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A VERY WEAK FRONT moved across coastal Del Norte and Humboldt Counties this morning providing clouds and very light rain to those areas. Conditions will gradually clear and warm later today...while all areas will continue to see pleasant and dry winter weather into the weekend and next week. (NWS)
15 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County yesterday afternoon.
CEO CARMEL ANGELO ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
After 14 years of service with Mendocino County, Chief Executive Officer Carmel Angelo has announced she will retire on March 19, 2022.
CEO Angelo served the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors for the past 12 years in her current role. While working with current and past County Boards of Supervisors, Angelo helped navigate and manage the many unexpected issues that faced County government in addition to supporting the day to day essential services the County of Mendocino provides to its residents.
After working 12 years for San Diego County, Angelo joined Mendocino County in 2007 as Director of Health and Human Services. Later in 2009, she served the Executive Office as Assistant CEO. In 2010, the Board of Supervisors appointed Angelo as CEO to fill the position vacated by the sudden retirement of then CEO Tom Mitchell, making Angelo the first female CEO for the County of Mendocino.
Angelo’s role as CEO came at a time of great uncertainty for many Counties, including rural Counties like Mendocino, when the fiscal crisis hit, affecting local government budgets throughout the State. Her background in fiscal discipline supported her work with individual county departments to help the County remain stable throughout her first few years in the Executive Office. This first major challenge would prove helpful as she guided the organization through future challenges, including multiple disastrous fire and flood events and their recovery work to the unprecedented pandemic of the past two years.
Though her work in local government began with the more urban population of San Diego County, Angelo’s heart moved towards advocating for rural counties. “The budgets are smaller, the needs are greater and cost of doing business is almost the same as a larger County. Fighting for the needs of a rural county has been a cause that will always be important to me” Angelo said, reflecting on her decade-plus experience in Mendocino County.
Not only was Angelo instrumental with keeping County Government moving forward with the various County Boards of Supervisors over the years, she also would collaborate with other neighboring counties. In 2015, she was directed by the Board of Supervisors to bring together nearby Counties who were also juggling with forthcoming legal cannabis legislation. In 2015, with Mendocino County hosting, Mendocino and other surrounding Counties produced a statewide policy on proposed legislation which would give voice to the region’s cannabis cultivating Counties in Sacramento.
In addition to her role as CEO, Angelo served in a number of statewide leadership roles including the California Association of County Executives (CACE), where she served as the organization’s President. Also, she served on the Executive Committee of California Association of Counties’ (CSAC) Woman’s Leadership Forum, in addition to earning her CSAC Senior Executive Credential and becoming a CSAC Institute Fellow. In 2017, she received the Distinguished Service Award from CACE. The following year, she received the 2018 President’s Award from Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) due to her rural advocacy. For her years in leadership roles at CSAC, she received the 2019 CSAC Circle of Service Award and most recently received the 2021 CACE President’s Award.
JOHN MCCOWEN ON CEO ANGELO'S RETIREMENT
One of the best decisions I made as Supervisor (along with my colleagues) was hiring Carmel Angelo as CEO. We were dealing with the steepest economic downturn since the Great Depression. The Board of Supervisors adopted tough economic policies to stabilize county finances, pay down debt, build reserves, balance the budget and continue to provide public services. The Board and Angelo took a lot of heat for implementing a 10% pay cut but the alternative was 10% layoffs. The Board set the policies but Angelo provided critical leadership in implementing those policies.
Angelo advocated effectively with State legislative and administrative officials on behalf of Mendocino County. She was instrumental in securing funds for the Redwood Valley water system upgrades and correcting the "over digs" (aka over-excavation) following the 2017 fire storm.
In short order Angelo became Clerk of the Board, Purchasing Agent, Emergency Services Director, Risk Manager, Water Agency Director and the overseer of Recovery Services, Information Services and Fleet and Facilities. Angelo has direct authority over most departments, including Health & Human Services (Mental Health, Public Health & Social Services), Planning and Building Services and Human Resources. She also created a "Fiscal Unit" within the Executive Office. Several of these actions (creation of the Fiscal Unit and taking over Information Services [computers] to name a couple) were done without formal approval by the Board of Supervisors.
As Angelo consolidated power, her unilateral dictates increasingly trumped the professional judgement of the County’s senior managers and department heads. Her orders were often unethical and sometimes illegal but nothing mattered except the CEO getting her way. She became increasingly blatant at ignoring and/or acting without Board of Supervisors direction. The progression of her autocratic tendencies has been a textbook case in the corrupting influence of unchecked power.
Angelo has a tendency to take things personally, won't tolerate dissent and has a notoriously short fuse. Employees have felt her wrath for not having her coffee ready when she comes into the office or simply speaking during a meeting.
Over the years, I was Angelo's foremost defender, but also one of the few Board members (and often the only one) willing to hold her accountable. In my last year in office Angelo retaliated against me for questioning her complicity in illegally diverting $500,000 out of the budget of a state created and funded agency. With the help of County Counsel Christian Curtis (who thinks his job is to do whatever Angelo tells him to do), she was able to effectively block my ability to do my job as a County Supervisor.
But many employees have been "Carmelized" by Ms. Angelo so my experience is not unique. Over time she's caused dozens of employees to be fired or leave and has destroyed the morale of several departments. I was ready to terminate her years ago but there were never three votes to do so.
Her self-serving comments in the interview with Matt LaFever announcing her retirement exemplify her skill at managing for perception. As Angelo tells it, the Leadership Initiative, Measure B and the Strategic Plan have all been great successes. But after nine years in operation, if the Leadership Initiative has been so great, why do employees leave faster than they can be trained? Why are there no measurable results from Measure B after five years? Why is the public only asked for input at the end of the consultant driven Strategic Plan process, not at the beginning?
“Never waste the opportunity offered by a good crisis” (attributed to Machiavelli) has been fully utilized by Angelo during Covid. She locked the Supervisors out of their offices and locked them and the public out of the Board Chambers. She openly bragged about how great it was to have the Supervisors out of the building! The ability of the public to have meaningful input and the ability of the Board to function effectively has been steadily marginalized.
The number and complexity of issues within the Board's purview has steadily increased, but Angelo has intentionally limited the capacity of the Clerk of the Board function. As a result, numerous issues are not presented to the Board, lack sufficient background information or are slipped through on the Consent Calendar.
Angelo insists on personally making or approving virtually all decisions. As a result, the Executive Office has been a major chokepoint for years. For much of the past two years Angelo has been obsessively focused on micromanaging Covid to the detriment of numerous other County issues which have been dealt with poorly, belatedly, or not at all. Everything from routine business to critical issues have been given short shrift unless they were of personal interest to Angelo.
The County appears to be in reasonably good fiscal condition but that's largely a result of the PG&E settlement money and Covid disaster funds. The impact of Angelo's failure to effectively manage key issues will begin showing up after her departure.
The Board seems poised to move to a CAO (Chief Administrative Officer) model but that's likely to solve one problem (the CEO has too much power) at the cost of another (how will day to day operations be managed and new policy directives implemented?).
The problems we've seen, especially in the last couple of years, have little to do with CAO v. CEO but stem from the autocratic, self-serving and megalomaniacal actions of the departing CEO and the reluctance of the Board to hold her accountable. Angelo repeatedly ignored Board direction, set her own policy and got away with it.
Reverting to a CAO model but with continued understaffing of the Clerk of the Board will add to the Supervisor's workload while doing nothing to hold the administrator accountable. Instead of taking on direct supervision of 15 or so department heads the Board should create the conditions that will allow them to successfully manage and implement policy.
Understaffing the Clerk of the Board function has been a primary means of the CEO controlling the agenda and marginalizing the Board. Instead of five full time staff (the number in place in 2008 when the workload was much less) the current CEO has limited the Clerk of the Board function to half that or less.
Instead of reverting to a CAO model, the Board will be better served by reclaiming the Clerk of the Board function from the CEO and restoring it to department head status. Doing so will provide the structure and resources the Board needs to fulfill their policy setting role.
ATTENTION ANDERSON VALLEY:
Due to circumstances beyond our control, Wednesday's trash route was unable to be completed. We unfortunately do not have the ability to return to your area this week and request you double bag your trash and place 3 feet away from or behind your cart for next weeks pick up. OR you may call the offices for a pass to the Boonville Transfer Station. You must call for the pass prior to going to the transfer station.
We apologize for the inconvenience.
— Solid Wastes of Willits, Inc.
MENDOCINO COUNTY DISCOURAGES LARGE GATHERINGS AMID COVID-19 SURGE
by Matt Pera
Mendocino County's top health official issued an advisory on Wednesday urging people to avoid large gatherings as coronavirus cases skyrocket.
The guidance issued by Dr. Andrew Coren, the county’s health officer, is a recommendation and not a legally enforceable public health order.
It discourages gatherings of more than 12 people when anyone at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19 is present. The advisory says high-risk people include pregnant women, the elderly and people with medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, compromised immune systems and kidney or heart problems.
All indoor gatherings of more than 50 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people should be canceled if attendees cannot maintain at least six feet of distance from each other, the advisory says.
The guidance does not apply to school classes, work, courthouses, places of worship, cafeterias or “any venue that is open to public circulation as part of its regular operations such as shopping malls, stores and museums.”
The advisory recommends screening attendees at any gathering for recent exposure to and symptoms of COVID-19. Attendees should be limited to those who have been vaccinated and tested negative for COVID-19 within the past one to three days.
The advisory comes amid the latest surge in COVID-19 cases in Mendocino County.
The county reported 387 active coronavirus cases on Tuesday, which represents more than four times the number of cases two and a half weeks ago on Christmas Day, according to the advisory.
Health officials attributed the rapid rise in cases to the omicron variant, which is “more transmissible than previous variants and more apt to evade immunity from a past COVID infection or vaccination,” according to the advisory.
“Case numbers are also rising much more rapidly than during previous surges, while hospitals are nearing full capacity,“ the advisory says.
PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY
Date: January 12, 2022
Public Notice: Mendocino County Public Health is advising county residents to avoid large gatherings and limit personal gatherings and parties to 12 people when individuals with higher risk are present.
Mendocino County is experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases due to the introduction of the Omicron variant. Omicron is more transmissible than previous variants and more apt to evade immunity from a past COVID infection or vaccination (immune evasion). Cases in Mendocino County have more than quadrupled since 12/25/21. Case numbers are also rising much more rapidly than during previous surges, while hospitals are nearing full capacity.
For these reasons, Mendocino County Health Officer Dr. Andrew Coren advises that:
I. Gatherings, especially those including individuals at higher risk, should be kept to 12 people or less. Higher risk individuals include pregnant women, the elderly, and those with underlying medical conditions (obesity, diabetes, kidney, heart conditions and compromised immune systems, and others). The best practice is to screen attendees for recent exposure, symptoms, and fever, and restrict to those people who are current in their vaccine and preferably tested negative within the last 1-3 days. Maintain 6 feet of social distance and have gatherings outside for the best ventilation. Minimize eating and drinking with indoor gatherings.
II. Large gatherings (over 50 indoors or over 100 outdoors) where social distancing of 6'
or more cannot be maintained, should be avoided, postponed, or canceled. This does not apply to attendance at regular school classes, work, courthouses, places of worship, cafeterias, or any venue that is open to public circulation as part of its regular operations such as shopping malls, stores, and museums.
III. Wear a mask that is a well-fitted medical grade or N95 type over mouth and nose.
IV. Get vaccinated and boosted. Vaccination is the best protection against severe COVID infection and hospitalization. The unvaccinated in California are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than the fully vaccinated. Vaccines are available for everyone age 5 and older, while boosters are available for everyone age 12 and older.
If you have questions about COVID vaccines or boosters, speak with your doctor or call Public Health at 707-472-2759. To find the nearest vaccine clinic or testing site in your area, please visit the Public Health website at: www.mendocinocounty.org/covidvaccine
FREE COVID-19 TESTING SITES IN FORT BRAGG & MENDOCINO
Mendocino: Mondays (closed 1/17), 9 AM - 11:15 AM. 998 School St. Hosted by OptumServe mobile bus. Walk-ins welcome.
Fort Bragg: Tuesdays, 9 AM - 12:45 PM, 2 PM - 4:45 PM. Veterans Services, 360 N Harrison St. Hosted by OptumServe mobile bus. Walk-ins welcome.
Fort Bragg: Wednesdays, 9 AM - 1 PM. Mendocino Coast Clinics. 205 South St. Hosted by Mendocino Coast Clinics. Drive thru at the white tent on north side of the clinic. Call ahead to make an appointment of if you have symptoms: 707-964-1251.
Fort Bragg: Thursdays, 9 AM - 1 PM. Mendocino Coast Clinics. 205 South St. Hosted by Mendocino Coast Clinics. Drive thru at the white tent on north side of the clinic. Call ahead to make an appointment of if you have symptoms: 707-964-1251.
— Tom Wodetzki <firstname.lastname@example.org>
STOLEN VEHICLE FOUND
On 01/10/2022 at approximately 11:58 AM, a UPD Officer was on patrol near the intersection of Hastings Avenue and Commerce Drive. The Officer observed a black Mitsubishi Outlander parked facing southbound along the east edge of Airport Rd., just south of the intersection with the driver’s door open. The Officer recognized the make, model, and color of the vehicle as matching the description of a recently reported stolen vehicle. A records check was conducted on the vehicle’s license plate and it was confirmed the vehicle was stolen.
The Officer requested additional UPD Officers respond to assist, and exited his vehicle. Due to the high risk and inherent dangers involving contacts with suspects in stolen vehicles, the Officer drew his department-issued firearm and began giving commands to the occupant of the vehicle. A male subject, identified through multiple prior contacts as Donavan Parrish, exited the driver’s compartment of the vehicle. The Officer ordered him to back up with his hands in the air and ultimately placed him under arrest for possession of a stolen vehicle (496d(a) PC).
Once additional UPD Officer’s arrived on scene the vehicle was approached and deemed to have no other occupants inside. A records check was conducted on Parrish, and he was found to be out of custody on bail for a prior burglary (459 PC) charge. Due to Parrish being out on bail he was additionally charged with committing a felony while out on bail (12022.1(a)(1) PC).
Officer’s contacted the registered owner and the vehicle was released to her on scene. Parrish was then transported to the Mendocino County Jail to be booked for the listed offenses.
COAST HOSPITAL CROSSROADS
by Malcolm Macdonald
Recently we delved into the crossroads Mendocino Coast residents are in about the future of healthcare here in this relatively remote portion of Northern California. The coast hospital in Fort Bragg has been called Adventist Health Mendocino Coast (AHMC) since the affiliation agreement between Adventist Health (AH) and the Mendocino Coast Healthcare District (MCHCD) took effect on July 1, 2020. That affiliation occurred after more than 93% of MCHCD voters approved it at the ballot box.
The thirty year lease at the heart of the affiliation agreement provides several opt out scenarios for Adventist Health. AH can opt out of the deal after three, five, ten, fifteen, twenty, and twenty-five years. The three year opt out would occur on July 1, 2023. Section 19.10 of the affiliation agreement pinpoints how such an opt out could occur under the heading Termination for Economic Reasons. “Effective as of any of the third anniversary, fifth anniversary, tenth anniversary, fifteenth anniversary, twentieth anniversary or twenty-fifth anniversary of the Commencement Date, Tenant [Adventist Health] may terminate this Lease if Tenant determines that the EBITDA [Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization] from the Medical Business is less than five percent (5%) of the net revenue for the immediately preceding twelve (12) month period prior to the date of determination, which termination shall be effected by Tenant giving Landlord written Notice of Tenant’s election to terminate pursuant to this Section, not less than two hundred seventy (270) days prior to such anniversary.”
In essence AH needs to give notice on or before October 1, 2022 if they intend to terminate on the three year anniversary commencement date of July 1, 2023. Alternatively, the MCHCD can terminate the affiliation under the following restrictions. “Either party may terminate this Lease at any time in the event an unforeseeable circumstance beyond the party’s control materially affects the party’s ability to perform its obligations under this Lease. The event must have been reasonably unforeseeable at the time the parties entered this Lease and unavoidable from the perspective of the terminating party. In order to terminate under this provision, the terminating party must give at least twelve (12) months’ prior written notice setting forth in sufficient detail, to the non-terminating party’s satisfaction, the facts and circumstances justifying termination under this Section.”
The closest geographic and chronological example of something like the healthcare district terminating an agreement of this sort took place in Sonoma County in 2020. That August, the Palm Drive Health Care District dissolved itself after a twenty year existence littered with bankruptcy and financial woes. Sonoma County's Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) confirmed the dissolution in a unanimous vote. The taxpayers of Sonoma County thus inherited all the district's assets,, debts, liabilities, records and taxing authority. The voters and taxpayers of the healthcare district are still on the hook for a parcel tax that will cost most folks in western Sonoma County between $100 to $155 each per year for more than fifteen years to come.
The difference in the Palm Drive story is that rather than affiliate by leasing the operations of the local hospital as is the case with Adventist Health, at Palm Drive their hospital was sold to a private company, AAMG, to be used as a long term care facility, without an emergency room or outpatient services. If AAMG rings a bell, that company gave a presentation at a spring 2019 MCHCD Planning Committee meeting, but ultimately did not show the interest in the coast hospital that Adventist Health exhibited.
The current parcel tax impacting MCHCD taxpayers ends in 2030. Coincidentally, January 1, 2030 is when all hospitals in California must comply with seismic retrofit laws or face closure. In the previous article we estimated the cost of retrofitting the seven distinct parts of the coast hospital at approximately $25 million.
In December the MCHCD Board of Directors (Amy McColley, Norman deVall, Sara Spring, John Redding, and Jessica Grinberg) heard a proposal from the Devenney Group on the subject of constructing a new ten bed hospital. The current hospital contains two and a half times that number of beds. The Devenney plan estimated a total cost of $32 million. This was based on an estimate of construction costing $910 per sq. ft. Others familiar with the contracting and construction process in Norther California have estimated a final tab for such a ten bed hospital at more like $50-60 million or more.
Another concept involves the potential conversion of the coast healthcare facility from critical access hospital (CAH) to Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) status. Rural Emergency Hospital is a new Medicare provider type established under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. A hospital may make the conversion starting on January 1, 2023. This legislation is aimed at preserving access to emergency and outpatient care in rural areas. The requirements to convert a hospital to REH status are: providing 24/7 emergency services and observation care; being staffed 24/7, having a physician, nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, or physician assistant who will be available to provide emergency services; meet basic state licensing rules; and have a transfer agreement with a Level I or Level II trauma center. For the Mendocino Coast that nearest Level II trauma center is Santa Rosa Memorial.
An REH is not allowed to provide inpatient services. It may provide extended post-acute care services through distinct part unit (DPU) skilled nursing facilities (SNF) and other outpatient services.
Rural Emergency Hospitals will be reimbursed at 105% of the outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS) for all emergency and outpatient care services in addition to a fixed monthly payment. Other services provided will be reimbursed at traditional fee-for-service rates. An REH may also serve as an originating site for tele-health services.
What that might look like on the Mendocino Coast is an urgent care center providing emergency services. If you think of the emergency services as the center of a wheel, you can picture the outpatient services as one of its original spokes, a lab as another spoke. This sort of construction would allow for additional spokes, such as a radiology unit, to be built on. If our Mendocino Coast Health Care District takes this route, the initial costs of construction and financial risk to the taxpayers could be greatly decreased.
As it stands now, Adventist Health has shown no interest in paying for even a planning process, be it for a $32- 60 million hospital or something like a new REH. The plans MCHCD's Board of Directors heard in December did not include possible conversion to a Rural Emergency Hospital. It may be up to its constituents to insist that the healthcare board broaden the spectrum of possible solutions for a new facility.
The earlier article served as a reminder that money and people to staff medical provider positions is already a strain on healthcare facilities. Find a link to almost any hospital's job openings and you will find a large number of positions available. This is painfully true at Adventist Health Mendocino Coast, but it is an across the board reality throughout the United States. There exists an acute need for skilled nurses, doctors, and the rest of the important workers needed to run a hospital.
That same piece emphasized the near term future likelihood of consolidation among healthcare facilities, consolidation down to urban centers being the only homes for the traditional full scale hospitals. Your massage therapists and yoga teachers are not going away from the Mendocino Coast. However, many people on the coast have already been practicing the consolidation method with trips to Santa Rosa or San Francisco for specialist care.
Coast residents may need a second dose of these questions: How much of something resembling a hospital are you willing to pay to build? How much are you willing to pay each year to subsidize any potential financial losses from operations of that investment?
ACCORDING to the National Weather Service, the lush precipitation totals we've so far enjoyed here in NorCal could quickly drop below normal if we have a long run of dry days in January or February. What will the upcoming months hold? It's impossible to know for certain. Weather forecasts beyond 10 days are only accurate half the time, the National Weather Service says. But long-range forecast models from NOAA suggest that Southern California is more likely to be dry than wet, while Central and Northern California have an equal chance of being wet, dry or normal. Jan Null, who runs the private forecasting service Golden Gate Weather Services, said a January dry spell in Northern and Central California is highly likely, based on decades of data.
"Based on San Francisco's daily rainfall, over the past 71 rainfall seasons (i.e., July 1 to June 30) since 1950, there has been a 'dry' period in December or January averaging 19 days," Null wrote in an email.
Null defines a "dry period" as consecutive dry days with no rain, or consecutive days that were broken by no more than two nonconsecutive intervening days of very light rain with less than 0.08 inch recorded.
"All of these dry periods began in December or January, with the exception of the 1964-65 period, which was 19 days but did not begin until Feb. 6," he said.
He thinks California could currently be in the midst of a prolonged dry spell.
COUGH UP, ANDERSON VALLEY. Our schools are old and badly in need of fundamental repairs. Superintendent Simson:
"I am excited to share with you that tonight the AVUSD Board voted to place a $13 million dollar bond measure on the ballot. This is the beginning of a visioning in facilities that will transform us from all that we currently ARE into all that we can BECOME. The measure will be on the June ballot. If anyone wants to walk through and see our needs and vision, call my cell at 707-684-1017 and set up a time. We also take this moment to express gratitude to Linnea Totten for accepting the appointment to the Board to fulfill an open term."
HOW TO SOMEHOW restrain chatline hogs is again raging at MCN, aka Mendocino Community Network, where a handful of unhinged shut-ins chip in all day every day. This MCN comment nicely sums up the chatline dilemma: “The issue has been addressed in venues far larger than these list-serves. Like it or not, places on the internet like Facebook, Twitter, etc. have decided that hate speech, personal threats, threats of violence and terrorism — kill videos, chopping off people’s heads etc. are simply unacceptable. It's not about ‘free speech’ because words and pictures do matter and psychos can and do ruin it for everyone.”
I TRY to keep the ava's comment function free of too many comments by the frequents without shutting them down altogether, and keep it as free as possible from the anti-vaxx nuts who endlessly probe its perimeters with misinformation of the type that can kill people naive enough to believe it. (The chronic offenders are mostly men, of course.)
I'M RECONCILED to the outpatients. There are sooooooo many of them home alone all day — atomized, in the fancy intellectual term for social isolation — with only the consolation of hoping, somehow, somewhere, someone is listening, their eternal quest a kind of Hubble space telescope mission, endlessly on futile searches of the cyber-universe.
AOC drives the rightwing crazier than they are naturally. Get this gratuitously irrelevant inclusion of their primary hate object in a headline from The Daily Mail: “Queer' Rhodes Scholar (and AOC fan) who claimed she grew up poor and in foster care loses her scholarship after officials learned she grew up in middle-class family with a radiologist mother and attended $30,000-a-year private school!”
A LONG TIME AGO I wrote to the Boonville government (our Community Services District) requesting that the abandoned Ricard building fouling South Boonville for the past fifty years be abated, torn down or burnt down as a training exercise. Not only was it a major eyesore in a little town where everyone else at least tries to keep up appearances, it was an obvious fire and health and safety hazard. The response I got was that Ricard's horizontal kindling pile was “not deteriorated enough” to qualify for official abatement. And here we are years later with Ricard's slum an even a greater fire hazard, especially to the crowded, adjacent Haehl Street hive and, obviously, still a major eyesore. Ricard wouldn't get away with this any other place in this low standards county, and certainly not in his home area of Mendocino Village where he owns rental properties (the Village's consensus worst landlord) or out on Little River Point where he lives in gated splendor. It's past time to move on this guy.
KATHY WYLIE: The link to the County Superintendent of Schools Candidate Forum at the Coast Democratic Club is here: https://youtu.be/o9CC_vxwduc
With the new year upon us, how are we going to come together to create healthier, safer communities, a robust economy, and a County government that is responsive to the needs of all the people who call Mendocino County home?
The County is in the final stages of completing a Strategic Plan. Instead of reacting to crises, this process addresses these the questions in a proactive way. As you can imagine, there are many opinions. We are taking input and discerning the key issues. The final community input session was Thursday, Jan. 6 at 6:00 pm.
I voted no on the combining of the Auditor/Controller’s office and the Treasurer/Tax Collector’s office. Unfortunately I was the lone vote. The people who run those offices were vehemently opposed to such a combination. There were valid reasons not to combine the positions as expressed by the Auditor and Treasurer. However, the combination plan passed, and I hope it succeeds for the County’s sake. The result will be one elected position running those four positions.
PG&E has received a lot of criticism over their actions over the last few years. A lot of this was warranted. Yet when the power went out throughout the County over the Holidays, I worked with the Sheriff and Office of Emergency Services to put pressure on PG&E to power up the substation in Covelo since almost 1,400 were without power with snow on the ground. PG&E came through and brought in generators to power the substation while they tried to fix the transmission lines that were down. This got power back to residents three days before the expected return of power. I am grateful for the work they did in resolving a potentially serious situation.
Our volunteer fire departments do incredible jobs each and every day. We have a huge debt of gratitude to all who respond to life threatening situations in the middle of snowy nights or blazing hot days. Chief Sue Carberry just retired from the Long Valley Fire Department. Chief Chris Wilkes retired a couple of months ago from the Little Lake Fire Department. I would like to thank both of them for exemplary work and dedication to our communities and for being such fine people.
There will be a Town Hall meeting on Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m. Much appreciate to WELL for sponsoring these town hall events. These are forums to share your concerns, questions, and thoughts on important issues of our community. I hope that we can have these important events in person in the near future.
Best of New Years to you.
You can always contact me at email@example.com or 707-972-4214.
SEA BIRD LODGE
To Whom It May Concern,
I rented a room at Sea Bird Lodge for $119 a night. My children and I got to the room and there was many problems. There was a dirty bandaid on an outlet, a broken outlet and pizza peppers on the back of toilet. I told them about my concerns and they offered a new room or refund. I asked for a refund and was told that I had to wait for the manager next day. I do not live in Fort Bragg and have to go home next day early for work. I asked if manager could give the refund remotely and was told yes. Why can't I get it now then if that was an option? This is unprofessional and bad costumer service. I will never be back to this place and recommend no one go there. Their standards are subpar and disgusting if you have young ones.
NEW COUNCIL SAME AS OLD COUNCIL
New Point Arena City Councilmembers Appointed
At their January 11 Special meeting, the Point Arena City Council appointed two new members to the City Council to fill vacancies resulting from resignation - Jim Koogle and Richey Wasserman. Both are long-time residents of Point Arena and have served on the City Council and numerous boards and commissions before.
In early September 2021, two members of the City Council resigned. At the September 28 City Council meeting, it was decided to call a Special Election for February 22, 2022. The nomination period for candidates for the two seats was November 1 to November 29. At the end of the filing period, only one candidate turned in nomination papers that were validated by the Registrar of Voters - Jim Koogle.
Because no more than one candidate ran for the two open seats and the City of Point Arena had no other items on the ballot, the County Elections Official determined that there would not need a Special Election to be held on February 22, 2022. Under this circumstance, State law allows an appointment "in lieu of election" as there were fewer candidates than open seats. The appointee will serve the remainder of the term which expires November 5, 2024.
At the December 14, 2021 meeting, the Council decided to open an application period for an appointment to the remaining vacant seat, with applications due by January 6, 2022. The only person to apply was Richey Wasserman. This Council seat would be up for election on November 8, 2022.
With the addition of Koogle and Wasserman, the Point Arena City Council roster is:
Mayor Scott Ignacio (firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice Mayor Barbara Burkey (email@example.com
Councilmember Anna Dobbins (firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilmember Jim Koogle (email@example.com
Councilmember Richey Wasserman (firstname.lastname@example.org
CATCH OF THE DAY, January 12, 2022
DUSTIN JORDAN, Willits. Switchblade, controlled substance, county parole violation.
WILLIAM RYKEN JR., Fort Bragg. Domestic battery, controlled substance, paraphernalia, concealed dirk-dagger, failure to appear, probation revocation.
JUAN TOVAR-SEVILLA, Ukiah. Concealed dirk-dagger, probation revocation.
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
Assemblyman Wood finally figures out that single payer is an improvement over insurance companies. From his recent press release:
“Since being elected in 2014, I have authored numerous laws including preventing surprise billing, controlling pharmaceutical costs, increasing regulation of pharmacy benefit managers, expanding subsidies for Covered California plans, allowing nurse practitioners the ability to provide care independent of a physician, improving Medi-Cal services, expanding access to mental health services, providing better oversight of health care mergers, and creating an all-payer claims data base of health care costs.
“Despite these successes, the health care industrial complex has responded by fighting or delaying implementation with one lawsuit or regulatory challenge after another. It is clear that they prefer the status quo and that profits, not patients, are their priority. Well, that doesn’t work for me.”
“Reforming the individual segments of the health care industry has proved inadequate. Do I have concerns? Yes. Do I think it will solve all our problems? No. That’s why I will continue to work hard to pass my bill, AB 1130, which will create the Office of Health Care Affordability designed to address costs throughout health care by establishing enforceable cost targets. Any major reform, including single-payer system will need to understand how we spend our health care dollars. We will be able to use that information to improve health outcomes for patients.”
“Trying to fix individual segments no longer seems to be an effective approach. Something’s got to give, so next Tuesday, I’ll be voting for change.”
Ed Note: Wood, who had opposed single payer, says now that he will support a single payer bill, AB 1400, which will be heard in the Assembly Health Committee on January 11.
ACT BLUE, a reader writes:
I see the Coast Democratic Club is using Act Blue for people to join or donate.
If you choose to donate through Act Blue you can expect to be continually assaulted by candidates from all over the country as it appears they sell or share your data!
Although I have been a lifelong Democrat, with a political science degree and having worked for many governments, I resigned from the Democratic Party in disgust after the 2016 election.
Desiring to support progressive presidential candidates in 2020, I made a number of donations through Act Blue and will never donate through that application again!!
I find it unethical that Act Blue, who takes a piece of the money for themselves off the donation, to pimp me out to federal, state and local candidates across the country!
Sabina Thiessen notes the need for “more studies” to inform the future of the Potter Valley Project. She then states her predetermined conclusion that maintaining the project in its current form is necessary for water supply while attempting to minimize the dams’ substantial impact on the environment.
A multitude of completed studies point to the importance of the headwaters of the Eel River for fish and wildlife and the likelihood that a dam-free diversion is a more reliable, less expensive option for water supply. This is important in the face of PG&E’s decision to retire the project in April.
Many studies are available at pottervalleyproject.org. A newly released study by NOAA notes that the basin above the dams “has substantial salmonid capacity relative to the rest of the watershed” and “could provide an important cool-water refuge during warm years.”
We do face an uncertain water future in California. We should be investing in smart, modern infrastructure that reduces impacts to the environment and provides secure water supplies for humans. Studies have shown a dam-free diversion to replace the outdated Potter Valley Project would do just that.
OLD FOLKS AGENCY NEEDS BOARD MEMBERS
The Governing Board of Lake and Mendocino County’s Area Agency on Aging (AAA) is currently recruiting for one (1) member living in Lake County and two (2) members living in Mendocino County to serve on the AAA Advisory Council, and is also accepting applications for a member “at large” from both Lake and Mendocino Counties.
The Council advises the Governing Board on issues such as planning and developing community services for older adults and persons with disabilities throughout both counties. Term limits are two (2) years and meetings are being held via the Zoom platform at this time.
Anyone interested in serving on the Advisory Council should contact the Area Agency on Aging, 707-995-3744 or email@example.com, to request an application for membership.
Applications must be submitted by March 14th, 2022.
MEMORIES OF DIDION
by Inigo Thomas
I first met Joan Didion in the summer of 1993, soon after I moved to New York, at the launch party for Christopher Hitchens’s book For the Sake of Argument. I was mesmerised by the hand with which she held her glass – her long, thin fingers. Those hands are on show in the recent Netflix documentary about Didion made by her nephew, Griffin Dunne: she waves her arms and hands in front of the camera as if casting a spell.
I’d recently been to Miami and had read her book about the city. As she saw it, Miami was “long on rumor, short on memory, overbuilt on the chimera of runaway money and referring not to New York or Boston or Los Angeles or Atlanta but to Caracas and Mexico, to Havana and to Bogotá and to Paris and Madrid.” Much of Miami is about the Cuban exile scene, where a love of guns, violence and conspiracy prefigures the paramilitary supporters of Donald Trump. “As in other parts of the world where citizens shop for guerrilla discounts and bargains in automatic weapons, there was in Miami an advanced interest in personal security.” A single word, “advanced,” turns a flat sentence into something else.
Some time in 1995 or 1996, Hitchens and Didion were at a supper in New York – this was before Monica Lewinsky had become news. Christopher began to list the charges he was accruing against the president: the dubious suicide of a friend and White House aide; the affair with Gennifer Flowers; the dodgy property deals in Arkansas; and then there was Travelgate – the Clintons had fired the White House travel agents appointed by the Bushes. “Christopher,” Didion said, “I don’t do Travelgate.” No one I know ever silenced Hitchens so effortlessly.
In 1996 I joined George, a glossy magazine founded and run by John Kennedy Jr, which struggled to live up to the gloss of its editor. Didion’s daughter Quintana worked down the corridor as the photo editor of Elle Decor, ever zestful and dismissive of those who made too much of themselves. She wasn’t impressed by fame, and had made a life for herself independent of her parents – as you might if you came from a world heavy with personality.
In 1998, Drue Heinz invited me to a party at her house on the East Side. I arrived early. Paul Johnson was already there, so was Norman Podhoretz. (Hitchens had once tried to describe him in a piece for the LRB as “a room emptier,” but Karl Miller objected to the phrase. Christopher asked whether “salon voider” would do.) After this right-wing beginning, a procession of New York’s more liberal-minded writers and politicians arrived, and I found myself at a table with Joan Didion and her husband, John Gregory Dunne. Then Kofi Annan walked in. Didion was very wowed by him. To be taken in by the moment of someone’s arrival, the visceral appeal of it all and to make no point of disguising the attraction, wasn’t something I would have associated with Joan Didion – the hand that I had first seen holding a wineglass was now wrapped round my arm. But seeing meant a lot.
At Didion and Dunne’s apartment on the Upper East Side hurricane lamps lined shelves in the main room, while chintz cloth covered the tables in the kitchen where there was often food. In the hall, on a small wooden table, were three pairs of identical spectacles, as if to emphasise the importance of seeing as best you can.
John Kennedy Jr. died in July 1999, and a month or two later Didion and Dunne took me to supper. Dunne said it was essential that I left the magazine as soon as I could, while Didion wanted to know why Kennedy had tried to fly from New Jersey to Martha’s Vineyard that night in July, killing himself, his wife Carolyn and her sister Lauren. I’d seen John leave the office that day: I had no explanation for why he dismissed the instructor who had said he’d be happy to fly with John eastward over Long Island Sound. Didion wasn’t the first or last person to ask what I thought: one person was so angry with John for killing his wife and sister-in-law that she seemed to think anyone who worked with him was somehow implicated in the crash, and I was guilty by association. “Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it,” is one of Didion’s many epigrams.
“You will have perceived by now that I was not one to profit by the experience of others, that it was a very long time indeed before I stopped believing in new faces and began to understand … that it is distinctly possible to stay too long at the fair,” Didion wrote in “Goodbye to All That,” her piece from 1967 about leaving New York and returning to California. “All I mean is that I was very young in New York, and that at some point the golden rhythm was broken, and I am not that young any more.”
(London Review of Books)
PREPPING FOR TRUMP COUP:
Special Forces candidates will participate in the two-week Robin Sage training exercises in which they will practice overthrowing illegitimate governments.
Soldiers are placed in a “politically unstable” fictional country and use “unconventional guerrilla warfare” to defeat a “numerically superior enemy.” Soldiers will face off against seasoned military members and specially trained civilians during the exercise, which serves as the Special Forces final exam. Several citizens, however, are concerned the exercise encourages soldiers to target civilians. News of the training exercise comes at a tense time in the US, just five days after the country celebrated the first anniversary of the Capitol riot. It also follows the DOJ's creation of a new “domestic terrorism” unit as the nation faces what officials said is an “elevated threat from domestic violent extremists.”
GORSE MAY NOT BE THE MENACE IT'S ASSUMED TO BE
“The whole point about gorse is it is actively being removed from marginal lands – it’s something we can gain protein from at no extra cost,” she said. “We have a huge amount of gorse all over Scotland and when we did the calculations, just by active removal from marginal land, there’s enough gorse protein to easily feed [Scotland’s] population.” Russell was speaking at a Science Media Centre event on alternative proteins that looked at the health and environmental benefits and drawbacks of alternatives to meat and dairy. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) launched a polling report at the event that showed 60% of people in the UK were willing to try plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy.... Livestock and fodder production occupies 83% of the world’s farmland but produces only 18% of protein. It also has a very heavy environmental impact, driving the climate crisis and pollution. Studies have shown sharp cuts in meat eating in rich nations are needed to halt global heating.
From 1950 to 2000 the global population doubled, but meat intake increased fivefold, said Russell. Continuing this trend in the future is not feasible for the environment, she said: “We really do have to change our diet.”
FISH & WILDLIFE PRESSER
On Jan. 10, 2022, wildlife officers with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) served a search warrant in the 2900 block of Thomas Road in Miranda. The warrant was part of an investigation into suspected Fish & Game Code (FGC) violations associated with the unlawful cultivation of cannabis.
Support was provided by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Humboldt County Code Enforcement, Regional Waterboard and a CDFW Environmental Scientist.
Prior to serving the search warrant, a records check was conducted on the property to determine what steps may have been taken to secure a state license. In this case, no county permit or state license to cultivate commercial cannabis had been issued.
Multiple FGC violations were documented, which can often result in pollution that compromises the habitat and resources that California’s fish and wildlife species need to survive.
Over 7,000 illegal cannabis plants were eradicated and over 4,000 lbs. of illegal processed cannabis was destroyed.
A formal complaint will be filed with the Humboldt County District Attorney’s office.
ED NOTE: We are reliably informed that the Green Rushers are rushing outtahere, abandoning their many hundreds of outback hoop houses with untrimmed dope still hanging, leaving behind messes as shown above. The price of pot has plunged to give away lows, making tons of it grown this summer valueless, not worth the expense of trimming.
SOMETHING’S NOT RIGHT IN SOUTHERN OREGON: Alarm At Rise Of Illegal Pot Farms
Armed men in pickup trucks rule over vast illicit industry that has transformed rural counties, depleting water and scaring locals
Since the wind knocked down power lines
and lightning set a birch aflame
from within, three turkey vultures roost
along the topmost branches,
matted black feathers with small red heads,
unfortunate harbingers of death,
though, really, almost comically alive —
hunched as though deciding
some minor point before slipping off
on the umbrellas of their wings to rid
the roads of evidence of violence not theirs.
— Maya C. Popa
A FEDERAL AGENT inspects a 'lumber' truck after smelling alcohol during the prohibition period (Los Angeles, 1926).
MARCO MCCLEAN ON KZYX BOARD ELECTIONS
Regarding running for the board, basically, I don't like the idea of paying them money I don't have, for the privilege of running for an office where I'll have no say in anything even if I win. When John Sakowicz was on the board of MCPB (KZYX) and was the treasurer, he became justifiably frustrated by never being allowed to speak and by being excluded from the real inner circles, and by having his political interview radio show physically sabotaged and then being kicked off the air permanently for expressing miffment about that, then was required to abase himself before the fraud CEO and the dictatorial program director who orchestrated the whole operation against him and who were technically serving at the board's whim. And John, as well as being on the corporate board at the time, was treasurer of the corporation, see above, with oodles of qualifications for the position, and the CEO and John's fellow boardmembers refused him access to the station's financial books. I repeat: The treasurer of the corporation was not allowed to look at the books, because of corporate fear that he might publish information in them. That's just to list one instance of the corruption within that smiley-face, perpetually-genially-stoned-sounding place.
About the requirement to be a member to run for a plastic chair on the board: We've all already paid and are paying for KZYX, whether we want to or not, when we pay taxes. There's the government's priceless gift to MCPB to squat on the natural resource of three frequencies in the FM band and blanket the county, speaking of bandwidth, and the government's gift to them of a six-figure grant every year, that pours, like the membership money, mainly into the personal bank accounts of a handful of people in the office, who pay the real workers, the local airpeople, /nothing at all/ for their work, not even a stipend of minimum wage for their hour or two each per week. The eligible voters for boardmembers are a pool of people who like the way things are set in stone at KZYX enough to also pay $50 each basically to keep an electric fence around the stone. And the entire campaign time for boardmembers is limited to a few minutes of scripted blather in a one-hour-per-year show where called-in and written-in questions are screened by the manager and existing board rep, and the microphones are turned up and down, and on and off, under control of one of their trained seals or the trainer.
If any administration of KZYX had ever, at any time, uncircled the wagons and allowed any local with any kind of an edge to do a real ungagged show there, and I'm not talking about the sportstalk show, this all could be truly democratically cleaned up. As it was and is, and as that's never going to happen, no way.
MORE KZYX HISTORY
To the Editor:
I appreciate Marco McClean’s history lesson. The truth is things were worse at KZYX than people thought.
For starters, John Coate fired Christna Aanestad, the station’s only news reporter, for no good reason, then Coate gave himself a hefty pay raise.
The pay raise came in the middle of the 2007-2008 global financial crisis when the station was almost bankrupt.
Ms. Aanestad is a highly respected newswoman, and as I said, she was also the station’s only newsperson at time of John Coate’s hatchet job, so effectively the station had no news department for a long while.
No news department at a public radio station?
Yeah. It was insane.
John Coate personally filed the station’s IRS Form 990s. He wanted no oversight by me, the Board Treasurer.
Officially known as the “Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax” in the United States tax nomenclature, the objective of this form is to provide all the financial information about a non-profit organization to the government agencies.
When I complained to the IRS years later, an audit found that John Coate's 990s were incomplete or inaccurate, or both.
It bordered on fraud.
The station could have been shut down at that point in time. Thankfully it wasn’t because a public radio license is a precious thing.
Mary Aigner, station’s so-called “program director”. Her true title was closer to something like Kommandoführerin Mary Aigner.
Mary Aigne ran the station like a head overseer of a prison camp.
John Coate, a lazy dude, was more than happy to cede the station’s day-to-day operations to Mary Aigner, and she controlled every aspect of station life — and did so, for something like 25 years.
The station’s famous “blacklist” was created by Mary Aigner.
Who were blacklisted?
Bruce Andersen and Mark Scaramella. Nobody knows Mendocino County better or loves Mendocino County more than the two guys at the Anderson Valley Advertiser.
K.C. Meadows. The highly respected, longtime editor of the Ukiah Daily Journal ran afoul of the foul-tempered Mary Aigner, and Ms. Meadows was off the air.
Beth Bosk. The respected founder and publisher of the New Settler Interviews. She was a leader during Redwood Summer and continues to be a guardian of our old-growth redwood forests and other endangered resources.
Norman de Vall. Former member of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and an astute observer of county politics.
Doug McKenty. Wildy popular with listeners, at one time Doug McKenty had three shows on the station’s schedule. Doug McKenty was also a former board member at KZYX and among the first to question the station’s insider politics and shaky finances.
Marco McClean. Master content creator, reporter, entertainer, Marco McClean is the founder, host and producer of “Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio” which is broadcast all night, every Friday night, on KNYO in Fort Bragg CA. Mr. McClean’s show is pure genius, and he has been doing his show since forever.
This is only a partial list, of course.
A final word.
One may ask: Where was the KZYX Board all this time during the Coate-Aigner Reign of Terror?
Good question. And the answer is that for all practical purposes, except fundraising, the station’s Board is non-existent. It has no real governance powers over the operations of the station.
Why? Because Sean Donovan, the station’s founder — and con artist — wrote into the station’s by-laws, way back in 1984, that the station’s general manager would also be its executive director.
NOT ONLY THAT/KZYX HISTORY
When I learned about the firing of Christina Aanestad, with whom I was not acquainted previously, I was incensed. I had been listening to her every morning and I was a FAN. Then, when I went to events that were of critical importance to me/our community, like the Navy's Live Weapons Planning for our Coastal waters (for which/to oppose which I made my 1st ever trip to DC), there she was, on our behalf. Oakand, San Francisco… I gave testimony and only one person from my world there to witness was she. When Amy Goodman came to Ukiah (and I was there to try to force feed her organic fresh food...she is abysmal and drinks Pepsi non-stop) the only by now familiar face was Christina's. I contacted my now dearly departed mutual friend to introduce us and asked her point blank (because the station insisted it was a budgeting issue) what her salary and benefits added up to by the end of that year/contract and she told me. I then went around Mendocino and enlisted others who had perhaps not been advertisers for whatever their reasons and asked them for their support. I showed up at the next Board of Directors meeting with my (Mendocino Café) checkbook and the wherewithal to cover the amount and was rejected and basically told to shut up and sit down, audience feedback was over. When I objected I was told that if I had money for the station they had stacks of unpaid bills that were their priority and I could not direct my contribution to a particular programmer. I had the $ and the support/commitment from like-minded others in town. That's why, until recently, I neither supported nor bought ads on the station. Now I am smoothing things over but that was horribly egregiously behavior on the part of John Coate, et al, turning down a $30,000 check. And that's Herstory!
Jim Young (MCN Chat Line): “Was that a compliment or a dig at the Sports Phone?”
Marco McClean here. Jim, you're doing radio work that brings in money that the handful of people in the office are paying themselves very well with. You should be paid. A manager's first job is to pay the workers before she pays herself. Whenever the top brass of an organization is making out like bandits while paying the workers very little, and this comes out in the news, there's a huge outcry. Why is there no outcry here when workers are paid nothing at all? Especially when Mendocino County Public Broadcasting Corporation is swimming in money and always has been. KZYX goes through fifty times the money KNYO does. Same basic operation with all the elements. And so-called nonprofit MCPB is right now buying a third of an acre of commercial downtown Ukiah and office buildings with just the extra money from one year, which they had extra every year before. They should have been paying the local airpeople all along, rather than pissing (and squirreling) all that money away and making the airpeople give up their airtime to beg for even more money for the people in the office.
Just something to think about: NPR's Ira Glass and the producers of his one-hour-per-week radio show get hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. That's how much he's worth to NPR. You're worth rather less than that to KZYX but you're worth something beyond a pat on the head and a "good job, son, carry on". People who work for nothing when the managers are being paid are hurting workers everywhere. If you need the money, you need the money. If you're independently wealthy and don't even need money, you either tear up the check or donate it to a cause. If you work in a restaurant, you always take your legal break, no matter how busy it is. You never work overtime without being paid overtime. If you're a teacher in a school, no matter how much you like teaching and no matter how fun it is, you don't work for nothing while the superintendent of schools gets $225,000 a year. This is like that.
I put about as much time and energy into getting ready all week for my 8-hour radio show as a normal person puts into a full-time job, and in between I've always had several part-time jobs to live. I've been doing this sort of thing all my adult life. It was great when I had KMFB for like 15 years, because I got paid to do radio there, and engineer, and build things for the station. I don't mind working for KNYO for nothing because the manager's taking nothing (to do essentially the same job KZYX manager is doing for $5,000 a month and medical and dental).
I've heard your sports show, your subject is totally safe for the bosses at the station, and it naturally draws callers, and that's good for the bosses' money flow. You're safe. Yez all sound like you're having a nice time, but there's no edge they have to worry about. They can't kick you off the air when you man up and expect out loud to be paid. And that will get a foot in the door for them to have to start paying the others. That's what I meant.
No matter how much or little prep you need to do, and no matter how frivolous or profound your subject is, you show up for work on time, every time, and do your show, don't you? Get yourself paid. It's an important point.
Twenty dollars a weekly show is a month's rent per year. Or a full set of tires, two oil changes, replacement windshield wipers and car registration, all of that. Or comprehensive insurance on your vehicle. It's not much, but it's a lot. And that's the minimum I'll require when my show is on KZYX, which could happen with the flip of a switch any Friday and should if the world were fair and the management of KZYX weren't corrupt as all hell.
THE EDITOR GOT 10 POINTS. THE MAJOR GOT 15. YOU?
MENDO’S GOLDEN GOOSE ON LIFE SUPPORT
Potential Extinction Of Tax-Paying Legal Mendocino Cultivators Must Be Addressed By Mendocino County
Recently, Mendocino County cannabis cultivation permit applicants were given a short window to resubmit their application and all supporting materials. The “portal” had been delayed from its intended opening multiple times, but finally opened on August 2nd and closed on November 2nd. It was intended to streamline the process and finally straighten out the County’s records for each applicant after many years of program management under different leadership losing files and long delays in processing applications.
Unfortunately, the monumental efforts of the new Mendocino Cannabis Program (MCP) have once again failed to streamline the process and it has once again stalled out. Chronic understaffing and poorly thought through actions have not resulted in positive outcomes. While MCP works tirelessly to rectify problems (some self-inflicted and some due to outside forces), there has been NO clear or consistent communication or guidance to the applicants. Instead, they have been sent notices that their applications are incomplete and that there is no current way to correct the deficiencies or errors---some of which are simply incorrect determinations by staff reviewers---and are told that they may be denied as a result. This is despite the fact that reviews are not conducted pursuant to consistent or clear guidelines, there were insufficient instructions given, the limitations of the portal technology, and other challenges.
While there is no question that MCP needs and deserves full staffing, legitimate questions remain:
● Why hasn’t MCP staffed up since being directed and funded by the Board of Supervisors?
● Why did MCP not establish and publish clear standards, guidelines and educational materials that would give applicants and staff clear and consistent basis for the portal submission requirements?
● Why have the applicants not been told when they will be able to correct any noticed deficiencies and, more than that, what is the process of clearing up mistakes by staff or any unclear comments by staff regarding items they deemed deficient?
● Why do different reviewers review the same files and come to different determinations?
● What will the appeal process be if applicants are wrongly denied?
We have asked these questions in various ways over the past several months, and have not received any clear answers.
Will the County answer these questions and address these issues now, in public, or will the answers and solutions only come from and be forced through existing and future litigation?
This is not the same old gripe about the inefficiencies of County government, which is quite common here in Mendocino. The sad fact is that concurrent factors combine with these local problems to create what amounts to an existential crisis for most of these small local tax-paying cannabis businesses. The recent cannabis market crash, exorbitant local and state cultivation taxes, the looming deadline for state Provisional licenses, the shifted CEQA burden, drought, fire and Covid all are contributing to make this an EXTINCTION-LEVEL EVENT.
On top of this, the County has failed to properly supervise the outside contractor that is responsible for rolling out the Equity Grant funds to the qualified grantees and has not insisted that other County departments that are necessarily involved in that process were coordinated with from the beginning. As a result, time-limited approved funding from the state is in very real jeopardy of having to be returned, and intended recipients that might have been saved from shuttering may not receive this desperately needed relief in time to save their businesses. The County was also granted $17.5 million dollars in a local jurisdiction grant, which will likely also suffer from the same bureaucratic entropy as the Local Equity Program and as a result, may not get to the intended beneficiaries in the form of real services or grants in time to be meaningful in addressing the huge challenges they face TODAY.
These businesses are going to be lost PERMANENTLY if something is not done.
Where is the ACCOUNTABILITY of the County?
It is time to stop blaming the Applicants and instead work in partnership with them and other stakeholders to save this necessary component of our community and local economy. Every applicant has VOLUNTEERED to be regulated and stepped forward into the abyss. No one thought it would be as torturous of a process (neither the County nor the applicants) as it has been and continues to be. Every one of these tax-paying businesses is tracked and traced at the state level. Accountability of state license holders is no longer the issue, it is now the County.
Hannah L. Nelson e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mendocino Cannabis Alliance e: email@example.com
ADDENDUM: Hannah L. Nelson and Mendocino Cannabis Alliance Statement of Issues Related to The Crisis Facing Mendocino County Cannabis Businesses
As you may have seen recently in regional and national media, the community of small licensed cannabis farmers and businesses in Mendocino County are in a crisis of epic proportions. Small farmers in California face a combination of excessive taxation at the local, state and federal levels as well as a deadline to have their state licenses converted from Provisional to Annual. Those factors combined with massive overproduction and severely limited market access have created a perfect storm of existential threats. The additional circumstances that small farms in Mendocino County face compound those destabilizing forces in a way that will ensure the shuttering of even more small family farms and businesses in Mendocino County.
Our local farmers were already facing extreme conditions from years of poor administration of the local permitting process and the state Provisional licensing crisis. The lack of communication or effort by the Mendocino Cannabis Program or the Board to publicly address these and more recent “portal” re-application process difficulties, the failure to adequately supervise the administration of the Equity Grant Program, and the failure to provide a process that is fair, reasonable, and consistently administered without simply blaming inadequacies on applicants has led to an environment of fear and confusion for applicants and permit-holders alike.
Mendocino County advocacy groups like the Mendocino Cannabis Alliance and the Covelo Cannabis Advocacy Group, and attorney and advocate Hannah Nelson, have worked hard to provide solutions and on the ground input to the Board of Supervisors and the Mendocino Cannabis Program (MCP). Recently, the County formed a new Cannabis Ad Hoc Committee to address both the Portal Application Resubmission Process and Local Equity Grant Program. Despite this engagement and repeated calls from many program participants, clear standards and guidelines for permit processing and approval have yet to be provided. Inconsistencies in review of the same materials - and mistakes by staff and applicants - due to the lack of standards and proper instructions have plagued the process. Actionable, clear communications from the MCP are virtually non-existent.
In order to assist the necessary dialogue that must occur if the County is to rectify the situation and maintain some level of accountability of the program, we offer a summation of history of the most pressing issues:
1. Portal Process From August 2, 2021 to November 2, 2021, local cannabis permit applicants were required to re-submit their entire County Cannabis Permit application and all supporting materials to create a clean slate of compliance paperwork after years of lost files and program changes by the County. Applicants were told that to begin with, the portal submission review was for completeness of the application, not substantive review of their ultimate approval or denial. However, what appear to be matters relating to substantive review have been included in the initial portal review for completeness, and applicants were later told that if the application packet was not "complete", which now meant substantively approvable within the narrow portal timeframe, they would be rejected. Applicants were also led to believe that they would have an opportunity to cure portal issues after the Portal closed, but were instead sent letters that did not state that and gave the impression that they would be denied5. Some of those notices were incorrect and had to be changed by the County, but the County never changed the date on the notice— rendering it legally deficient for its intended purpose. Some applicants received 2 to 3 sets of Notices for the same application without any explanation of the differences between the notices or any changes to the checklist of deficiencies that were sent with the Notices. The County sent applicants what amounted to a fear and anxiety producing letter just before the holidays, stating that they might be denied a permit due to an ‘incomplete’ submission, and emphasizing that since the Portal was already closed, there was no way to change their status to "complete". These multiple and sometimes incorrect Notices were sent to tax paying businesses most of which have been operating for 4 & 1/2 years and in many instances had submitted files to the county 2-4 times in the past, in order to replenish files which were in many cases lost by the various iterations of the County Cannabis Program.
Applicants have been receiving these deficiency notices regarding their application, but have not been provided with the corresponding information promised by MCP that would include guidelines and timelines for successful completion. Furthermore, incorrect assumptions and errors by MCP staff have often formed the basis of an alleged deficiency. Multiple, successive reviewers on any one submission have come to completely different conclusions about whether a category was complete or deficient. Some of the deficiencies result from mistakes made on form templates issued immediately before the portal opening without advanced warning.
There have been no clear communications regarding any of the following from MCP:
A) standards by which portal submissions for completeness are judged;
B) standards by which approvals and denials will be determined (either up front after portal submission in lieu of an incomplete notice, or later when substantive review is conducted);
C) when educational materials with those standards and any clarifying information will be released;
D) what steps will be taken to perform educational efforts to support successful completion by applicants;
E) when the Portal will be reopened and how much time people will have to resubmit through it to correct “deficiencies” listed in the Incomplete determinations;
F) how errors by applicants or staff can be addressed so that denials based on errors by staff or by applicants are avoided, and/or can be cleared up outside of any arbitrary tight timeframe of resubmission or appeal;
G) what kind of appeal process and timeframe for appeal will be afforded for Denials:
1. Based on initial portal submission, or resubmission;
2. Denials based on substantive review of application after portal submission or resubmission or of those in “good standing” or renewals.
This lack of communication is causing the entire community of local permittees to experience massive confusion and anxiety. It is imperative to release information that at the very least gives clear indications of these different timelines. Applicants have had to completely reorganize their lives based on a constant ‘hurry up and wait’ mode of conducting business in the County. They are expected to at all times be ready with unknown documents that fulfill unknown expectations and standards. They have zero information about when or how they will be judged. Honest and human mistakes by the staff of MCP are deemed to be correctable at some unknown time and only then by the efforts and detailed request of the applicant, but honest and human error by the applicant, or submission of an incorrect document or something that an outside agency has prepared that is in some way inconsistent with the applicant’s materials, are presumed to be out of compliance and either subject to denial or subject to unknown additional efforts by the applicant at some unknown time. These challenges would be enough to drive even the most seasoned business professional to their wits end, and yet they are only one part of the crisis our community is facing.
2. Local Equity Grant Program & New Jurisdictional Grant Program The overwhelmed and understaffed MCP has been unable to properly manage the contracted Equity Grant administrator and ensure smooth coordination with other County departments. The company contracted to administer the program has been ineffective and the County must have better oversight of the contracts it issues.
MCP inherited the bones of an Equity Grant Program and tried to build the ship as it sailed. However, MCP lacks the capacity to handle proper oversight of the program efficiently. A case in point is that MCP never involved the necessary other County departments prior to the rollout of the Equity Grant Program. A good example was the fact that it was not until AFTER awards were approved and grantees notified that County Counsel created a contract template for use in the program. It was not until AFTER awardees were notified that the County departments involved in financial expenditures were looped in and began the technical process of having the approved funds wind their way through the maze of required departments. As a result, QUALIFIED, APPROVED NOTIFIED AWARDEES did NOT get the funding that was promised to them in 2021.
Again, the current MCP inherited the current program, and the responsibility for pre-grant interdepartmental coordination should have been up to the prior MCP administration. However, once the current MCP took over, it should have immediately evaluated the pragmatic details to ensure the contracted administrator could effectively accomplish the purpose: to get money to the qualified grantees in a timely manner. Stakeholders had specifically forewarned the need to address these matters at length in the last 6 months, but the County did not act. It should be further noted that this was YEARS AFTER the program funds were awarded by the State to the County and more importantly, Equity Grant funding from the state to local equity programs may be RESCINDED and the funding withdrawn if state timelines are not adhered to. In this instance, more than $2 Million in FREE grant funds from the state could be rescinded.
These funds are CURRENTLY needed as a lifeboat and can’t be allowed to drift away. Additionally, the enormous $17.5 million dollar local jurisdiction grant cannot be allowed to drift into the same kind of failure of efficiency, pragmatism and lack of oversight. Planning must be done NOW to push the funding out to those that are intended to benefit from the award. Contrary to MCP and perhaps public perception, the local jurisdiction grant from the state was to directly benefit the state provisional license holders who are struggling to transition to their state annual licenses because they do not yet have their local annual permit and/or do not have the funding to finish the CEQA process and infrastructure projects required by state and local regulations as a prerequisite to state annual licensing.
3. Satisfaction of CEQA Requirements and Appendix G Processing MCP informed one applicant that a determination regarding their Contiguous Expansion Affidavit proof could not be addressed because CDFW was taking issue (again) with the County’s application of that process. This information was not disclosed by the MCP to the Ad Hoc despite the fact that it directly impacts the Portal resubmission timelines. There has been no indication of when or how issues related to the Contiguous Expansion Affidavit, which, if the project is eligible to utilize it, is a necessary component of fulfilling both the primary application requirements as well as the satisfaction of CEQA with respect to Sensitive Species and Habitat. Appendix G processing has completely been halted. The County never issued better guidance materials but instead forced the applicants and staff to engage in interminable back and forth submission, suggested edits, resubmission, and so forth (rinse and repeat). Licensed and qualified CEQA professionals were and are at a loss as to the standards and expectations mounted against each submission without relation to the Appendix G guidance documents posted by the County on its website. Repeatedly, practitioners and applicants requested updates to the templates and materials, but none have ever been issued.
Then, suddenly, without discussion or warning, all processing of Appendix G packets stopped, apparently in September. While it would be wonderful if the reason for the abrupt discontinuance of that processing was due to preparation of updated materials, sadly, we do not believe that is the case. Rather, the program is too overwhelmed and understaffed to continue to process them. Also, any issue with respect to the Contiguous Expansion Affidavits would impact the Appendix G situation. Zero communication to the public was conducted providing an explanation of the abrupt halt until forced to answer questions by individual applicants about why their submitted package had not been responded to. At the very least, should MCP be forced to make a tough call to alter a key programmatic function like the suspension of processing applications or CEQA certifications, it has the responsibility to educate the Board and the public about it as soon as the information becomes available, and should endeavor to email the entire applicant pool with that information and the expected timelines to follow.
4. Local Taxation Currently farmers that have come forward to be regulated are subject to a minimum cultivation tax based on the size of their permit application and not on the amount of product actually grown or sold. Cannabis is the only crop on which the County places a minimum tax regardless of the actual sales conducted. This tax does not take into account crop failure or allow for deductions based on unsold products.
Recently, the Board of Supervisors signed a resolution that it sent to the State asking for State cannabis tax reform but declined to take action on local cannabis cultivation taxes.
We strongly believe that the best way to approach the State with a Tax Reform proposal is as a partner doing everything possible on the local level to match the challenge of the moment for our licensed cannabis businesses. To this end, we urge the County to adopt the following local Tax Reform suggestions that would both provide relief for struggling licensees and signal to the State that Mendocino County is ready to work together with them to address the existential crisis our community is facing:
1. We recommend the Board give direction that cannabis cultivation taxes only be levied based on the amount of canopy being grown (minus any potential crop loss) by a licensee, NOT based on their permit size. It is our understanding that the current Tax Initiative does not mandate that tax is based on permit size, and that it would be under the authority of the Board to adjust this aspect of the tax framework without changing the ordinance and without being in contravention of the Initiative. This can potentially be accomplished through Tax Credits, if necessary.
2. We recommend that the Board work with stakeholders to sponsor an ordinance change to the Tax Code that would base cultivation taxes on Gross Receipts with no guaranteed minimum.
3. Continue to advocate for state cannabis tax reform, including elimination of the cultivation tax, reduction of the excise tax and modification of the manner in which taxes are calculated to prevent triple taxation because sales taxes are based on totals that include both the cultivation and excise taxes.
We believe that initiating local tax reforms will substantially bolster our efforts when asking the State to provide tax relief.
It is short-sighted to fail to address the over-taxation issue at the local level. What amounted to a $5.6 million tax income to the County will evaporate to zero if our local cannabis businesses are shuttered.
We understand that the MCP is understaffed, and we have supported their staffing up for over a year. However, at a certain point, the substantial impact of the inability to staff up quickly, meaningfully, and with the correct expertise and capacity must be addressed. The continued inefficiencies and errors have resulted in systemic failures that together with the other external factors noted above (market crash, over taxation, etc.) have crescendoed into an urgent situation that must be rectified.
The Board was justified in supporting the new program manager nearly a year ago as she attempted to tackle the problems that had built up over the prior 3 &½ years and it was right in authorizing the funds necessary to ensure the department had the resources it needed. However, at this point, it becomes complicit in not getting into the trenches and helping more specifically to tackle these monumental issues— especially as mistakes and errors in rollout and further delays continue. Due to understaffing and lack of history of the current version of the MCP, it is necessary to provide more direct oversight and accountability. However, even before those heroic efforts may be undertaken, the most important immediate need is for communication. Applicants, including annual permit holders that have or will be applying for renewal and that may have provided or be ready to provide Appendix G materials to the County for certification, must have more specific information pertaining to timelines, templates, standards, and ability to engage to correct errors by staff or by the applicant. MCP must be able to articulate processes and standards clearly and apply them consistently.
Until now, offers of practical problem solving from knowledgeable experts and stakeholders have been rejected by MCP. We hope that the County will avoid perpetuating the same type of mistakes that we have repeatedly warned against in the past and will direct MCP to work directly with stakeholders to vet all new processes and programmatic implementations BEFORE they are finalized and rolled out. Additionally, it is time to tell applicants (including annual renewal applicants) exactly what the timelines are moving forward. It is unreasonable to continue to keep them in suspense about how and when they will be able to proceed, especially if there is once again going to be a very narrow (30-day) and arbitrary deadline that every single applicant that was given an incomplete must meet. The fact that this amounts to over 80% of the applicants in the portal provides a good indication that the primary problem is the underlying system and lack of consistent and clear standards, guidelines and communication. Every applicant has VOLUNTEERED to be regulated and stepped forward into the abyss. No one thought it would be as torturous of a process (neither the County nor the applicants) as it has been and continues to be. Every one of these tax-paying businesses is tracked and traced at the state level. Accountability of state license holders is no longer the issue, it is now the County. Urgent attention to the Portal, Appendix G processing, the Equity Grant Program, including oversight and accountability measures for the contracted program administrator, and immediate and pragmatic planning for the rollout of the Local Jurisdiction Grant Program is imperative. Reform of local cannabis taxation policies are necessary to ensure the sustainability of that revenue stream for the County and the support of our struggling small businesses. The time for focused action is now, or we risk losing what remains of our local licensed cannabis community.
Hannah L. Nelson, e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mendocino Cannabis Alliance, e: email@example.com
LOCAL EQUITY ENTREPRENEUR PROGRAM PUBLIC MEETING - January 19th
The County of Mendocino Cannabis Program, in partnership with Elevate Impact Mendocino, will be hosting a public meeting regarding the Local Equity Entrepreneur Program (LEEP) on Wednesday, January 19, 2022 from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. (PST). Registration is required and must be submitted prior to the start of the meeting.
To register for this event please click for following link: mendocinocounty.org/cannabiswebinar
Also, the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) is now accepting applications for equity fee waivers for State licenses. For more information, please visit the DCC’s website: https://cannabis.ca.gov/applicants/equity-fee-waivers/
Mendocino Cannabis Program Staff
THE UGLY TRUTH OF FACEBOOK
by Rosa Miriam Elizalde
No one doubts that Mark Zuckerberg is making great efforts to reinvent his monopoly. Besieged for years for speculating with Facebook users' data, allowing the circulation of conspiracy theories, encouraging genocide, broadcasting live massacres, and manipulating teenagers so that they cannot leave the screen, even if it affects them, the entrepreneur is trying to change the axis of the controversy, without touching the business model he started 18 years ago and that transformed him into one of the richest men in the world.
The Facebook corporation changed its name to Meta and announced with great fanfare a huge investment to build the Metaverse, a virtual reality space where you could do everything as if you were physically in the chosen place.
Why this change? Without directly alluding to it, the answer can be found in a book just released in Spanish by The New York Times journalists Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang, Manipulated. Facebook's Battle for World Domination (Editorial Debate, 2021). In English: An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination.
In the oceans of ink that have been devoted to the platform, this is the first time that more than a thousand hours of interviews with executives, former and current employees and their families, friends, and classmates of Zuckerberg, plus Facebook investors and advisors, and lawyers and activists who have long fought the company are documented. The authors have better sources than all their predecessors in the genre and manage to chip away at the business model deliberately conceived to annihilate competition and squeeze out a third of the planet's inhabitants, with profits of $85.9 billion in 2020, and a market value of $800 billion.
Frenkel and Kang show that "social network mega-profits have repeatedly come at the expense of consumer privacy and security and the integrity of democratic systems. Yet that never got in the way of their success." They owe their privileged position to the platform's big-picture view of its management, with a threat intelligence team that "has previously worked at the National Security Agency, the FBI and other government agencies, studying precisely the hackers and other enemies they now have under surveillance."
One of the surprising revelations in the book is that there is more criticism within the company than we think. Many Facebook employees have tried unsuccessfully to alert their superiors about the disasters caused by algorithms obsessed with platform growth and profit. Some even warned about the Myanmar catastrophe.
Company executives knew nothing about that country, except that it was a new territory to conquer. By entering Myanmar, Facebook "threw a lit match to decades of simmering racial tension and then looked the other way when activists pointed out that the smoke was slowly choking the country," the book says. In the end, the UN declared that ethnic tensions had drifted into a full-blown genocide with the "substantial contribution" of the blue thumb company. It is estimated that 24,000 Rohingya were killed and 700,000 Muslims fled to Bangladesh.
While that was happening, the inflammatory rhetoric of 18 million social network users monitored by only five native Burmese speakers, none of whom lived in Myanmar, was escalating. (Two weeks ago it emerged that tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees have sued Facebook now Meta in the U.S. and U.K. for promoting hate speech).
The book shows that this case is perhaps the most extreme example of how the platform's algorithms privilege extremism, but not the only one. More than 90 percent of Facebook's active users live outside the United States and Canada, and the company often turns a blind eye to hate speech because it encourages user growth especially in the "dark parts" of the planet that come late, and badly, to the Internet.
But the assault on Capitol Hill in Washington a year ago brought the problem home, something that Cubans have also suffered as a result of the hard-line policies towards the island that prevail in Florida and the deep security breaches of the social platform.
The book shows the linguistic inability to understand, and therefore moderate, millions of user posts in non-English speaking communities; the incomprehension of its own algorithms; the inaction when it comes to intervening where artificial intelligence programs do not reach (the company only takes action between 3 percent and 5 percent of cases of hate speech, and in 0.6 percent of posts of violent content); and a palpable carelessness, even idleness when it comes to responding to user complaints.
So the "ugly truth" of Facebook is the toxic business of a private company willing to maintain at any price its hegemony and dominance over millions of digital subjects. One of those interviewed by the journalists comments that "Facebook's problem is Facebook". False. The problem with Facebook is the system designed so that these monopolies not only thrive but even change their name to perpetuate themselves. The question posed by Frenkel and Kang then seems pertinent: what are we going to do in the face of this reality?
CRITICS SAY NEWSOM'S PROPOSED 2022-23 BUDGET FALLS SHORT ON CONFRONTING FOSSIL FUELS
by Dan Bacher
Governor Gavin Newsom on January 10 unveiled his 2022-23 state budget proposal including a $45.7 billion budget surplus, receiving both criticism and praise from environmental and climate justice advocates.
The budget proposal followed one of the most catastrophic years for fish and the ecosystem in California history during which the Delta smelt became virtually extinct in the wild, only 2.6 percent of winter-run Chinook juveniles on the Sacramento River below Keswick Dam survived warm water conditions and most spring-run Chinook salmon on Butte Creek perished before spawning.
The proposal also came after a year in which Consumer Watchdog and Fractracker Alliance revealed at www.NewsomWellWatch.org that Newsom’s oil and gas regulatory agency, CalGEM, had approved a total of 9,728 oil drilling permits from January 1, 2019 until October 1, 2021. In addition, the groups found that the Newsom Administration approved 150 offshore drilling permits in state waters since January 1, 2019.
Newsom touted his “California Blueprint” budget proposal as a “bold plan building on the state’s ongoing work to confront California’s greatest existential threats, bolster our strong economic growth and make historic investments in California’s future.”
“With major new investments to tackle the greatest threats to our state’s future, the California Blueprint lights the path forward to continue the historic progress we’ve made on our short-term and long-term challenges, including responding to the evolving pandemic, fighting the climate crisis, taking on persistent inequality and homelessness, keeping our streets safe and more,” claimed Governor Newsom. “As California’s robust recovery continues, we’re doubling down on our work to ensure all our communities can thrive.”
Under the category “Combating the Climate Crisis,” Newsom proposed the following, including “fighting wildfires,” “tackling the drought” and “forging an oil free future.”
- Fighting Wildfires: The Blueprint provides $648 million to support firefighters, and more helicopters and dozers, along with an additional $1.2 billion — building on last year’s $1.5 billion investment — to step-up forest management and other practices that save lives.*
- Tackling the Drought: On top of last year’s $5.2 billion water package, the Blueprint makes an additional $750 million investment for immediate drought response to aid residents, farmers, and wildlife as California continues to grapple with a historic drought.*
- Forging an Oil-Free Future: The plan will decrease California’s reliance on fossil fuels while preparing our economy and workforce for a clean energy future. California will write the playbook for how America confronts the impacts of climate change — investing billions in climate tech research & development, clean cars, preparing Californians for career opportunities, and further readying our infrastructure to withstand extreme weather. *
During his press conference, Newsom claimed that combating the climate crisis was second only to fighting COVID-19 on his list of priorities.
In response, Food and Water Watch said the governor’s proposals “lacked clear pathways” towards ending fossil fuel proliferation and extraction, instead promoting factory farming and fossil fuel technology like factory farm biogas, carbon capture and â˜green’ hydrogen.
“Newsom’s proposed budget fails,” said Food & Water Watch California Director Alexandra Nagy in a statement. “It lacks a comprehensive investment plan for ending fossil fuels and factory farms, two major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, Newsom includes funds for technologies that prop up these industries, like green hydrogen, factory farm manure digesters and carbon capture.”
“Too many Californians lack access to fresh water and suffer from climate change induced disasters like wildfires. Newsom has allocated $2.7 billion for wildfire mitigation and $6 billion for drought support, but he neglects the root cause of these disasters: climate change hastened by fossil fuel emissions,” Nagy stated.
On the other hand, Sierra Club California praised Governor Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal for including “critical funding to protect Californians against the climate crisis,” while at the same time pointing out that “we need more than just money to fight the climate crisis.”
“The governor’s proposed budget allocates $22.5 billion over five years across all agencies. Specifically, the budget seeks to increase funding for zero emission vehicles, decarbonize California homes and buildings, invest in water conservation and efficiency technologies, support small farmers in transitioning to climate-friendly production, and establish a framework to support transitioning workers from polluting industries to clean energy jobs,” according to the Club in a statement.
The Club also praised Newsom’s budget proposal for committing $6.1 billion in clean transportation to put clean cars, trucks, and buses on the road and support an “equitable transition to electrification for underserved communities.”
In addition, the group said Newsom “reiterated commitments to phasing out fossil fuels. His proposal invests billions to transition the state off of dirty fossil fuels towards affordable, clean energy. There are also provisions in the budget to train oil and gas industry workers in oil well remediation and clean energy jobs.”
“The proposal also includes funds to cap and remediate abandoned oil and gas wells - however - the costs of cleaning up dirty oil wells should be footed by the fossil fuel industry, not state taxpayers,” the Club said.
“Lastly, the governor doubled down on investments in conserving California’s lands and waters. The budget proposal includes $382 million for the 30x30 initiative, which aims to preserve 30% of California’s lands and coastal waters by 2030, as well as an additional $756 million to advance State Parks programs and the Outdoors for All initiative. This funding will help ensure that access to nature is equitable for all Californians,” the Club stated.
Brandon Dawson, Director of Sierra Club California, summarized the Club’s assessment of Newsom’s budget in a statement:
- ”The Governor’s budget proposal highlights just how involved the state must be to combat the climate crisis and protect California for future generations. If adopted, many of the investments announced today will aid in mitigating the worst of climate change’s impacts.*
- ”However, Californians know that we need more than just money to fight the climate crisis. We need strong regulatory actions to address the source of the crisis: the practices of the fossil fuel and other extractive and exploitative industries that continue to harm our lands, rivers, ecosystems, and communities - largely BIPOC and underserved communities. The state must hold these industries accountable and ensure they foot the cost of remediation, not the taxpayers.*
- ”Sierra Club California staff, volunteers, and members look forward to working with the Governor and legislature to ensure that any budget allocations protect our communities, and lead to a safe, clean environment for generations of Californians to come.” *
The release of Newsom’s budget proposal also followed a year during which the Newsom Administration administration continued to advance his Delta Tunnel and plans to build Sites Reservoir on the west side of the Sacramento Valley, despite strong opposition by California Indian Tribes, environmental justice groups, commercial and recreational fishing organizations and conservation groups. Opponents of the tunnel and Sites say the projects would only do further harm to already collapsing fish populations on Central Valley rivers and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
“The Delta is being further diminished along with its cultural and traditional resources that Tribes have utilized from the Delta for food, medicine, transportation, shelter, clothing, ceremony and traditional lifeways from the beginning of time,” said Malissa Tayaba, the Vice Chair of the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians. “Additional diversions from the Sacramento River watershed will exaggerate an already damaged and diminishing Delta ecosystem and estuary and our Tribe’s ties to our homelands.”
Tim Stroshane, policy analyst for Restore the Delta, said the proposed budget “continues to play hide-the-ball about how much state funds are to be spent on the single Delta Tunnel project. The Delta Conveyance Program is not singled out in any one fund, as usual.”
Stroshane pointed out there is one reference in the January Budget Summary (p. 233) to "water conveyance" as part of $5.2 billion water and drought resilience initiative, but it's just one of seven areas of funding for the initiative alongside groundwater recharge, Salton Sea, water supply reliability, water recycling, ecosystem restoration, and flood management.
Program Descriptions for 3240 describes Delta Conveyance Program as "improving Delta ecosystem and ensuring water supply reliability..." and provides funding for "project-specific environmental commitments," EIR/EIS and other permit needs, said Stroshane.
“Most of the proposed water budget seems to center on small and rural community water systems for drought resilience and response investments/preparation. These are smart investments. Now if he would apply that to saving the Bay-Delta estuary we could finally face one of the State’s 'greatest challenges.’ Governor Newsom understands what needs to happen,” concluded Stroshane.