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Mendocino County Today: September 11, 2013

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 one 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. 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 cop cars all around there. 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 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 2009 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 9am 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(s) 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 Dan Gjerde, who originally suggested the idea, discussion was continued. To a future meeting.



Your call urgently needed: We have four days to stop a bill that could frack California SB 4, an already weak fracking bill, was amended Friday to exempt fracking from California's most important environmental law: the California Environmental Quality Act. We only have four days to kill this bill—call your Assembly member today and tell him to vote 'NO' on SB 4. On Friday, dangerous, last-minute amendments were attached to Senator Fran Pavley's fracking bill, SB 4. With these added amendments, the last fracking bill left standing in the California Legislature just got a whole lot worse. Shockingly, the amendments give state regulators authority to exempt fracking from California's strongest and most important environmental law: the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Even before it was amended on Friday, SB 4 was a dangerously weak bill. It allows the fracking industry to keep secret the volumes and concentrations of the dangerous chemicals it injects underground by designating them "trade secrets." That means Californians won't know whether the industry is trucking teaspoons or tons of toxic chemicals through our communities. The new amendments could even block Governor Brown's authority to ban fracking in California should he determine fracking is unsafe and want to take executive action to protect our citizens and our water. Please call Wes Chesbro today! 916-319-2002. (— Ed Oberweiser, Fort Bragg)



by Dan Bacher

Re “Wait to debate water bond, and then improve it” (Sacramento Bee Editorials, Sept. 5): The “habitat restoration” proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan is designed to “green wash” the construction of the peripheral tunnels. In reality, there is no “conservation” in the BDCP. The purpose of the $54.1 billion plan, masquerading under the "coequal goals" of water supply reliability and ecosystem restoration, is to facilitate the export of more water to corporate agribusiness and oil companies seeking to expand fracking operations. In July, scientists from the federal lead agencies for the BDCP Environmental Impact Report — the US Bureau of Reclamation, US Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service — exposed the terminally flawed science it is based upon in 44 pages of comments. They criticized the draft documents for being biased, insufficient, confusing, and very subjective. The tunnel plan is based on the false premise that you can restore a river system by stealing more water from it.

Dan Bacher, Sacramento



JANIE REZNER'S GUEST on Women's Voices, KZYX, September 16th, 7pm “will be independant 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.

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