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Off The Record

AT FIRST LOOK, the great storm didn't live up to its pre-rains hype. But by Monday, especially inland, considerable damage and even controversy about the reason for that damage, was being assessed. There was some flooding in predictable places, and Highway 128 is still closed as of Monday morning. But the Navarro always closes 128 in the big rains because it rises rapidly in the narrows northwest of Flynn Creek Road. Four hours of rain, up and over its banks it goes. Willits flooded where it always floods, around East Commercial Street near the County Museum. Ukiah? According to KC Meadows at the Journal, “The question lots of inland people are asking is, Why didn't the Army Corps reduce releases out of Lake Mendocino? There's plenty of room in the lake for lots more water. By not releasing so much so much water from the lake flooding in areas of Ukiah like Oak Manor may not have occurred.”

Jeff Silva-Brown, Ukiah on the Press Democrat's comment line, wrote of his suspicion that the Corps had indeed released too much water from Lake Mendocino: "The problem is that the spike in the outflow matches the flooding in the Oak Manor neighborhood, and the drawback matches when the water level dropped down in Oak Manor. That much rain does not cause this kind of flooding this far up the river and not flood lower down in Hopland. People lost homes, cars, and there was huge property damage in a storm that should not have caused that much damage. Now the evidence shows that the Dam released when they didn't need to, just like in 2005. Only this time they are saying it is a faulty gauge, even when the outflow almost dead-on matches the flooding and the water receding? Something doesn't click."

A HUMCO PG&E worker remarked ominously early Saturday that "roads are disappearing everywhere," but by noon Sunday the roads began to reappear as blue skies and bright sunshine broke out everywhere, from San Francisco to Eureka.

REGARDING LAKE MENDOCINO, Sean White, general manager of the Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District, had said Friday, “There is a high probability that Hopland will experience significant flooding this Sunday, depending on the accuracy of the current rain forecast.” Which was for lots and lots of rain beginning late Saturday night lasting well into Sunday. The big Sunday rains were pretty big but they moved through in about four hours. White had also said that “Lake Mendocino has ample room to absorb this flood and there should be no need to make any releases.” “We are working closely with (Sonoma County Water Agency) and the (United State Army Corps of Engineers) to maximize the flood control benefits of Lake Mendocino. The current forecast is based on a closed reservoir.” If the Russian River attempts to reclaim Hopland near 101, that attempt, White said, will occur about 2pm Sunday when the RR reaches flood stage.

THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS just kept on releasing water, and the downstreamers got flooding.

SHERIFF'S DEPUTY ORELL MASSEY was seriously injured early Tuesday morning (December 4th) when 21-year-old Cassandra Guerra somehow managed to careen into Massey's patrol car. According to the CHP, Massey suffered major injuries in the collision, which occurred on North State Street, Ukiah, near Moore Street. Ms. Guerra was found not to be under the influence of anything but her own negligence, and will be charged with, among other things, "driving at an unsafe speed for conditions." Massey is recovering at Adventist Hospital.

THE MENDO SUPES issued the following statement Tuesday:  "Federal authorities have subpoenaed information related to Mendocino County Code Chapter 9.31 but have not disclosed their interest in the requested information. County Counsel has been directed to retain outside counsel and to take appropriate action."  Once that action is solidified, the Board will issue another statement.  The Board also released the 2-page subpoena to the press." (See subpoenas, below.)

WELL, WELL. Sifting the lawyerly nebulousness of this Orphic pronouncement, it seems that the Supervisors are going to resist the feds, and good for them.

AN ARMED ROBBERY can get you ten years in the state pen, maybe more if you've got a history of serious mopery. So, are you going to risk the state pen for an armed robbery of a donut shop? If you're a Ukiah mope you just go ahead and chance it, although you're probably going to do the same amount of time if you'd tried to knock over the Savings Bank of Mendocino. Sunny's Donuts in Ukiah got hit Sunday morning a little after 1am when two guys in hoodies walked in, brandished a knife and demanded the money. The baker, a guy who puts in long hours for not much money, gave the two crumb bums whatever was in the register, probably a whole day's sales, a serious loss for a small business, and the two robbers walked off into the night to buy some tweek. (Probably. I mean, it's unlikely they needed the money to buy stocking stuffers for their kids.) Next time you're in Ukiah, pop in for donuts at the long-time South State Street shop. Nice people, jelly donuts to die for.

WILL MENDO ROLL? No sooner had I blithely informed a caller that I'd been assured by a well-placed person that the names of the people who'd signed up for the County's zip-ties would not be divulged to the feds, it now seems that the County will turn over all the records related to the aborted program, and if those records include the names of the people who signed up, well, nighty-night and sleep tight zip-tyers.

MOST OF US PROBABLY would like to see the County tell the feds, which functions in Mendocino County like a kind of low intensity occupying army, to piss off now and forever. But it's not us who would be carted off to one of the federal icebox cells in Alameda County; it would be the Sheriff and the Supervisors who'd be renditioned.

SHERIFF ALLMAN and the Supervisors are unlikely to resist naming names if it comes to it. It may be that all the feds want is the $829,726 the Sheriff collected from 2010 until the federal attorney, in January of 2012, told the Supes and the Sheriff they'd be held personally liable if they continued to sell grow licenses.

MEANWHILE, everyone but Sheriff Allman has gone to the mattresses. Allman told the media last week that the feds can see whatever zip tie records they want to see.

A NORTHCOAST GROUP calling itself the Emerald Growers Association, via spokesperson Kristin Nevedal, announced, “We are actively pursuing legal solutions,” to the subpoena served by the federal government on Mendocino County for records associated with the 9.31 Ziptie program. Her group is hoping to protect patients’ rights and keep addresses etc. from being revealed to the federal government. The federal subpoena could be used to gain access to addresses as well as possibly confiscate the fees associated with the innovative program. This legal motion appears to contradict the statement by Attorney General Eric Holder that promised not to prioritize the prosecution of those who followed state marijuana laws.

MENDOCINO COUNTY'S ZIPTIE program allowed the legal growing of 25 plants or less for a fee or up to 99 plants in the case of medical collectives.

THE EMERALD GROWERS ASSOCIATION, California Norml and Americans for Safe Access are encouraging the Mendocino County Supervisors to resist any turn over of the records. The EGA says the State of Washington has successfully resisted similar federal demands.

ERNIE BRANSCOMB COMMENTS: “It just goes to show you that no good deed goes unpunished. I know Sheriff Tom Allman to be a good and decent man. He is a local native son. I knew his father. I know his mother and most of his relatives, all good people. The ziptie program was a good idea to make the best of a bad situation. For the State of California to declare that medical Marijuana was legal then give no guidelines for the regulation of production is where the real crime lies. If the feds were to go after anybody, it should be the State. It is grossly unfair to go after the counties that get caught in the middle with no resources to either regulate or eliminate MJ cultivation. All growers know that Marijuana is illegal, in any amount, federally. To that extent they are not entirely innocent, but they were trying to work within the guideline of the Zip-tie program and were paying permit money in good faith. It is sad that all agencies are now pitted against each other. If the feds go after local law enforcement for any perceived misdeeds I will be glad to join the uprising."

MENDOCINO COUNTY made a quick and easy $166,895.00 last week, as described in the following press release from the Sheriff's Office: "On 11-27-2012, at about 1930 hours, an MCSO Deputy conducted a traffic enforcement stop on a vehicle, near the Moss Cove rest stop located on Highway 101 between Willits and Laytonville, for exceeding the posted speed limit. Following the stop the Deputy contacted the occupants of the vehicle who identified themselves as Keith Stewart Jr., of Brooklyn, New York, and Alexander Odell, of Eureka, California. While speaking to Odell and Stewart the Deputy learned that the vehicle they were operating was a rental and that neither of them was listed on the rental agreement. The Deputy was also unable to locate any driver’s license information for either Odell or Stewart. During the enforcement stop the Deputy deployed his K9 partner at which time the K9 detected an odor of an illegal drug(s) coming from within the vehicle. Following a search of the vehicle the Deputy located a very large quantity of US currency in the trunk of the vehicle. Both Odell and Stewart stated they had no knowledge of the US currency that had been located in the trunk of the vehicle they were operating. The Deputy also located a large sum of US currency on the person of both Odell and Stewart. The Deputy was also able to determine that both Stewart and Odell were involved in the recent sales of marijuana. In total, the Deputy located, and seized, $166,895.00 in U.S. currency. Both Odell and Stewart were arrested for possession of money obtained as a result of, or intended to purchase, a controlled substance and transported to the Mendocino County jail where each is being held on $25,000.00 bail."

JUDGE JOHN GOLDEN has died at age 87. Golden was appointed to the Lake County bench by Reagan in 1974, but he often sat as a judge in Mendocino County, especially in the politically turbulent cases our over-large contingent of superior court jurists routinely take a powder on. Golden was an irritable little guy with a refreshing lack of tolerance for incompetent lawyers. Several times I enjoyed his direct intervention in trial interrogatories where he had to remind the lawyers how to do it. Golden was no dummy and not a bad judge, considering who appointed him. He made several decisions that made the big boys very unhappy — one in 1999 that stopped one of Hurwitz's many crimes committed under the auspices of Pacific Lumber, and he managed to preside fairly over the famous Bear Lincoln trial. The most indefensible decision Golden made, I would say, was the Lake County wine ruling for Jess Jackson and against Jed Steele. In that one, some of you may recall, Jackson said that Steele couldn't make the wines for himself at his own new Steele Vineyards that Steele had made for Jackson. Jackson, you see, owned the recipes, which consisted entirely of Steele's olfactory apparatus Golden inexplicably ruled for Jackson, and The Big Wind went on to become second only to Gallo as the world's largest purveyor of wine.

FORT BRAGG CROOKS really have to start thinking a lot bigger than counterfeit twenties, and if they're going to fake twenties they have to bear down and do a better job of it. The Fort Bragg PD says they've had three phony Jacksons turned into them in a week. All three bills had the same serial number — E48787097B — and were missing watermarks and holograms. The cops say a counterfeit testing pen would have revealed the bills' bogus-ness right away.

LAUREN SINNOTT of Point Arena has become the first person in modern Mendocino County political history to lose an election to a write-in candidate, according to the final election results released last Thursday. Former Councilwoman Sinnott got 57 votes, losing to write-in Candidate Caitlin Riehl who garnered 79. (Eight votes were for what Ms. Bartolomie euphemistically called “unqualified candidates” aka Mickey Mouse, Jesus Christ, etc.)

POINT ARENA Town Clerk Hunter Alexander issued this follow-up press release: “The newly elected officials for the City of Point Arena will take their oath of office and begin their terms at the December Point Arena City Council meeting, to be held Tuesday, December 18, 2012., at 6pm. City Council is comprised of five Councilmembers: Doug Burkey (currently Mayor) and Terry Hughey (currently Vice Mayor) and the three newly elected members Burfoot, Koogle and Sanders. Notice of Reorganization of the City Council will be released immediately following the Dec. 18, 2012 meeting, during which the new City Council will affirm or re-elect the positions of Mayor/Vice Mayor, make committee appointments and the Mayor will then assign Commissionerships. Please join the City of Point Arena in welcoming our City Officials!”

THAT SAME TURBULENT little town, population 449, has settled with its former City Clerk/Administrator Claudia Hillary for $90,000. There was plenty of back and forth at the time Ms. Hillary was fired, but her dismissal, to those of us looking in from outside the seething seaside village, it seemed highly arbitrary. The City's lawyer seems to have agreed, hence the settlement which, of course, will be paid out by the City's insurer, not by the persons who wrongfully fired her. Ms. Hillary had been employed by Point Arena for four years. She was dismissed in closed session, always a suspicious way of offing someone because the secrecy implies that the reason or reasons for the dismissal won't stand public scrutiny. Sure enough, they didn't.

THE AVA of November 21st reached San Francisco readers on November 28th. Also on November 21st, a letter was mailed from the Republic of Congo to Syria. Both countries are engulfed in civil wars. The letter posted in Brazzaville on the 21st reached Damascus on November 27th, one day earlier than the newspaper sent from Boonville to San Francisco. I ask you, dear reader, what has become of our Post Office?

IT'S OFFICIAL! Ukiah is 'far out and nearby,' the $21,000 slogan created by a consultant in Walnut Creek. The “Visit Ukiah Task Force” has given the controversial slogan the official Ukiah stamp of approval, in spite of a mostly negative reaction from the Ukiah public. The matter will now do a fast fade into Ho-Hum obscurity because it will take a lot more than a slogan and a blandly corporate logo to lure tourists to Ukiah. “Far out. Nearby.”

EXCERPTS FROM JUDGE HENDERSON'S remarks at the November 29th hearing at Town Hall in Fort Bragg concerning the proposed cutbacks at the Ten Mile Court in Fort Bragg. (We’ll have a full report on the hearing next week.)

JUDGE HENDERSON opened by introducing judges Reimenschneider, Brennan, Behnke, Mayfield, Nadel, and Moorman. (Judge Nelson was not in attendance, nor was Magistrate Basner.) “If any of you,” the Judge began, “wanted the judges to experience first-hand the problems of driving over the hill during bad weather — I mean, it rained solidly and heavily from Ukiah all the way to Camp 19.”

HENDERSON THEN EXPLAINED their eminence's decision-making process: “Because we have a comfortable number of judges we always try to reach consensus.” Henderson didn't suggest that the “comfortable number of judges” might be part of the problem. He said the judges had received much opposition to their cutback proposal for Ten Mile. He said the judges realized there were objections to reducing Ten Mile's hours but, he suggested, he hadn't realized there were so many objections, tacit admission that the judges are totally out of touch with public opinion affecting the lives of some 40% of the people living in Mendocino County.

HENDERSON THEN ANNOUNCED that the Superior Court of Mendocino County “will not reduce court services in Ten Mile” as they'd hope to do. (Loud applause from the audience who didn't seem to hear…

“AS PLANNED,” Henderson emphasized. “We have no plans at all to reduce court services — at this time. We stubbed our toe on this one. We are still faced with a budget reduction of around $1 million. We will try to figure out how to do that.”

YES “WE” WILL. And we’re here to help. Start with the alleged $1 million budget shortfall. Then assume that each of our nine judges gets a total of about $250k from the taxpayers each year $186k salary, plus generous benefits). Then look at our neighbor, Lake County. Lake County has five judges. That means Lake County is getting along just fine with four fewer judges for a comparable number of cases. Four times $250k = $1 million. Poof! Problem solved!

HENDERSON noted that the courts were not expected to get any of the recently enacted Proposition 30 money, which comes as a surprise to us because it clearly says in the initiative that some of the money would go to the courts. “I can't say that that's going to help,” Henderson said.

THIS IS ALL HIGHLY IRRITATING, if not outrageous. So the judges are going back to the drawing board, having made themselves look reasonable by withdrawing this ill-considered proposal that they were fully prepared to stuff down the Coast's throat. When they learned that the Coast wasn't going for it, the judges had to call a public meeting to cool out public opinion. Which was mutinous, and which included all of the County’s top law enforcement officers (the DA, the Sheriff and the three Police Chiefs) and a lot of recall talk of all eight of them if Ten Mile Court was effectively put out of business. What the next sketch off the drawing board of these cosseted shut-ins will look like is anybody’s guess, but it probably won’t be a reduction in the number of judges or judges’ pay. ($186k plus an array of fringes unimagined by Louis the Sun King.)

HENDERSON, the presiding judge, ended by saying it was “ironic” that the judges had made the decision to cut Ten Mile way back only to change their minds, leaving unstated the obvious: When the judges realized that people were very, very angry about the loss of Ten Mile THEN their honors called a public meeting to back off. Prediction: They'll try it again, and will again plead funding shortages.

WHAT'S REALLY HAPPENING is the eight Ukiah-based judges desperately want to justify the construction of a new County Courthouse in Ukiah, but to justify the thing they need to show that the present, perfectly serviceable County Courthouse, can't handle the present caseload. Which it couldn't if all the matters now processed at Ten Mile were heard in Ukiah. They got away with closing the Willits Courthouse (easily the ugliest structure ever erected in Mendocino County and now an abandoned, malignant hulk resting forever in the heart of the Gateway to the Redwood Empire) and they can't get away with closing Ten Mile simply to erect a massive new eyesore in downtown Ukiah.

MASS OPPOSITION to any reduction in Ten Mile Court's operations has convinced the eight Solomons of the Ukiah-based Mendocino County Superior Court that they themselves might be massively reduced. There was talk of an 8-judge recall if Ten Mile was closed or its hours reduced with a view to closing the court. As one prominent Coastie put it, “We'll recall all eight of them. Would a recall succeed? Probably not, but it would embarrass the hell out of them and get a lot of attention in the outside world.”

DEIRDRA LAMB WRITES: “Hi Everyone, It was a very packed Town Hall meeting tonight regarding downsizing our 10 Mile Courthouse which would certainly lead to a closure, and thank you to all of you who sent letters and made comments on the website, our local courthouse has been saved! Judge Henderson made a display of budget cutbacks on a power point, then surprised the standing room only crowd with the admission that 'On this decision, we stubbed our toe. We never imagined the Coastal people would come forth in the sheer numbers, and we listened. We have decided not to make any cutbacks on the 10 Mile District court.' There were many speeches from public servants, including Sheriff Tom Allman who had a good idea to set up video arraignments from the jail to save money, and thanks to the community from Chief of Police Mayberry, some good speeches from the alliance reps Carter Sears and Steve Antler, Supervisors Dan Hamburg and Kendall Smith, and mayor Dave Turner who estimated it would cost the City of Fort Bragg about $180,000 a year in police staffing and travel if the court was moved to Ukiah. There was a very moving speech from the Chief of Police in Willits who said he had no idea the impact would be so hard when they closed the courthouse in Willits, he often has two or three officers in traffic court in Ukiah and is so short on staff he himself has to go on the street and is short staffed. He said he wished he had a crowd like we have here on the Mendocino Coast when they met back when before the court was closed there, but only a handful of police officers showed up and it was all over. Not like here, the crowds were spilling out on to the rainy Main Street and it was standing room only. There was plenty of applause after the announcement, and the Judges encouraged us on the Coast to write letters to Senator Wes Chesbro and our State officials to keep the funding coming our way. Thank you to all of you supporters — this was a big win.”

WRITING TO CHESBRO, of course, is like writing to your backyard fig tree. The fig tree is much more responsive, yielding a nourishing fruit all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Chesbro? Barren, his very name synonymous with sterility.

THE TEN MILE LESSON is clear. The Robes' machinations can be successfully resisted, and the room the other night contained more than a handful of lawyers who have their calculating little eyes on one of Mendocino County's eight sinecures, with Judge Brennan of Ten Mile seen as the most electorally vulnerable of the eight. The task now before us is to stop the Robes' plans for a new County Courthouse in Ukiah. Reasons? Everything from aesthetic to the obvious fact that there's nothing wrong with the present County Courthouse.

OUR FAVORITE remark in the post-Ten Mile clamor came from Banjo Bob: "I've been here thirty years and I've never seen any of these judges, and we'll probably never seen any of them again in one room like this."

THE LA TIMES REPORTS that two hundred school districts across California, including Boonville and Willits, have borrowed billions of dollars using a costly and risky form of financing that has saddled them with staggering debt. Schools and community colleges have turned increasingly to so-called Capital Appreciation Bonds in the economic downturn, which has depressed property values and made it harder for districts to raise money for new classrooms, auditoriums and sports facilities.

UNLIKE CONVENTIONAL shorter-term bonds that require payments to begin immediately, this type of borrowing lets districts postpone the start of payments for decades, passing the increasingly worthless buck to children yet unborn. Some districts are gambling the economic picture will improve in the decades ahead, with local tax collections increasing enough to repay the notes. CABs, as the bonds are known, allow schools to borrow large sums without violating state or locally imposed caps on property taxes, at least in the short term. But the lengthy delays in repayment increase interest expenses, in some cases to as much as 10 or 20 times the amount borrowed. The practice is controversial and has been banned in at least one state.

CALIFORNIA TREASURER Bill Lockyer compares CABs to the sort of creative Wall Street financing that contributed to the housing bubble, the subsequent debt crisis and the nation's lingering economic malaise. “They are terrible deals,” Lockyer said. “The school boards and staffs that approved of these bonds should be voted out of office and fired.”

MOST SCHOOL BONDS, like home mortgages, require roughly $2 to $3 to be paid back for every $1 borrowed. But CABs compound interest for much longer periods, meaning repayment costs are often many times that of traditional school bonds. And property owners — not the school system — are likely to be on the hook for bigger tax bills if the agency's revenues can't cover future bond payments, Lockyer and other critics say.

THE NEWPORT MESA Unified School District in Orange County, for instance, issued $83 million in long-term notes in May 2011. Principal and interest will total about $548 million, but officials say they are confident they can pay off the debt. The bonds “have allowed us to provide for facilities that are needed now,” said the district's business manager, Paul Reed. “We could not afford to wait another 10 years.”

DA DAVID EYSTER announced last Friday that Billy Norbury has been sentenced to 50 years to life in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) for the January murder of Jamal Andrews in Redwood Valley. "Defendant Norbury will not be eligible to schedule a parole hearing until he is approximately 83 years of age.”

BEHIND UKIAH'S COSTCO FIASCO: Ukiah's Redevelopment Agency bought the 18 acres on Airport Park Boulevard intending to sell it to Costco. The City also sold RDA bonds intending to use part of the money to make needed improvements to the Talmage Road/US 101 interchange, as well as the crumbling Airport Boulevard itself, and put in a stop light at Commerce and Airport Blvd which will become a parking lot (with or without the stop light) once Costco is built. Costco has made it clear the City must pay for these improvements if it wants to land the Ukiah Costco store.

BECAUSE the City of Ukiah ignored the writing on the wall and did not take timely action to meet reasonably foreseeable deadlines, the use of the RDA bond money has been called into question and the transfer of the 18 acres from RDA to the City was clearly illegal. The State Department of Finance (DOF), charged with overseeing the dissolution of the Ukiah RDA and others around the State, has just ordered three of the four city RDAs it has audited to pay back tens of millions in RDA property that was improperly transferred). So now the City Attorney is recommending that the 18 acres be transferred from the City to the “successor agency” to the City RDA, which is, once again, the City, but now wearing the successor agency hat. The successor agency must answer to an “oversight board” (mostly made up of representatives from other agencies that were milking the RDA cash cow — MCOE, Ukiah Unified, Mendo College — but also community watchdog Lee Howard and Kyle Knopp from the County's CEO Office).

THE CITY OF UKIAH hopes to sell the 18 acres to Costco, which is allowed under RDA dissolution, but then wants to use the money from the sale to carry out other RDA projects, which might or might not be allowed. The State Department of Finance could say the money has to be distributed to the taxing agencies that were deprived of tax revenue that went instead to the RDA. (Curiously, the aforementioned edu institutions are in favor of the Ukiah RDA successor agency continuing to collect the “tax increment” revenue (the additional taxes to be paid by Costco) and then distributing it to them — instead of it going to them directly. If it went to the educrats directly, the money would have to be spent on the education of children, a perennial low priority in Mendocino County. If it is distributed to them via the “RDA pass through agreements” the money will be theirs to spend as they want — new district offices in the case of Ukiah Unified, for example — instead of having to pay teachers, buy books and so forth.)

COSTCO has submitted a “development application” (to satisfy a requirement of the 18 acre land purchase agreement) and is also paying for an EIR on its store development (but is under no obligation to finalize the deal). Costco has made it clear that the City must deal with the Talmage Road interchange and Airport Park Blvd infrastructure if they want Costco to come here. So the City needs to shell out in the range of $6 million in improvements to land Costco. Because they may not be able to use the RDA bonds, they are also working on borrowing the money from the state. The City is desperate to land the Costco deal because they see it as the only way to solve their budget shortfall.

MEANWHILE, DDR (Developer's Diversified Realty) is still waiting in the wings with its industrial wasteland on Ukiah's slab city, Masonite, which is also right next to a freeway interchange. If the City fails to land Costco, or if the City fails to reach a sales tax sharing agreement with the County, the County could decide that maybe one big box store (and the millions in tax revenue it would generate) might not be so bad, in contrast to the full blown megamall that DDR was trying to shove down our throats. Until the City gets Costco to sign on the bottom line and/or inks a tax sharing agreement with the County, it can't be sure that Costco won't decide to turn its back on the Airport Boulevard site.

WHICH LEAVES Gary Ackerstrom, the developer of Airport Business Park, waiting in the wings. He is seeking to activate a clause that said the City must land a big box within three years or he can buy the 18 acres back. The City says it has met the agreement, based on the supposed application from Costco. But no one can take any action on the application, because the EIR has not been completed. So it is obvious the “development application” is just a piece of paper with no meaning other than to fend off the Ackerstrom threat.

ACKERSTROM says he is ok with the deal if Costco really goes in, otherwise he wants to exercise his option to buy the land back. The City says that based on the pro forma “application” from Costco, that they have met the terms of the agreement. The “tolling agreement” with Ackerstrom stops the clock from ticking, pending further events. If Costco goes in, fine; if it does not, then the City and Ackerstrom can go to mediation on what the option agreement really meant. Ackerstrom is notoriously difficult to deal with and is suspect numero uno for the collapse of the previous Costco deal.

PS#1: (from a memo from City staff to the RDA oversight board) Summary: The Redwood Business Park of Ukiah (“RBP”) claims that it has an option to purchase property in the Redwood Business Park that was purchased by the City of Ukiah’s former Redevelopment Agency (“Agency”) in 2009. The Successor Agency disputes this claim. RBP agrees to waive any such option as to any of this property that is purchased by Costco Wholesale Corporation (“Costco”). The City of Ukiah (“City”), RBP and the Successor Agency are considering an agreement to toll any time deadline for requesting arbitration to resolve this dispute. If Costco purchases all of the property that will render the dispute moot and avoid any need to arbitrate the dispute.

PS #2: The City was using $1 million in RDA funds to pay salaries and benefits, including a big chunk of the City Manager, the Assistant City Manager and the assistant to the Assistant City Manager (who was called the Grant Administrator, or something like that). With the demise of the RDA, were any of these positions asked to take a hit to help close the extra million budget gap caused by the loss of RDA funding which could no longer be used to offset admin salaries? No! That is not well received by line staff who are being asked to take a 10% pay cut, as the City finally gets around to making the hard decisions that the County faced almost three years ago.

COAST MEMO OF THE WEEK: Big Cutbacks at College of the Redwoods, Fort Bragg Campus. (Below is a link to an article about the current College of the Redwoods president Kathy Smith and her previous occupations. She was actually working for Mendocino College before CR. Also, she was recently married which is why her name is Smith now and no longer Lehner.

1. The dean position at the Mendocino (Fort Bragg) campus is being eliminated. This means that our current dean, whose contract ends June 1st, will not be replaced.

2. CR's custodian, maintenance man, lab tech, library tech, and administrative office assistant were all laid off. Their last day will be January 31st.

3. Out of the five layoffs listed in #2 everyone except the administrative office assistant has the option of being rehired, but their hours will be reduced from full time to 19 hours a week and they will no longer receive benefits.

4. Our financial aid officer is retiring at the end of the year, and she is not being replaced. She will be coming back very part time in the spring semester, but beyond this there is no plan to provide a new financial aid officer.

5. Our IT person is retiring at the end of this fall semester, and he is not being replaced. This means we will have no one to repair computers or help with technical problems.

6. Out of the 38 layoffs district wide, five of them took place on our little campus.

7. Please get the word out that people can contact Barbara Rice, the trustee for the Mendocino Coast, at They can also contact CR's President Kathy Smith at The more people that contact these two women with their concerns on this issue the more attention it will get.

NORM de VALL ADDS: “I think it's time for a Citizen's Committee to meet with Mendocino Community College and Santa Rosa JC. This is reminiscent of citizen pushback 20 + years ago. We can initiate a plebiscite and attempt to merge our college district with another community college. As before CR et al will take our tax share, spend it somewhere else and return less and less to the district. — Norman de Vall, former CR Marine/Maritime Technologies Instructor

AN AFFECTED READER WRITES: "I am now taking finals at CR in Fort Bragg and in less than two weeks, I will be eligible to transfer to a four-year program (and I am looking at Humboldt). I may however not be able to afford continuing my education right now because of the skyrocketing costs. I do not understand all of the factors that go into decisions made to increase tuition costs and budget issues that lead to layoffs and pay cuts of faculty, but I am learning. I will contact both Barbara Rice and Kathy Smith, but I wanted to share a question that I have already submitted to CR board members. I did a little research on two-year versus four-year schools. About ten years ago, there were proposals being made around the country to allow two-year schools the option of implementing four-year programs. There are a number of US schools who have been doing this and the idea was proposed in California (San Diego County) in January 2010. But I couldn’t find evidence of the idea going anywhere. I think it is an awesome idea that would benefit everyone. Ten times the funding, greater opportunity/access to obtain a four-year degree, better pay for instructors (finally), and stronger community. Maybe there are obstacles here that I’m not yet aware of that would make this an impossibility. But I would sure like to know what they are so we could at least try to overcome them."

CORNELL WEST ON OBAMA: “God, no! He’s had four years and he’s proved himself to be a Wall St. President, he’s proved himself to be imperial to the core, he’s proved himself to be a war criminal. And you have to call that for what it is. And people say ‘oh you hatin’ ’ and I say ‘I’m a Christian. I hate the deed; I don’t hate the person,’ because he has the potential to change. Malcolm X was a gangster for a long time; he was wrong, he changed and he became a great freedom fighter. All of us have the capacity to change, you see. And so in that sense, you know, as a Christian, ‘you love your enemies’ which means you better have some! (laughs) Because if you take a stand for poor and working people, you gonna’ have some enemies! That was part of what Jesus had in mind — if you go through life with no enemies, you’re probably not living a good life. You’re going to have enemies if you take a stance. And, the question about loving them is not sadomasochistic: you’re not loving your oppressors because they’re beating you down but because they’re still human beings and you know you have the capacity, inside of you, to actually engage in those same kinds of vicious forms of revenge, envy, domination, hatred and so forth. And therefore that allows a self-critique within your own soul. But, you know, I don’t want to get too theological here. But the point is that it’s been a challenge. What’s interesting now is that more and more people are coming around. I gave a talk in San Francisco with 4,000 people; in New York, 3,000 people. You think, ‘wow, this thing is getting bigger and bigger and bigger!’.”


PS. You can’t get there by bus. Funny, you'd ask.

PPS. How many people send out their own retirement party announcement? (The three recommended hotels are all on Airport Park Boulevard, in the City of Ukiah, even though the event is at Barra's, north of town beyond the city limits. You'd think the Discovery Inn, on the north end, might at least get a mention. Especially since the Discovery Inn pays Bed Tax to the County, and the County, through the Mendocino Council of Governments, provides most of the funding for Richard’s MTA.)

PPPS. Wes Chesbro has purchased an old Ukiah Golf Trophy and inscribed it: “Good goin’, Bruce. I love you, bro. You’re just like me, never did an honest day’s work in your life.” Jim Mastin is already blubbering in anticipation of Richard’s retirement speech.

PPPPS. The dinner will probably be paid for out of a Department of Transportation grant.

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