARI RODIN are unopposed for re-election to the Ukiah City Council. From here in Boonville, we'd say Crane is a conscientious guy while Rodin seems merely unconscious or maybe semi-conscious. Crane told the Ukiah Daily Journal that “╔there's still a bunch of stuff that I'm willing to struggle to get changed╔ The city has more staff than we have income to support. We have to have a discussion about what things are going to be done the same, done differently or not done at all. We either take charge or let it happen to us, and I'm willing to put in four more years to help (us take the proper steps).”

RODIN was "unavailable for comment," the Journal's reporter, Justine Frederickson, wrote, but we understand that the Council's three perceived “liberals” aren't talking to the Journal because they think editor KC Meadows has been unfairly critical of them. There's a lot to be critical of, especially the recent garbage agreement the City entered into. That deal was irrefutably critiqued by the Grand Jury and, natch, the three “liberals” denounced the Grand Jury.

A READER WRITES: "A couple of weeks ago KZYX General Manager John Coate was on hand for the bi-weekly Friday afternoon open topic call-in program hosted by Doug McKenty, probably in anticipation of a flurry of angry callers protesting the firing of newsman Dave Brooksher, the cancellation of the daily half-hour community news report, and more NPR news in its place (announced earlier that week.) Indeed, that was the case. While Coate attempted to seem sincere and forthright with his reasons, he came off sounding more like the Artful Dodger. He was defensive, circumlocutory, and downright snarky to a couple of callers. He explained that running NPR programming, and receiving it from a certain satellite, requires buying a “package,” sort of like a club membership. So, with increasingly dwindling station revenue — cutbacks on grants, fewer memberships during the recent pledge drives, etc. — it would save money to jettison the community news and the news man (salary & benefits) and just run more NPR, apparently already paid for in the “package.” He repeatedly expressed his belief (which he reiterated at the station board public meeting a few days later, according to Sheila Dawn's most recent KZYX report) that current volunteer programmers could make up for the loss by covering more local stories on their own shows. Disingenuous. Lame. If I want to know why traffic was horribly snarled today on 128 between Yorkville and Cloverdale, with ambulances and helicopters all over the place, I'm not going to hear about it on the Farm and Garden Show or Women's Voices. There's another aspect to it that Coate won't cop to, publicly anyway: the remaining big check writers all LOVE NPR. There's no way in hell he'll do anything to alienate them. Ironically, several of the callers that Friday afternoon said they had stopped giving money to the station precisely because of all the NPR programming. (I know others who have done the same.) Was Coate sitting there with a spreadsheet and calculator comparing their tithes to those of the NPR worshippers? It was unstated, but implied in his reasoning. So it appears that KZYX, like the small countries in Southern Europe, is in an austerity death-spiral. Less membership revenue = more NPR; more NPR = less membership revenue, and so on. That raises another issue of possible relevance: in the current crappy local and county economy, the sub-culture of true political progressives and radicals may be much more cash-strapped than they were several years ago and less able to give to the station even if they want to. Thus, the well-heeled, the golden parachuted retirees, and the millionaire second-housers who've been trickling into the county during the past decade or so — many of them politically center-right or Lexus Libs — increasingly can influence programming with the power of the purse. Give them Wait Wait Don't Tell Me! over Democracy Now! any day. This is not the place to launch into a lengthy historical critique of NPR news. Suffice it to point out that if we peel away the platitudes and occasionally interesting human experience stories, we are left with: a fealty to militarism, market fundamentalism, consumerism, conformism to hugely corrupt politics, and a timidity or unwillingness to challenge power and the propaganda of power — a group of bourgeois stenographers indistinguishable from the corporate, palace court press; a complacent, insulated, inside-the-beltway bubble commentariat talking to each other, more concerned with the minutiae of the latest Department of Whatever manipulated economic report than the suffering of nearly half of all Americans. As but one example of NPR obtuseness, a few days ago they did a story on the predicted increase of surveillance drones over the US. They began by noting the cost savings and logistical benefits it will have for law enforcement agencies nationwide. They added “balance” with a 3.5 second soundbite from one spokesperson from a civil liberties group. But the major take-away of the report was not cheaper law enforcement or the ominous threat to privacy rights. No, the main issue for NPR news was: there's a lot of money to be made! The explosion of spy drone sales will be an opportunity for entrepreneurs and might even lead to another high-tech boom which will be good for the economy! As I and no doubt other listeners were lifting our jaws off the floor and shaking our heads at the unnerving prospect of our nation's skies filled with flying spy-bots, it's likely a not insignificant number of the NPR lovers were rubbing their chins and thinking: 'Hmmm. I'll call my stockbroker in the morning and have him look into that’.”

KZYX could do a quick cure by firing Coate and demoting Mary Aigner to some place where she doesn't deal with other people. A non-profit of any kind with unpleasant persons up front is a doomed non-profit. Structurally, though, the KZYX board of directors is unlikely to fire anybody. The board has always been rigged in a way that Nambo is certain to replace Pambo, elections always having been dominated by a shrinking cadre of insiders. Lately, Nambo and Pambo, have been recent arrivals in the County with no institutional knowledge of their public radio station's history or any apparent curiosity about that history. The only person on that board whose name I recognize is Holly Madrigal, a nice person from Willits whose politics seem to consist entirely of being a nice person. Lots of unhappy listeners complain there's too much NPR or too much crazy talk or too much leftist dirge-type news, or too much bluegrass music or, in Beth Bosk's memorable description, too much Dead White Man's music. (As a 4/5 Dead White Man I took immediate offense.) But there's plenty of air time for everyone and everything. Or should be in a county like this one where no two people are likely to agree on much of anything. Smart, sophisticated management would build exciting radio on that very assumption. Smart, exciting public radio has been done, not that there seems to be any in-County awareness that it's been done. Even NPR, away from its nuzzlebumming, gutless politics and the nauseating fake bonhomie of its simpering hosts, does some stuff well. The root of the prob here in Philo, however, is bad management. Coate and Aigner are rude and arrogant, a consensus opinion by the way, not just ours. A visit to station premises is like driving up on a crank lab deep in the hills — unwelcoming, hostile, generally boorish. The station desperately needs intelligent leadership. It's only had intelligent leadership briefly in the twenty tumultuous years of its disappointing history. But Nambo and Pambo haven't got Clue One as more and more people tune permanently out.

One Comment

  1. Jennifer Poole August 15, 2012

    Willits short on food kitchens? my bet is Willits gives away more food per capita than any other town in Mendocino County. There’s brown bag lunches in the park across from City Hall on Saturdays; the Methodist Church food pantry where anyone needing food can get it (they have emergency grocery money, too, but that I’m quite sure doesn’t go to the street guys); and Our Daily Bread, hot homemade soup and bread Monday through Thursday at the Catholic Church, with a “snack bag” provided for Friday. The biggest provider: Willits Food Bank, which as of the latest report distributes more than 20,000 pounds of food each month, serving about 1,100 local people monthly. Another note: the Willits Gleaners: I’m not sure if other towns have followed suit on this idea, but for some years now, Willits volunteers go and harvest extra and unwanted fruit from orchard trees, as well as garden produce, donating all to the food bank, Senior Center, etc. We have our share of what one of my friends who cleans up after them calls “hobos” — lots of bridges in Willits to sleep under and other areas where we know (and the cops know) they sleep.

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