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Off The Record

THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS voted final approval of the 2013-14 Final Budget at their meeting on Monday. The budget continues to build the County's reserve fund and also sets money aside for capital improvements. It does not include any allocation for restoring County employee wages, which were cut 10% the last couple of years. When the recession hit in 2008 it was obvious that County government had been living far above its means and was paying wages that were not affordable based on the weak above ground economy of Mendocino County.

AND THE LOCAL ECONOMY is still weak. The Supes have been able to rebuild the reserves, which were zero three years ago, largely by directing one-time revenue into the reserves. The Supes have determined that a healthy reserve is the best hedge against further layoffs and wage cuts the next time the economy tanks. But the workers, of course, want more money on their tables now. They just haven't identified a way to pay for it, except for the “hidden pots of gold” that SEIU claims the County has stashed away. (We're trying to identify those gold-stuffed pots and will report back when we find them.)

THE BUDGET HEARINGS are traditionally scheduled for three days, if necessary, but for the last decade or so the Supes have approved the budget on the first day. Everyone connected with County government knows the drill so it was no surprise to anyone that the budget was approved the first day. Except to the geniuses at SEIU Local 1021, based in Oakland. “Mend Mendocino,” a phony community coalition created by SEIU, planned to hold a demonstration and make public comment to the Board during budget hearings on Tuesday, which, as it turns out, is now the day after the budget hearings. SEIU planned a rally on Tuesday featuring their powerless Purple Power. The union brain trust has encouraged the rank and file to wear purple as a sign of solidarity every Tuesday. Except almost no one does. And to save everyone the trouble of putting on their purple shirts Monday and Tuesday, the brain trust decided to only show up for the budget hearings on Tuesday, which turned out to be a day late. (Note to SEIU organizers; unless you can turn out a sea of purple you just look weak and silly.)

ANNA BAKALIS, APPARENTLY HIRED BY SEIU to run Mend Mendocino said the rally and public comment would still take place on Tuesday. (Except the air has already been let out of the balloon since the budget was adopted the day before). Bakalis charged that adoption of the budget on the first day of the budget hearings was proof of the Supes “lack of transparency.” Bakalis charged that the Supes “don't want to have residents really comment on their budget or engage in a real discussion with the community.” Bakalis notes the budget hearings were scheduled to happen for three days “and were sold to the public as such.” But Occupy Mendocino showed up in force, having made the drive from Fort Bragg to arrive in time for Public Expression at 9:00 a.m. and sticking around all day to comment at the budget hearing in the afternoon. And Terry Poplawski, a local mail carrier and union stalwart showed up to advocate for a restoration of wages for County employees. But SEIU was still home ironing the wrinkles out of their purple shirts. Which is what happens when you run a union from a hundred miles away with non-locals calling the shots.

AT ONE TIME the various County departments were assigned time slots, staff ran through a detailed summary of the department budget and public comment was taken. Few had the stamina to endure the marathon presentations. But the relative merits of that system aside (and it did provide greater opportunity for an observer to get a Cliff Notes kind of overview of each department's budget, and to offer comments specific to that budget unit) it hasn't happened like that for a decade or more. Which anyone who works for Mendocino County should know. But apparently, when Ms. Bakalis rolled out her plan for a rally and public comment on Tuesday, none of the local SEIU brain trust bothered to say, “Hey, Anna, great idea for a big show of Purple Power at the Tuesday budget hearing, but the hearing starts on Monday and for the last ten years, it never goes past the first day. Maybe we should hold a rally and show up for the meeting on Tuesday.”

ALSO ON MONDAY, the Supes received a presentation on the “County Leadership Philosophy by the County Leadership Team,” which consisted of a series of speakers congratulating themselves for being such great leaders. We remain skeptical that Mendocino County government will become a “High Performance Organization” anytime soon. The Supes had an opportunity to show leadership later in the meeting when they were scheduled to discuss co-ordination of the “Board Goal Setting Workshop” scheduled for October 21. At the suggestion of Supervisor Gjerde, who originally suggested the idea, discussion was continued. To a future meeting.

A RECENT TASK FORCE rez pot raid in Covelo was described this way by a frightened witness: “They were here on Wednesday and Thursday. The Round Valley tribes have a rule where you can grow up to 25 plants per parcel, which is similar to the rule that the county established for medical marijuana. They busted into the grandmother's house this morning before she even had a chance to open the door. They are treating all the family's parcels as one parcel. Then they say that there are too many plants for that one parcel, but there are actually at least three parcels. So they're pulling up all the plants and taking them from the people who need it. They claim that they don't need search warrants because at least on person at the place is on probation. They have probation officers with them and a parole officer. And they have attorneys with them following them around. But most of the people there are not on parole or probation. The task force is just using that as an excuse to conduct this raid, to get the low-hanging fruit. Lots of the people there have taken their kids out of school because they heard about this and they are getting very scared. They arrested an older woman who takes care of her daughter's kids. There are cop cars all around there. Most of her neighbors are family members. I know that at least one of the parcels belongs to one of her cousins. I have not heard about any money being taken. I don't think any money is being taken. I don't think they have much money. You can't blame people who own property for their kids growing marijuana. Their kids have these cards and they claim they're legitimate medical growers. But the kids don't care if their parents or grandparents don't approve. They just do what they want. I've heard that the cops are going to be around for at least a week until they clean everything out, all the plants. They will not allow the tribal police to participate in the raids. There are so many people here you wouldn't believe it. There are at least four deputies, then there's CAMP, and whoever else. Convoys of cop cars. I have a marijuana garden myself. I have rheumatoid arthritis and I have to move around in a wheelchair most of the time, or a walker. I can't take these other medications. I'm very leery of taking these heavy medications because of my liver. The tribe's elders have been calling lawyers and they are aware of this. But that's not doing anybody any good right now. They're taking all the marijuana. I don't sell anything myself, I use it. As far as I know those gardens in the area of the raid are for personal use. Of course there is lots of marijuana grown around here but some of it really is medical. People are really scared. Who knows where they're going to go next? I'm very nervous. I can't move very well. My son got in trouble not long ago and they didn't give me a chance to even answer the door when they came looking for him. They just busted my door in. I'm afraid now that if they knock on the door I won't get there fast enough and they'll just bust it down. I heard that they conducted this raid because a neighbor with a grudge called them in. There is a lot of animosity between some of these families. Somebody called it in. I think they are using the marijuana as a way to settle some old grudges. I'm just worried about elderly people like me. I'm afraid they will come and kick the door in.”

THE REDDING RECORD SEARCHLIGHT reports that last week's Siskiyou county supervisor's meeting in Yreka was packed in support of Siskiyou separating itself from the rest of the state. Also in attendance was a staff member serving congressman Doug LaMalfa — who represents that district — who spoke in favor of secession. In the end, the board voted 4-1 in favor of pursuing separation.

KZYX'S SELDOM SEEN station manager, John Coate, is in Australia to attend a radio conference, and news blurb guy Paul Lambert is on vacation. Lambert's interim replacement is a fellow called Michael Kisslinger of Ukiah. Kisslinger, a dead ringer for Joe Wildman with whom he also seems to share a brain. Kisslinger has no radio experience. But Coate has previously paid Kisslinger to attend station board meetings to fend off the one person, Shiela Dawn, who asks Coate questions he'd rather not answer.

IF THE AVA were the only people saying it, we'd have to re-think our opinion, but we, like many County residents, would like to see a civilized person in charge at KZYX. We understand that pleasant, capable people are rare anymore, but a tiny outback radio station should be able to manage at least one in an up-front position. We'd also like to have real news programming, which ended when Coate, in a thuggish firing of Christina Aanestad, also ended with Aanestad. As it is, mention KZYX most places and all you get is despairing groans or, worse, “What's that?”

WE E-MAILED Coate and Mary Aigner to ask who paid for Coate's jaunt to the land down under. Mares wrote: “My but that rumor mill is creative. That's a no. I'm concerned about the AVA publishing this while John is out of town for reasons of security. John was very concerned the last time he was away to give a keynote speech and someone talked about it on the air. I ask that you please wait until he returns later this month to address this. It would be most unfortunate if someone broke into his house while he was away. Thank you.”

(ATTENTION TWEEKERS! Coate's in Australia. We don't know where he lives, but we know you have the time and, ah, the energy to find out. Go for it!)

RANDOM THOUGHTS. What's unique about Public Radio Mendocino County is how much unnecessary trouble it makes for itself, alienating possible listeners as it blunders from one self-inflicted wound to the next. All the energy that current management, and the many managements of yesteryear, put into truly nutty, fear-driven secrecy, a reasonably sophisticated management would divert into expanding the membership the way sophisticated non-profits do most places. They put an amiable, pleasant, smart person up front. That person spends a lot of time smacking up to both potential donors and the tons of service clubs — Rotary, Lions and so on, all of which now consider KZYX, if they consider it at all, as some kind of raggedy-ass hippie music station, which it only partly is. A professionally done daily news show would do wonders, but having alienated so many people, KZYX can't afford to do news. But in lieu of a real news show they could at least do a daily call in, the next best thing. Present staffers McWhat'sHisFace and Steffan ought to be able to handle something like that, as could John Sakowicz or, say, Jeff Blankfort. These guys are smart and articulate.

UH OH. Here come the PC Police wondering why there's no mention of women in KZYX's manager's chair. Nicole Sawaya, a woman, and the only truly capable manager the institution has had, was the only manager who could handle Mendo's lunatic population with aplomb. As a person of ability, Sawaya had other options and exercised them to get out. A steady interface with nuts and idiots makes for brief tenures many places, but especially here where the N&I often seem like the majority. There are lots of smart women around who could manage the place much more effectively than it's managed now, and some very smart women who could do a first-rate news show. Natch, KZYX permanently alienated one of them, KC Meadows of the Ukiah Daily Journal, who made the pot brigades unhappy one night by — gasp! — expressing her own opinion on the air. That was not “objective,” you see, as you also see the kind of cretinism one faces at the station.

BUT THE WAY KZYX has been structured — poisoned in the well by both its mercenary founder and its foundation in the one-inch-deep talent pool of Anderson Valley, and overseen by an eternally inept management (save for Ms. Sawaya) and a stooge board of cringing directors, makes a competent, civilized manager even more crucial. Won't happen, though. The third raters are firmly in the saddle. Maybe we ought to start thinking low power along the lines of KMEC.

LOW INCOME people have been evicted from the Eastridge Building (aka “Abalone Arms”) on the west side of Main Street, Point Arena. The sagging structure has been red tagged, but a red tag in Mendocino County seldom results in actual evictions. If a red tag meant evictions, several hundred more Mendolanders from Gualala to Covelo would be homeless. This red tag was serious. The residents of Abalone Arms were warned ahead of time, but the building inspectors showed up a couple days early and several tenants, suddenly without a roof over their heads, were shocked, one so severely he had to be driven to the hospital in Ukiah by the Point Arena City Clerk.

FIRST WE STEAL THEIR MINDS, then their drinking water, a press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office: “On September 3, 2013, approximately 12:20pm, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a call from the superintendent of Bridgeville Elementary School reporting a water theft. The superintendent reported that about 5am on Tuesday, September 3, 2013, a maintenance worker went to the school and noticed there was no running water. When the maintenance worker checked the onsite 20,000-gallon water tank which stores water for the school, the worker discovered there was no water in the tank, it was completely drained. The school had to be closed due to no running water. Further investigation into the incident revealed tire tracks in the field on the south side of the school. School staff believes someone climbed the fence surrounding the enclosed school grounds and took a garden hose from the school which they used to drain the water tank. It is believed the suspect(s) had a water truck or large truck and trailer with water tanks which allowed them to steal the water from the school’s water tank. Most people assume pot growers did it, but that assumption remains unconfirmed.

A COMMUNITY HARVEST DINNER AND FUNDRAISER for the Will Parrish Defense Committee, Save Our Little Lake Valley, and Little Lake Grange takes place on Saturday, Sept. 21st from 6pm to midnight at Little Lake Grange, 291 School Street in Willits. This event features a photographic display of the Little Lake wetlands before the bypass (photos by Steve Eberhard), a dinner featuring food from local farms, inspirational words (featuring Amanda “Warbler” Senseman” and Will Parrish), music and dancing (Dirt Floor Band, The Raging Grannies, and Blue Sky Pie). Dinner & Music tickets: $25. Discount tickets: $15 (if you bring a dish or just come for music & dancing). Children under 12: $10.

LARRY TUNZI, writing for the County's association of fire chiefs, has distributed a long response to the Fitch Report, an analysis of existing ambulance services around the county and the fragility of that system.

THE PROBLEM is that the County has to provide some of the Prop 172 money made available by the statewide half-cent sales tax for public safety, passed into law in the early 1990s. So far in Mendo, the money goes to law enforcement, none to other forms of public safety, specifically fire and ambulance, both included under Prop 172.

TUNZI AND THE CHIEFS want some of the Prop 172 money or, failing that, a tiny sales tax initiative specific to Mendocino County, such as the teensy library tax that now nicely subsidizes the County library.

THE SUPES could dispatch some of the Prop 172 money tomorrow to the County's volunteer emergency services and volunteer fire departments, but so far are either indifferent to the welfare of outback emergency services or somehow unaware that these services could use more money.

THE FOLLOWING PIECE by Ben Brown of the Ukiah Daily Journal of April 26th, 2008, nicely states the prob:

REPRESENTATIVES from the Mendocino County Fire and Ambulance Services expressed their appreciation to the Board of Supervisors for grant of money last year and said they hoped for a similar disbursement from the 2008 budget.

ACCORDINGLY, ambulance services in Mendocino County operate on “bare bones” budgets while responding to 7,500 calls per year. Last year, the board gave $200,000 to county ambulance services that divided the funds between Elk Ambulance Service, the Mendocino Coast Hospital, Anderson Valley Ambulance, Coast Life Support, Ukiah Ambulance Service and Laytonville Ambulance Service.

SCOTT FOSTER of Coast Life Support said his service has used the money to increase the communication capability over their service area which he said has helped with response times. Due to the rural nature of the roads on the coast and the sheer size of the area Coast Life Support covers, response times can sometimes be measured in hours. Foster said his crews often rescue patients who do not live or pay taxes in their area. “Almost 45 percent of our cases are not from our district,” he said. Last year, Foster said Coast Life Support wrote off almost $650,000 in uncollectable services.

BRUCE LONGSTREET of Anderson Valley Ambulance said the money they received was put into training and the purchase of equipment. “We're a small service covering a big area with a small population,” he said. BOB MacAdoo of Ukiah Ambulance said the money was particularly helpful to him. “It's allowed me to retain staff,” he said. “I even have a waiting list of people who want to work in Willits,” he said.

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS Chairman Jim Wattenburger said he appreciated the work that the ambulance services do in this county. He said the allocation of funds was a good short-term solution. “I've been pushing for a short-term long-term fix for three or four years,” he said.

“IT WAS WELL-DESERVED and well needed,” said Third District Supervisor John Pinches of the $200,000. “I would like to think that in a budget of $200 million budget, we can find another $200,000,” he said.

WATTENBURGER said the solution may be at the state level and encouraged First District Supervisor Michael Delbar to bring the issue up with the State Supervisors Association of which Delbar is the vice president. “It's time that rural agencies and rural counties start getting their fair share from Sacramento,” Wattenburger said.

DELBAR said he would bring the issue up with the State Association of Supervisors.

THE BOARD also heard a report from county fire chiefs who have been working for years to get funding from Proposition 172 without success. Last year, the board gave several county fire departments $300,000 in the form of worker's compensation payments but Ukiah Valley Fire District Chief Dan Grebil said Mendocino County Fire Departments still need funds from Proposition 172. “The hold-up is here with the county board,” Grebil said. Prop. 172, passed by California voters in 1993, established a half-cent sales tax. The money is divided amongst the counties and added to their general funds. Individual counties are to spend the money to support “public safety” institutions.

IN NOVEMBER of 2006, Mendocino County fire departments asked for the percentage by which the fund increases each year. Since then they have been negotiating with the board over the money.

* * *

CROSSBOW MURDER. From the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department: “On Sunday September 8, 2013 at about 12:32 PM, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center received a 911 call of a possible injured man lying on the southbound shoulder of Highway 255 and New Navy Base Road, Eureka (approximately 100 yards north of this intersection). While deputies were responding, a second person called the Sheriff’s Office to report the injured male appeared to have been shot twice with an arrow and there were two people fleeing the area on bicycles, possibly suspects or involved with this incident. One witness attempted to detain these individuals, at which point the suspects abandoned their bicycles and fled into a heavily wooded area on the west side of the road. Deputies arrived in the area around 12:39pm and located a 41 year old male victim who had suffered three injuries that would later be determined to have been from a crossbow. The victim had a grazing scalp wound, an arrow to the hip and an injury on his shin from a glancing arrow injury. The victim was transported to an area hospital where he was treated and released for his injuries. Deputies then located a second victim, found deceased, approximately 200 yards west and into the wooded area from where the first victim was located. This 44-year old male suffered a single arrow to the face (names of the victims being withheld at this point). An extensive manhunt was undertaken in the heavily wooded and coastal area for the two suspects. The motive for this incident appears to be the belief of the suspects that the victims may have stolen items from their transient camp. The victims are homeless and have been occupying an encampment for the last several months. It appears the suspects are newly arrived to the area and had a crude encampment, which a search warrant was sought for and served on.

Phoenix Triton King, white male, 21, short blond hair, blue eyes and black heavy framed glasses, 5’7” and 140 pounds from Clearlake, Lake County). King is traveling with the second suspect in this case, who is a 16 year old female, and for that reason, her name is not being released: Female, black or dark skin, 16 years of age, shoulder length “frizzy” hair that is most often worn in a bun, black hair, brown eyes, 5’0”, 120 pounds. Both were arrested Monday.

REPLYING TO DAN MINTZ'S article, “Is Garberville Going to Hell?” Ernie Branscomb provides some historical perspective: “Garberville has often been described as ‘The Town Without a Reason.’ Nobody can say what importance the town has for being here. It has, in history, often been the hangout of miscreants and ne’er-do-wells. Not much has really changed but change itself, as they say. Garberville has always been a poor-man’s boomtown. The homesteaders were the dregs of the mining industry that couldn’t make it in the goldfields, so they moved here. It was a poor place to raise cattle, but they did. It had too many predators for sheep, but they tried to raise them anyway. Redwood was the boom industry to the north, Garberville was stuck with widely scattered fir trees to harvest. Gyppo loggers were a slowly starving lot, and sawmills were notorious for going broke. One or two mills made it big, and they attracted the ‘Okies’; they were very much looked down upon, much like the trimmers today. The Okies were hard working, mostly honest people, but they would work for practically nothing. They were very much taken advantage of, much like our trimmers living on the street. The only difference with today’s ‘dregs of humanity’ is the people of today have a sense of entitlement like I’ve never seen before. If you leave it outside, it’s theirs. They will throw their garbage anywhere. If you ask them why they do that, they will tell you that ‘it helps people find work picking it up.’ If you don’t keep a very close eye on them they will steal you blind. Grocery stores feed them from their shoplifting, and they will justify stealing any of their “Necessities.” It seems that the rest of the world really does owe them a living. Anytime the rights of the few are honored over the rights of the many, the few will take advantage of it. I’m not saying that it is right, but it is what it is. This is not the first time that I have seen Garberville upset with the ‘rabble,’ just one of the many times… It seems to be Garberville’s destiny. If the loggers couldn’t run off the hippies, what the hell chance does a handful of pissed-off and disgusted merchants have running off the trimmers and bums? We are sorely out-numbered. Might as well get used to it. Put up or shut up! On the good side, some of the best people in the world live right here in SoHum. Most are my friends.”

HANK SIMS of the crucial Lost Coast Outpost writes: “The Trout Underground is a really good blog out of Siskiyou County. Tom Stienstra is an outdoor columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle who was arrested in Siskiyou County three and a half years ago, after cops found 60 plants and 11 pounds of processed weed at his home, which was in the town of Weed. The Siskiyou County DA declined to bring charges in the case. Stienstra filed a small claims lawsuit against The Trout Underground a few weeks ago, the Underground reports. Why? According to the Underground, Tom Stienstra is alleging that the Underground’s report of his arrest defames his character. Why does Stienstra bring this suit three and a half years after the fact? Why does he sue the Trout Underground when major newspapers, including the one Tom Stienstra writes for, covered substantially the same facts (though in a less lively manner)? Underground publisher Tom Chandler has a theory: ‘The real difference between the Underground’s article and the mainstream media versions mentioned above — which enjoyed much wider circulation than the Underground’s — is that mine appears on the first page of Google results for “Tom Stienstra.” The next mention of Stienstra’s arrest doesn’t appear until the bottom of page 3’.”

“WHEN IT COMES TO THE WAR IN IRAQ, the time for promises and assurances, for waiting and patience is over. Too many lives have been lost and too many billions have been spent for us to trust the President on another tried-and-failed policy, opposed by generals and experts, opposed by Democrats and Republicans, opposed by Americans and even the Iraqis themselves. It is time to change our policy. It is time to give Iraqis their country back, and it is time to refocus America's effort on the wider struggle against terror yet to be won.” — Barack Obama, Jan. 19, 2007

THE MENDOCINO COUNTY Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution calling for an amendment to the US Constitution at its August 27 meeting in Ukiah. Their resolution called for an amendment that said only human beings are endowed with Constitutional rights and that donations to political campaigns are not free speech and can be regulated. The Supervisors’ action was called for by Citizens For Measure F that county voters passed by a 74.71% to 25.29%.

THE LAST DAYS… On August 30, 2013 at approximately 2:45pm, deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office initiated a traffic stop on a silver Chevrolet Tahoe near the Redwood Oil Station in Covelo for expired plates. As the Deputy contacted the female driver, Melody Scroggins, 36, of Covelo, he noticed she exhibited symptoms of stimulant influence, leading the deputy to investigate further. Scroggins admitted to recently using methamphetamine. Scroggins' seven year-old daughter was also in the vehicle at the time. A plastic container in Scroggins' purse held four small baggies of suspected methamphetamine. Elsewhere in her vehicle a pipe used to smoke methamphetamine and a straw used to snort methamphetamine were located. Because the drugs were readily accessible to her child inside her car, Scroggins was also arrested for child endangerment. Scroggins was lodged into the Mendocino County Jail with bail set at $10,000. The child's father appeared at the scene and took custody of his daughter.

PATRICK GUZMAN, 70, of Fort Bragg, was reported missing September 3rd when his white, 1999 Cadillac Deville, was found with the engine running in a pullout off Highway One near Westport. Five days later, September 8th, Tony Reed, a reporter for the Fort Bragg Advocate-News, was looking around the area where Guzman's Deville was found when, through a telephoto lens, he spotted a handgun on the ocean bluffs and then a white shoe. Guzman's body was soon located at the foot of the bluff at the ocean's edge. His death remains under investigation.

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT announced last Wednesday it's going to charge for its on-line edition. Bad idea. The PD doesn't do anything worth paying for. The SF Chron just tried a pay-to-read scheme the Chron abandoned after a couple of weeks, and the Chron does have information worth paying for.

THE PD, believe it or not, was once a very good regional newspaper, providing real coverage of events north of Marin County. Art Volkerts was the paper's last real editor. But when the paper was sold to the NYT and simply became a cash cow for the mother ship, with a cringing crew of incompetent editors mostly installed by the Times, it was over as a Northcoast must-read.

LATELY, since its purchase by former congressman Bosco and an assortment of Democratic Party hacks, the paper has slid farther towards total irrelevance.

“I THINK we have real value in the content of this newspaper,” said Steve Falk, CEO of Sonoma Media Investments, which owns The Press Democrat. “Simultaneously, we are following our readers to digital applications as more and more people appreciate the convenience of iPhones and iPads and tablets. But at some point we have to keep the journalism healthy financially, and the way to do that is to begin putting a value on the content.”

WELL, STEVE-O, you'll soon find out the value of your content, not that you're likely to be humbled by or learn from the assessment. It's a shame, too, because like a lot of failing papers the PD has a stable of pretty good reporters who, allowed to report the Northcoast news, could do it right.

INTERESTING STATS from a piece by Tiffany Revelle in a recent Ukiah Daily Journal: CalFire Dispatch, Mendo, takes 10,000 calls a year at its office on the Willits Grade. Three operators, one of whom is always on duty, sort out 20-40 calls a day, which they re-direct to one or more of the County's 22 fire departments and five ambulance services.

CONGRESSMAN HUFFMAN is quoted in last Thursday's SF Chron saying that he wants “a fundamentally different approach” to Syria than Obama's strategically pointless bombs away approach. “So far we're basically being presented with only two choices: support immediate, unilateral action by the US without a clear sense of where it takes us and the region, or, you do nothing and be accused of acquiescing in the use of chemical weapons.”

SPIKE DIDN'T SAY what his approach would be, but the AVA fully expects him to vote Yes for whatever monstrously hair-brained scheme the White House and its military masterminds come up with.

THE ONLY TWO NorCal Democrats unequivocally opposed to an attack on Syria are Barbara Lee and John Garamendi. Lee, some of us will recall, was the only person in the entire Congress with the courage to vote no on the infamous WMD invasion of Iraq.

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION is not disputing the findings of Avalere Health's just published study that analyzed 11 states, including California, to find out how much consumers of Obama's mandatory health coverage can expect to pay for their coverage. The scheme kicks off October 1st and, by January 1st, you are either signed up with a private insurer or you're looking at painful fines.

AVALERE found that the average 21-year-old can expect to pay $270 a month, less possible discounts based on income.

A 40-YEAR-OLD will pay an average of $330 a month, a 60-year-old will pay an average of $615 a month.

WE THINK these prices the insurance combines have come up with are crazy. Most people will not be able to afford them, and we hope to see a mass opt-out movement.

ON THE OTHER HAND, a Willits reader writes: “You know, I ran into this web site, Covered CA, a State of CA website re: new ACA/Obamacare the other day, and they have this cost calculator: and if the results are anything like accurate, my god, man, it’s crazy how low my costs might be to actually have health care/insurance as a self-employed person. This is what it tells me about the two plans I am eligible for, and what my costs will be: Bronze plan: Zero monthly costs (with higher co-pays, higher deductible, and higher total maximum out of pocket cost every year, but still relatively minor: $6,350. This apparently is the plan for people (young people) who don’t anticipate getting much healthcare) or Enhanced Silver plan: $46 to $65/month (Kaiser HMO is $121, but too far for me to travel), with very low co-pays and only $2,250 maximum out of pocket cost each year, only $500 annual deductible. Now, hopefully I’ll be making a bit more $$ next year! But even so, my costs will still be low. And, according to this website, it’s not a ‘tax credit’ in the sense that I have to pay the monthly and then get a refund later, which is what I was worried about, the subsidy gets paid every month. So, again, whether the calculator is accurate or not, whether it depends on whether everybody signs up or not, I do not know, but if it’s anywhere even approaching accurate, I don’t care if it’s a Ponzi scheme, I don’t care if it’s not 'Medicare for anyone who wants it,' which is the policy I support, I say AMEN, at least on a personal level.”

THE STATE PRISON hunger strike is over. Inmates called it off Thursday after two months. More than 30,000 inmates began refusing meals in July, but that number dwindled to only those relatively few prisoners held for years in solitary confinement.

A STATEMENT by an attorney associated with the resisting inmates read: “Our goal remains: force the powers that be to end their torture policies and practices in which serious physical and psychological harm is inflicted on tens of thousands of prisoners as well as our loved ones outside.”

ASSEMBLYMAN Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, and Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, last week called for legislative hearings to address inmate complaints about conditions in maximum-security prisons.

BENJAMIN ‘GENTLE BEN’ TORANGO, 36, of Fort Bragg isn't exactly a poster boy for Governor Brown's “realignment” program by which, in theory, the less volatile felons do their time in county jails. Although Torango, a felony offender, was released Monday from the state pen, he's classified as a realignment guy, and he's about to be realigned straight back into the state system because, this morning (Friday, Sept. 6), Torango got into a loud beef in the 100 block of Laurel that he punctuated by “brandishing an edged weapon.” When the Fort Bragg police caught up with him, Torango, who is not supposed to be anywhere in Mendocino County as a condition of his parole, was so “combative that they placed him in a restraint device that binds his limbs tightly to his body.” Torango is being held in the Mendocino County Jail on suspicion of making threats to an officer, brandishing a weapon and being an ex-felon in possession of a dangerous weapon. (Glos-sary: “edged weapon” = knife. “Restraint device that binds his limbs tightly to his body” = strait jacket.)

THE STATE'S DEPARTMENT of Toxic Substances Control has announced that the abandoned Georgia-Pacific mill site at Fort Bragg is just about all cleaned up. The old mill pond and the powerhouse area remain “areas of concern.” The rest of the sprawling 420-plus seaside acres, owned by the Koch brothers, are toxics-free.

MORE RANDOM THOUGHTS: If the Hope and Change Gang had solid proof that Assad had used chemical weapons they would have brandished it the same day. Even though it looks like Congress will resoundingly vote to oppose an attack on Syria, it's obvious that the Obama Administration will proceed to inflict even more damage on Syria and create even more refugees for Syria's hard-pressed neighbors to somehow accommodate. Here at home, of course, thousands of minimum wage workers are striking WalMart and McDonald's in desperate bids for a living wage. Foreign wars are more indefensible than they've ever been given the unraveling condition of our own country.

ACCORDING to the Del Norte Triplicate, the barnacle-covered fishing boat confirmed as the first debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan to reach California's shores when it washed up at Crescent City, is returning home. Barnacle Boat is scheduled to leave from Oakland for Japan by ship on Sept. 16. Free transportation is being provided by the shipping company, Yamato Transport. The 20-foot boat washed up in Crescent City on April 7. It belongs to a high school in the city of Rikuzentakata, which was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami.

A FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT has maintained conservation protections for marbled murrelets, a coastal bird unique to the Pacific Northwest. The court rejected the remaining claims in a timber industry lawsuit that sought to expand logging of the seabird’s old-growth forest nesting habitat. The lawsuit was the timber industry’s fourth attempt in the past decade to eliminate protections for the old-growth forests that marbled murrelets call home, despite undisputed scientific evidence that murrelets are continuing to disappear from the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California.

MENDO'S Republican Central Committee, haunted by the likely prospect of Hillary as the next president, will meet Saturday, September 21, 2013, 10:00 AM - 12:00 Noon at Moura Senior Housing, 400 South Street, Fort Bragg, CA 95437. For further information contact: Stan Anderson, 707-321-2592.

STATEMENT OF THE DAY: “The lies being told by Obama and Kerry are so transparent that it makes one wonder if their strategy is to make such a poor case for war that the control Israel and the neocons have over US foreign policy will be broken. What else is one to make of such absurd statements as John Kerry’s claim that “this is our Munich moment!” There is no comparison between Assad’s defensive effort to prevent the overthrow of the Syrian government by foreign jihadists supported by Washington and Hitler’s aggressive stance toward Czechoslovakia. The Syrian government has initiated no war and has threatened no one. America as my generation knew it no longer exists. Criminals have taken over and now rule. Financial policy is in the hands of a small handful of banksters who control the US Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the financial regulatory agencies and who run the world for their own profit. Foreign policy is the preserve of the Israel Lobby and the neoconservatives, every one of which is tightly tied to Israel. Americans have no voice, and no representation. Whatever America is, the government is not influenced by the voices of the American people. Whatever America is, it most certainly is not a democracy in which government is accountable to the people. America is a country where a tiny elite has all power and does as it wishes.” (Paul Craig Roberts)

JANIE REZNER'S GUEST on Women's Voices, KZYX, September 16th, 7 pm “will be independent researcher, author, speaker and activist Genevieve Vaughan. Genevieve has been working on the theory of a maternal gift economy as an alternative to Patriarchal Capitalism.” Translation: “Girls, we're gonna talk about how we can go from a free enterprise system conducted by the Penis People to free enterprise run by women because we're smarter and nicer.” Smarter for sure, tougher no doubt. But nicer? Not always.

CONGRESSMAN JARED HUFFMAN posted the following on his congressional facebook page last Friday: “With Senator McCain's amendment yesterday, the Senate's proposed authorization for use of military force in Syria now articulates a policy of trying to help the rebels win the sectarian civil war, as opposed to just responding to/deterring chemical weapons use by Assad. This puts the US further out on an untenable, slippery slope of military involvement. I deplore the actions of the Assad regime, but this NY Times article should be mandatory reading for anyone who thinks it's a good idea to team-up with the radical jihadist rebels on the other side of this terrible conflict. Note: the article indicates the 'vetted' Free Syrian Army which Sen. McCain supports provided the weapons used in these executions.”

IMMEDIATELY comments came flooding in, most of them agreeing with Huffman. Then came a dozens of identical pro-intervention comments posted from Syria by Arab-sounding names, all of which which prompted Spike to comment again:

“FOLKS: I have been getting deluged with duplicate comments and posts from Syria, apparently from both sides in the Syrian civil war. This has forced me to temporarily disable public Face Book comments. I hope to re-enable that function soon. While I have nothing but respect and good wishes for the people of Syria who are suffering in a brutal sectarian civil war, I have no intention of getting drawn into that war — either militarily, or via social media. Thanks for understanding.”

“BUT IF THOUGHT corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” — George Orwell, 1984

IN THE FOLLOWING, Mendocino County manages to corrupt both language and thought.

THE FIRST ITEM on next Monday’s (Sep 9, 2013) Board of Supervisors agenda: “9:30am: Presentation of the County Leadership Philosophy by Representatives of the County Leadership Team.”

“SUMMARY OF REQUEST: Approximately two years ago, the County Executive Office launched a leadership development initiative that initially included County Department Heads, members of regional leadership training events, and “up and coming leaders” on the recommendation of their Department Head. Today, this group encompasses over 60 individuals, representing over 18 County departments, ranging from line staff to our CEO, to our elected officials. At its core, the purpose of the leadership development initiative is to transform our organizational culture by cultivating ‘leaders at all levels’ within the organization by engaging, developing, supporting, and utilizing our employees to their fullest potential. Today’s team presentation represents the culmination of 18 months of focused collaboration within the organization, and with our regional partners, in sharing with the Board Our Leadership Philosophy [emphasis in original]. In the coming months, the elements of our leadership philosophy will be realized through employee training and development, shared personal and professional commitments, and a pledge to embrace best practices in superior public service. We invite all members of the organization to join with us in transforming our organizational culture through active participation and engagement in upcoming initiatives.”

ONE OF THE KEY PRESENTATIONS that Mendo’s hard-hitting “leadership team” absorbed was from Steve Zuieback, a Ukiah-based one-man company he calls “Synectics LLC.” Mr. Zuieback, you might recall, prompted much unintended merriment in the galleries when the warmer, fuzzier members of the Ukiah City Council and their city manager thought Zuieback's “Process Enneagram, a Journey Map” just might steer Ukiah away from the fiscal rocks.

HERE'S Zuieback-think as presented to Mendocino County’s leaders: “Building High-Performance Organizations — The organizational change approach that forms the basis of this seminar seeks to ‘cast a net’ over what has been learned from the past 100 years [!] of academic theory and practical organizational applications and to synthesize that knowledge base into a diagnostic change model explaining why some organizations are high performers while many are not. The seminar does not [emphasis in original] attempt to ‘tell an organization what's wrong with it’ or to deliver a ‘cookbook’ of what to do to improve it. Rather, the seminar introduces a series of ‘lenses’ through which participants can view their own organizations and decide for themselves what changes may be necessary to improve their own performance.”

THE NEXT ITEM on Monday’s agenda was “Adoption of Proclamation in Recognition of September as School Attendance Awareness Month in Mendocino County …”

ALTHOUGH BOARD CHAIR DAN HAMBURG ruled John Sakowicz out of order a few weeks ago for trying to complain about a Ukiah City bureaucrat because said bureaucrat was “not within the County’s purview,” the Board can go on at length about school attendance over which it has no control... because… ?

ANSWER: “…a focus moving forward for these Mendocino County organizations will be to enhance the representation of key Public Safety agencies, such as the District Attorney’s Office, Child Protective Services, and the Probation Department, at three County School Attendance Review Board (SARB) meetings annually to show that Mendocino County is committed to keeping its children in schools to learn and prepare themselves for a productive adulthood.”

MENDOCINO COUNTY is committed to no such thing and truancy is way beyond the Board’s purview even if the truancy were a local priority.

THEN IT WAS on to pure blah-blah: “Agenda Title: Discussion and Possible Direction to Staff Regarding Coordination of the October 21, 2013, Board Goal-Setting Session … Summary of Request: At its July 16, 2013, meeting, the Board approved in concept, scheduling a Board goal-setting workshop to be held in the fall, and directed the Executive Office to work with Supervisors Gjerde and Hamburg to develop a proposed workshop framework. The general purpose of the workshop as envisioned would be to engage the Board of Supervisors in a proactive discussion of long-term fiscal forecasting, identification of methods to reduce expenditures, and identify/prioritize organization-wide initiatives to achieve the County’s fiscal and performance goals. Executive Office and Board representatives met on July 30, to share ideas and discuss the proposed workshop format including consideration of potential facilitators and an off-site location suitable for the workshop. As envisioned, a component of the workshop would also include participation by County Department Heads/representatives. Subsequent to this meeting, the date of October 21, was established as the preferred workshop date. The purpose of today’s update is to provide the Board with additional developments, and to receive Board approval to proceed with finalizing plans for coordination of an October 21, off-site facilitated workshop.”

ANY TIME you see words like envision, proactive, facilitators you know it's scam time. And “off-site facilitated workshop” means your tax dollar will rent an attractive private venue where another tax-funded passive-aggressive called a “facilitator” will smile and coo at every idiot remark made by the government people who've hired him or her.

THE MERE FACT that we live in a county where elected people can seriously consider a “Process Enneagram Journey Map” means we're being led by fuzz-brains.

BUT MURKY AS MENDO-THINK often is, the Los Angeles Unified School District has just set a new low for mindless extravagance. (And we hesitate to mention it here for fear of giving our local educrats ideas, but…)

ACCORDING TO THE LA TIMES: The Los Angeles Unified School District will “distribute Apple iPads to 650,000 students, from kindergarten on up over the next year or so. The district is paying $678 per device — higher than tablets cost in stores — with pre-loaded educational software that has been only partially developed. The tablets come with tracking software, a sturdy case and a three-year warranty. The district is using school construction bonds, approved by Los Angeles voters, which didn't mention the purchase of iPads. This factor raised questions among members of the appointed Bond Oversight Committee.”

THAT’S RIGHT. In July LA Unified’s School Board approved the spending of $1 billion of borrowed school construction bond money to give overpriced iPads (i.e., touchscreen tablet computers) to 650,000 school kids!

A TRUSTEE OF THE LA Unified School Board is a woman named Tamar Galatzan. She declared, “This is an amazing adventure we're about to embark on, so hopefully [!] we're making the right choice. Nothing is perfect, but we've made the best choice possible, based on the advice that's out there. This is the least-expensive option and, hopefully [!], we're in for a fruitful relationship.”

LET’S SET ASIDE the fact that these touchscreen computers have no real educational value despite the yahoo chorus of edu-techno idiots who say they do.

INSTEAD, LET’S LOOK ONLY at a few confirming conventional aspects of LA Unified's decision:

• The iPads are overpriced to begin with and will be doubly overpriced because they’re being paid for with borrowed money over the standard 30-year bond period.

• The iPads will be obsolete in three years but they’ll be paying for them for 30 years.

• The so-called “educational software” isn’t even developed yet, but they’re claiming it has educational value.

• The kids will be allowed to take their iPads home and used for whatever silly thing the kid wants to use it for.

• Many of the iPads will be sold by the “students” on the street for a quick buck because, according to the terms of the contract, Apple will replace 5% of iPads that are lost, broken, stolen or malfunctioning at no additional cost. “Hey Teach! Somebody stole my iPad! Get me a new one!” After that, the School District is on the hook for replacements. (Note: At a similar pilot program in the UK recently, the breakage rate alone was 50% in the first year.)

• Not to mention that an LA Unified student with an iPad is much more likely to get mugged for his iPad than his fancy sneakers.

• The iPads don’t have keyboards. Just last week, the LA Unified Board realized their “oversight” and approved the expenditure of millions more to buy keyboards for all the iPads!

• One of the claimed cost-savings for the iPad is that over time using them for e-textbooks will be cheaper than real textbooks. But, as several commentators have noted, the e-textbooks cost $15 per year per iPad (or more) whereas conventional textbooks stay in circulation for at least seven years, therefore, costly as they are, textbooks are cheaper than e-texbooks over seven years.

• According to a prior LA Times article by Steve Lopez, LA Unified “has billions of dollars in deferred maintenance, with no fewer than 35,000 unresolved calls for basic repairs and service, with broken air conditioners, leaky roofs and crumbling bleachers, among other problems.” (Much of which construction bonds are supposed to be used to replace or upgrade.)

• And finally, this paragraph in the LA Times’s lame coverage of the first Phase of the iPad giveaway program: “Students drew a bucket on their iPads with a finger, then typed in what they wanted it to contain. It's the kind of activity that could be done with paper, pencil and crayons, but the teacher was excited by the potential of the device.”

HUGO OLEA-LOPEZ, 23, of Upper Lake was found shot to death in a Spy Rock marijuana garden back on June 17th. The Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force, armed with three search warrants and accompanied by Probation and Fish and Game officers, raided the remote neighborhood northeast of Laytonville on August 29th, hoping to find evidence helpful to the ongoing investigation into Olea-Lopez's murder. The Task Force commander, Rich Russell, said the police turned out in force because the area is considered so dangerous the usual door-to-door investigative work is not safe for detectives. From one location, the raid team seized eight guns including an assault rifle, a new Subaru and $25,000 in cash.

AT ANOTHER SPYROCK POT OP, Garland M. Reid, 29, of Laytonville, and Virginia E. Keehne, 38, of Laytonville were arrested on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale and cultivating marijuana. At another, Justin W. Roberts, 37, of Laytonville, was arrested on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale, cultivating marijuana and being armed with a gun. At yet another site on Registered Guest Road off Spy Rock Road, Michael E. Griffin, 45, of Redding, was arrested on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale, cultivating marijuana and being an ex-felon with a gun. Mason D. Arnold, 37, of Phoenix, was also taken into custody on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale and cultivating marijuana.

IF YOU MISSED the point of the above, the point is that the cops consider Spy Rock so dangerous they only go there in force. Ordinarily, investigators trying to figure out a murder would simply go door-to-door by themselves.

THE NEXT DAY, pot raiders confiscated 454 marijuana plants from three different gardens north of Van Arsdale Road in Potter Valley. No one was arrested.

STATEMENT OF THE DAY: “What a sick, twisted system. 12 million people can’t find work, wages have been stagnant for over a decade, 47 million people are on food stamps, household income is down more than 8% since 2000, consumer spending is on the ropes (personal spending rose a meager 0.1% in July), the homeless shelters are bulging, the food banks are maxed out, and the unemployment rate just dropped to 7.3% because — get this — another 312,000 workers threw in the towel and gave up looking for a job altogether. Get the picture? The US economy is in the shitter! Meanwhile — while the financial system teeters and the country goes to hell — the geniuses at the Central Bank keep juicing the money supply and boinking rates to help their rich slacker friends get richer still. What a racket. (Mike Whitney)

THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS began for me Saturday noon at the foot of Market Street, San Francisco, where a very large, unhappy woman was politically guilt-tripping indifferent passersby. Anymore, unless a street person leaps for your throat you simply navigate around it, and passersby were giving her wide berth. “You people don't care, do you, that your country is going to bomb Syria? Noooooo. All you care about is shopping,” she yelled, brandishing a placard reading “US Out of the Middle East.” She may or may not have been a sanctioned hostess for the day's anti-war rally next door at Chelsea Manning Plaza, but she certainly considered herself affiliated.

UNTIL PRIVATE MANNING reassigned his gender a couple of weeks ago, Chelsea Manning Plaza used to be Justin Herman Plaza. Which is known to some of us as the site of one of the great rip-offs in San Francisco history, the Vaillancourt Fountain, a pile of Caltrans-like concrete blocks over which water is occasionally pumped. The City paid a quarter mil for the thing back when that was a lot of money. Justin Herman is rightly commemorated by this unwelcoming swathe of pavement with its rubble of a “fountain” at one end. It fits him. He's the guy who destroyed the old Fillmore neighborhood by bulldozing it and installing Geary Boulevard and Japan Town in its place, architectural atrocities where there was once a coherent neighborhood housed in aging but serviceable Victorians and world renowned jazz clubs.

OUT ON The Bay, billionaires were racing their hi-tech catamarans. These things are as far from the inspiring beauty of the white-sailed grace of traditional yachts as only a newly rich barbarian like Larry Ellison could make them, their unsightly black sails festooned with corporate logos. Communists and multi-million dollar catamarans, and where else would you find them juxtaposed on a sunny Saturday morning?

THE FOOT OF MARKET STREET is always busy on Saturdays, and this was a gloriously warm Saturday with huge crowds of dedicated consumers swarming in and around the Ferry Building, opposite which the usual crazy guy was beating his drums for world peace while a half-dozen feminist-proof, half-clad young women passed out advertisements for the Sonoma Raceway.

SAFELY past the anti-capitalist harridan, us peaceniks were greeted by amplified rap music about offing mofo's and related mayhem booming from the speaker's platform. There are idiot white leftists who think gangsta rap — recruiting music for the state prison system — is an emblem of their multi-cult coolness.

THE PLAZA was so warm that many of the assembled, most of whom were well into their golden years, moved into the shade of the Hyatt Regency. I plunked myself next to a Socialist Workers table demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage. Bless all these people for their faith, but it will take a real movement with real force before working people in this country are going to get a break.

THE ANTI-WAR FORCES gathered in Chelsea Manning Square were maybe a thousand strong, few of them young although the kid sitting next to me was certainly not yet twenty-five. He looked like a college football player — big, strong, cleanly turned out. “Are you here to beat back the beast?” I asked him. “Excuse me, sir?” Resubmitting my question, I asked him if he was here for the rally. “No, I'm waiting for my girl friend. She's across the street. This stuff is pretty interesting, though,” he said, gesturing at the crowd, just as a guy who looked like a rainbow sno cone walked by. The young man looked down at his handheld electronic device, silently informing me he'd had enough conversation with Grandpap. I guess to a kid it all might be interesting. To me it was kind of depressing, a tepid, auto-repeat of demos going back to the first one I ever helped swell the crowd for, and that would have been in 1961, and not too far up Market Street from where I was sitting. It was at the Palace Hotel back when it still seemed possible to make things better. Fifty-plus years later, the various socialist groups were leafletting each other because we were the only people there. Which is not the fault of the organizers. They try, but they were talking to themselves.

JUST THEN Juanita Neilands appeared. Juanita is the widow of the quietly inspiring Joe Neilands; as a couple, the Neilands have been on all the correct enemies lists all the way back to loyalty oaths, which Joe, as a professor at UC Berkeley, stoutly refused to sign. Then Reagan had Joe right at the top of the list of UC professors who ought to be fired, then the PUC numbered him as one of the main guys in the way of privatizing PG&E. If Juanita wore a pedometer it would have hundreds of peace miles on it by now.

THE SPEECHES weren't bad, actually, short and straight to the anti-imperialist point. The looming attack on Syria is crazier than anything the Bush regime pulled with consequences that could be even more catastrophic than Bush's murderous blunders. By Tuesday, though, Obama was backing off. Nobody wants another war in the Middle East except Israel and Israel's gofers in our government. One speaker reminded everyone about a demonstration this week at Feinstein's office downtown. “How about a demo at her house?” I wondered. “Take it right to the front doors of these bastards.” Which is where it went Sunday morning when I trucked up the Lyon Street Stairs past Dianne's fortified gates where a small group of protesters, including a skilled pair of trumpeters, were camped out.

THE CHOIR having been preached to, we all shuffled up Market Street to the open air thieves market where the grand esplanade to City Hall begins. Beyond, closer to City Hall, a cannabis event was under way. Three fat, tourist-looking guys chortled as they chanted “More War” at us, but except for them people on the sidewalks were friendly.

MARCHERS included the 12 Galaxies Guy, Mr. Chu, a fixture at public events who deals in conspiracies with roots far beyond our obscure universe and intelligible only to him. Saturday, he was off-message with a placard reading “Cosmic Squid.” Gloria La Riva leafletted sidewalk people the whole way up Market, dashing out from among the marchers to hand the most unlikely anti-imperialists the anti-imperialist message.

I CAUGHT THE NUMBER 5 FULTON back to the fog belt and on into Teng Long for a plate of curry beef, thinking that, despite the sparsely attended demo I'd just participated in, there are a lot more of us now, especially in Frisco, than there were that wayback day at the Palace Hotel, but the other side still has all the money, all the guns, all the new technology, but their economy is eating itself and, hopefully, them with it.

ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY from the SF Chron. First a disclaimer. Nothing against The City's firemen, but when you see them driving to Safeway in hook and ladder trucks you know you're in a very badly managed town, although hook and ladder shopping trips have been explained as necessary to save firemen time in case they're needed while they're perusing the meat counter. They wouldn't have to run all the way back to the firehouse to slide down the pole, you see. Anyway, the comment: “Not only has the SFFD treated the taxpayers in an abusive manner for years, these non-SF slugs are racists too after a century of inbred hiring practices. During their last contract tizzy they set fires to outhouses on Russian Hill to save the station on Stockton St from closure, car fires near the Fell Street station and more car fires in the outer Richmond District by that station, all to generate calls and save those $100-$200k 3.5-days-a-week jobs. Immediately after they got their way the fires stopped. And you blamed the homeless for those fires, or was it the SFFD who pointed that finger? Not to mention a century of taking cash payouts to move fire hydrants for construction projects whilst keeping the city from those deserved proceeds while the fire boys bought gifts with the money and paid for parties for their welfare like abusers of the taxpayers of San Francisco. Oh, and they drive to Costco everyday and buy a quarter bag of groceries because their ‘contract’ allows them to pay for their own chow, but it costs the taxpayers thousands of dollars extra because they go on the clock everyday at full pay instead of in one van buying a week’s worth of food like every other honest agency.”

A READER WRITES: “We went to SF yesterday afternoon and had a nice lunch by the pond at the Palace of Fine Arts, then attended an art exhibit opening at Fort Mason. The weather was absolutely glorious, one of the loveliest weather days I've ever experienced in the City. We drove along the waterfront from the Marina to the Embarcadero toward the Bay Bridge. I know you have some familial connection to this, but, frankly, long sections of the waterfront looked like a giant Oracle self-promotional orgy. You'd think Ellison now owns all rights to the America’s Cup. A bit over the top. Then we drove across the Bay Bridge to Oaktown. The new eastern span isn't very inspiring, in my view. One small, single tower with a few dozen angled cable stays followed by a couple miles of flat, dull roadway on piers. Think: the Dumbarton Bridge with artsy light fixtures and you have the picture. Several years and more than $6 billion for this? Now KCBS radio news is reporting that the Democratic Machine and its acolytes in Sacramento are trying to ramrod a resolution through the Assembly and Senate calling for the new span to be named in honor of… Willie Brown! Are you kidding me? The Slick Willie Span? Of course, there's a small problem: state statutes prohibit naming municipal structures and highways, etc., after persons who are still alive. ‘No problemo,’ sayeth the pols, we're all members of The Club up here. We can bend the rules a little. I guess there could be some poetic irony to it. Like Willie, the span is overpriced, overbudget, overhyped, overexposed, and over polluted waters. Bansai!

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