THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, on a 3-2 vote Monday, denied the appeal by the Westport Municipal Advisory Council (WMAC) to stop a project by State Parks to remove the remnants of the old Georgia-Pacific haul road that runs between Ward Avenue on the south and the Ten Mile River on the north. The Pacific Ocean has washed most of it away. The Haul Road, originally built as a railroad nearly 100 years ago to speed the old growth redwood forest in the Ten Mile watershed to the big mill at Fort Bragg, was converted to a log truck road shortly after World War II. The Haul Road was used by log trucks until a half mile section was swept into the Pacific during winter storms 30 years ago.
STATE PARKS acquired the Haul Road right-of-way, which didn't prevent winter storms from carrying off more of the section north of Ward Avenue. In 1995 the area was designated a Nature Preserve based on the presence of a couple of endangered plant species, one of which only grows in the Ten Mile dunes, and a quirky little shore bird, the western snowy plover, which nests on the sand above the high tide line.
STATE PARKS CLAIMS that removal of the Haul Road remnants and the return of plant species like the European Beach Grass, will restore the natural dune ecosystem, which in turn will increase habitat for the threatened bird species called the snowy plover and the endangered plants. Critics say the project will destroy public access, destabilize the dunes, fill wetlands, and not do anything for the snowy plover.
THAD VAN BUREN of the Westport Municipal Advisory Council seems to be the spearhead of the opposition, joined by Stan Anderson, leader of Mendocino County's remnant Republican Party. The odd couple opposition seems to be united by a mutual distrust of State Parks, which seems to be near the top of the list of state agencies the coasties love to hate. State Parks tells the coasties they can't set off fireworks on the beaches at Mendocino and Navarro. That they can't build fires outside of ugly concrete fire rings, which are never located where you want them to be. That their dogs can't run free. And, if Parks has their way, that they will be forced to pay for the privilege of parking their vintage coastal rust buckets at Big River Beach.
FOURTH DISTRICT SUPERVISOR DAN GJERDE, who also came out against the removal project at the meeting in Fort Bragg, read a long statement that the Board should demand that State Parks preserve the mostly intact 2.5 mile northern section of the road and dedicate an easement for the restoration of the road all the way to Ward Avenue. Supervisor McCowen, who earlier sided with State Parks, responded with an equally tedious defense of the removal project along the lines that there was plenty of public access already and it was futile to think restoration of the Haul Road would ever be allowed through a Natural Preserve with shifting dunes and endangered plants and birds. A rep from State Parks claimed removal of the Haul Road and beach grass will restore 60 acres of endangered plant habitat and increase plover habitat by 200 acres, which is probably why the project is supported by Audubon and the California Native Plant Society.
GJERDE, THE FOURTH DISTRICT SUPERVISOR, made a motion to uphold the appeal, preserve the intact northern section of the haul road and an easement for future restoration. The motion, which State Parks said would kill the project, failed on a 3-2 vote, with Supervisor Pinches siding with Hamburg and McCowen. Pinches, who has seldom seen a project he didn't like, said he was looking for a compromise. McCowen then made a motion to deny the appeal and approve the project with some modifications, which passed on a 3-2 vote with Gjerde and Supervisor Brown opposed. The irony is that Pinches, who often gets pegged as a pave it over kind of guy, was the swing vote to remove 2.5 miles of pavement from a Nature Preserve, while Gjerde, the darling of coast lib, voted to keep the road intact. Project opponents have ten days to decide whether to appeal the decision to the California Coastal Commission.
WE THINK REMOVAL of the old Haul Road debris and a return to natural dunes is the right decision. Few people hike and otherwise enjoy the old Haul Road north of Ward Avenue, which is well north of central Fort Bragg and the people who regularly access the Haul Road. There are miles of easily accessed Haul Road and related paths running north from Fort Bragg at Glass Beach all the way to Mackerricher State Park. Return the area north of Mackerricher to dunes and snowy plover. The intrepid will hike it anyway, with detours to the sea shore where it’s impassable. And soon, we hope, there will be a walking path beginning at Noyo Harbor linked to the Haul Road at Glass Beach. This expansion will give the public all the easy access to the Pacific the public needs.
MENDOCINO COUNTY HAS CONCLUDED a series of budget presentations, one held in each Supervisorial District and hosted by a local group. The Fifth District presentation was held last Wednesday evening in Boonville and was hosted by the Community Services District. Which put it in direct conflict with the CSD meeting across the street. Which meant that the local host was unable to attend. The AVA has heard that 25 or so people showed up, which may have included a contingent of five or so from the County. After some introductory remarks by Supervisor Hamburg, CEO Carmel Angelo went into detail about how poor Mendocino County is compared to Napa. This is news? Budget Officer Kyle Knopp then went into detail about the dismal state of County finances what with retirement and other costs shooting upward while County revenues have been flat for the last few years. We are told that most of the questions had to do with public safety, with Anderson Valley people complaining that the resident deputies keep getting assigned to work out of central command in Ukiah.
LAST WEEK we received a press release from Anna Bakalis, a “communications specialist” for SEIU (Service Employees International Union) 1021, complete with a Bay Area phone number, announcing the formation of Mend Mendocino — “a coalition of residents, community and business leaders.” The press release says the coalition will demand “real economic recovery” from the County which “continues to hide money from the taxpayers and cut deeper into jobs, programs and services.” Mend Mendocino comes complete with a website and online petition.
THE PETITION SAYS, “I want to help build a better future for our county.” Well, who doesn't? SEIU, which represents about two-thirds of County employees, often criticizes the County for trying to contract out services. But the Mend Mendocino website is operated by something called Angle Three Associates, LLC, a Delaware Registered Limited Liability Company. Which retains the copyright to all contents of the website, presumably including the lame petition. At last count the so-called coalition had garnered a dozen members. Disregarding a couple of “anonymous” signers, the “coalition” members are all members of SEIU, including the hapless local president, Dave Eberly. The irony is that Eberly, and about four of the other signers, all work for the County’s Information Technology (computer support) department, but these techno-geniuses contracted out with a Delaware LLC for web services. But like everything else to do with SEIU, the real shot callers all work out of Oakland or Sacramento. The local “leaders” are figureheads with no real decision making authority.
THE PRESS RELEASE proclaimed “Mendocino County Residents Demand Economic Recovery, Wage Restoration for Workers at Final Community Budget Hearing.” As luck would have it, the final budget presentation was held on Supervisor John McCowen's home turf in Ukiah. McCowen was re-elected in a walk off against an SEIU candidate who spent her campaign money on fast food and out-of-County consultants. McCowen, always up for a fight, apparently challenged the phony Mend Mendocino coalition to get specific about the money they claimed the County was hiding.
ON MONDAY SEIU RESPONDED with a “Call to Action” for SEIU members to attend Tuesday's Board of Supes meeting “to answer Supervisor McCowen's challenge.” The call was accompanied by a poster of a young woman holding a baby with an inset of a stern looking McCowen with the caption “Families Take on McCowan's (sic) Challenge.” (If they are going to keep attacking the guy, they should at least learn how to spell his name.) The flyer went on to say: “We have the research and facts to show that Mendocino County has the resources to invest in workers and the local economic recovery. We, the workers, will uncover the hidden surpluses.” Which should be good because so far the only thing SEIU has uncovered is their own inability to grasp basic financial concepts.
THE “CALL TO ACTION” also contained the usual imbecilic appeal to “Come Together for Purple Up Tuesday — Wear Purple and be Seen in the Workplace.” Like Patton's Third Army, the geniuses at SEIU are trying to build esprit de corps and strike terror into the heart of the supposed enemy: the Supes and county admin. Except most SEIU members, who know they are getting next to nothing for their union dues, avoid wearing purple because they hate to be reminded that they are being played for suckers. Wearing the purple is like walking around with a sign on your back that says “kick me / I'm stupid.” If SEIU has a realistic plan for restoring wages, and how to pay for it, they should lay it out and make the case.
OBAMACARE: THE LAST BAD IDEA
by Gerald Friedman, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was adopted in 2010, but many provisions are only being phased in over several years. Important provisions that have already taken effect include the requirement that family policies allow parents to keep their children enrolled until they are 26. The high unemployment rate for young adults and the lack of health coverage even for many with jobs has made this provision a great boon to many. But there is much more to come with major elements to be implemented in January 2014, including a huge expansion in Medicaid coverage to the working poor, and the requirement that individuals without other coverage buy health insurance through new state exchanges, often with substantial federal subsidies. Rather than making a fundamental shift to a system where health care is publicly guaranteed as a basic human right, the ACA reforms and expands the existing health insurance system, leaving private for-profit insurance companies as gatekeepers to medical care. Without changing the foundation of the health care infrastructure, the law offers private insurers an expansion in business as a carrot to get them to accept reforms that limit their use of adverse selection, the practice of screening to identify and discourage the expensive sick (“lemon dropping”) and to attract the low-cost well (“cherry picking”). The law also provides a dramatic expansion of public insurance by mandating that everyone is eligible for Medicaid whose income is below 138% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL); but the Supreme Court has limited this program by allowing states to opt out of the expansion. Several Republican-dominated state governments are choosing this option despite the Federal commitment to pay over 90% of the costs of expansion. The Court preserved the requirement that everyone have insurance and the law’s subsidies for buying private insurance, subsidies that will go to households with incomes as much as 400% of the FPL beginning in January 2014 when the individual mandate goes into effect. Despite the Court decision and some state-level refusals to expand Medicaid, it is projected that the ACA will reduce the population without insurance by almost half, from 55 million in 2013 to 29 million by 2017. Over 80% of the newly insured are expected to receive subsidies; with an average subsidy of over $5,000 paid largely through new taxes on the highest earners, the subsidized insurance will be one of the largest redistributive measures ever enacted. Subsidized coverage expansion and restrictions on insurance company abuses are significant gains. But these gains come at a steep price because with the ACA the Obama Administration has entrenched the insurance and drug companies as arbiters of America’s health care system. This is not only repugnant because of these companies’ abusive policies, but it endangers everything that the ACA seeks because it precludes effective action to contain rapidly rising health care costs. Private plans divert health care spending into channels that do nothing to actually deliver health care, such as advertising and profit. The proliferation of plans has also raised billing costs for providers, hospitals, clinics, and private medical practices, costs that now come to nearly a third of the cost of health care. Without effective controls on profits and administrative costs, health care costs will continue to soar, rising faster than household, company and government budgets. The pressure to control health care costs will continue and, having removed profits and administrative waste from consideration, the ACA risks becoming a vehicle to control health care costs by squeezing providers and restricting access. The ACA commits the United States to providing universal access to health care. This is a great achievement, one to be treasured and nurtured. Now the real fight begins: the fight to turn this commitment into a reality that the ACA itself cannot produce. In a few years, it will be clear that the ACA will have failed to provide universal coverage and failed to control costs. As president, Barack Obama accepted the political wisdom that it would be impossible to enact a single-payer program that would abolish the private health insurance market, but prior to his presidency he had been a long-time supporter of single payer. And he was right: only a single payer program can provide universal coverage, and only a single payer program can control costs. The ACA may be the last bad idea that Americans try; after it fails, we will finally do the right thing: single payer health insurance.
SUSAN NUTTER of Fort Bragg writes: “This just in. All five Mendocino County Supervisors voted for the following Resolution which they instigated! This was not a submitted resolution by Move to Amend. So our County governing body has now called upon the US Congress to consider House Joint Resolution 29.”
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Resolution No. 13-nn
Resolution Of The Mendocino County Board Of Supervisors Calling For Amendment To The United States Constitution To Establish That 1) Only Human Beings And Not Corporations Are Endowed With Constitutional Rights, And 2) That Money Does Not Constitute Speech And Therefore Political Contributions Can Be Regulated
WHEREAS, freedom of speech and other rights enumerated in the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights are fundamental to our democracy, as are fair and free elections; and
WHEREAS, a series of United States Supreme Court decisions have held that corporations are entitled to certain constitutional rights enjoyed by natural persons, including the right to free speech; that the use of money to influence elections is the equivalent of speech; and that expenditure of money related to political speech can not be limited based on the speaker’s corporate identity; and
WHEREAS, citizen volunteers in Mendocino County collected sufficient valid signatures to place the following question, known as Measure F, on the November 6, 2012 ballot: Should the elected representatives of Mendocino County be instructed to enact resolutions calling for amendment to the United States Constitution to establish that 1) only human beings and not corporations are endowed with constitutional rights, and 2) that money does not constitute speech and therefore political contributions can be regulated?; and
WHEREAS, Measure F was approved by the citizens of Mendocino County on a vote of 24,492 (74.71%) to 8,289 (25.29%) as certified by the Mendocino County elections office; and
WHEREAS, House Joint Resolution No. 29 was introduced on February 14, 2013, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United State providing that the rights protected by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only and do not extend to corporations and other artificial entities; and that the expenditure of money to influence elections is not constitutionally protected speech and that political contributions may be regulated.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors hereby calls for the United States Constitution to be amended to establish 1) that only human beings and not corporations are endowed with constitutional rights, and 2) that money does not constitute speech and therefore political contributions can be regulated.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors encourages Congress’ consideration of House Joint Resolution No. 29.
AN UNCONFIRMED REPORT out of Fort Bragg says Western Union has been pressured, apparently by the feds, not to accept cash for dispatch to Mexico which, if true, is another outrage perpetrated by Big Bro. The assumption, of course, is that any Mexican with cash is in the drug business, and it is, even by government standards of reasoning, unreasoning. I heard it from a man who was unable to wire money from Fort Bragg to his wife in Mexico.
AUGUST IS FAMOUSLY a slow news period. It's always pretty slow in Mendocino County this time of year. Everyone's still outside guarding the crop. When it gets cold and everyone's inside getting on each other's nerves — that’s when the trouble starts, that and home invaders after the dope money. But a glance at the rest of the world? We've got major droughts and fires going here at home and the Hope and Change Gang is about to launch an air war against Syria. Say, how many undeclared wars have we had now? Doesn't the Constitution say something about only Congress having the authority to declare war? Beginning with Korea, we've had what? Twenty military actions solely on the president's authority?
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY: “I observe an interesting disconnect portrayed by many in the weed trade: We're just gentle hippies farming ‘medicine’ ensuring this nation's stoners can get a quality buzz on — a noble and righteous cause — so everyone should just stop bitching about the money the growers are making. Yet they conveniently overlook the fact that the middlemen in this equation — the people they do business with — are racketeering gangster thugs of the first order, and these POS are making millions off Humboldt bud whilst simultaneously selling your kid meth and heroin. But that's cool, right? Go along to get along, or something. The weed isn't the problem. The smugglers' culture is the problem. I'd like to see marijuana legalized for no greater reason than to remove that source of revenue from the pockets of organized crime syndicates and punk-ass killers.”
UPDATE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED BY THE ORGANIZERS.
THE EMENDAL CHORALE, based in Willits, will be singing songs of peace in the Mendocino County Fair parade in Boonville on Sunday September 15th at noon. Everyone is welcome to join us, to either walk or ride with our entry "1,000 Grandmothers for Peace" You may bring a large picture of your grandchild or grandmother to carry. Inspired by the Holly Near song "A Thousand Grandmothers" we want to "send in a thousand grandmothers, they will surely volunteer" with all their wisdom and love, to bring peace to the world. Check out www.emendalchorale.org for a video of our 2012 Willits Fourth of July Parade entry, or for more information. Meet at Anderson Valley High School in Boonville at 11am on September 15th. Wear a hat for the sun and bring water. There will be a truck and trailer for those who would rather ride. For more information call Dobbe at 367-5946. Grandfathers, grandchildren, anyone who yearns for peace, you are all welcome too!