LONG TIME County CEO Al Beltrami has died at age 79. Sheriff Tom Allman posted this statement last Sunday: “Today, 11/23/13, a legend in Mendocino County passed away. His name was Al Beltrami. He had that magic ability to make local government work better. He was a long term CAO (Chief Administrative Officer) with Mendocino County, and he was also an interim CEO for the County. He worked with Governors and federally elected officials to make things better. May Al Rest In Peace and may his legacy forever be remembered as a person who understood the need for our leaders to work with each other instead of fighting each other. Thank you Al for what you have done to make Mendocino County a better place to live, work and raise families.”
WE'VE POSTED the obligatory county press release “honoring” Beltrami with its usual rote “will be missed” (Hamburg), and “he will be greatly missed.” (CEO Angelo). Hamburg served as a supervisor for one-term while Beltrami was CAO back in the 1970s. He is sure to be missed by family and friends, but he had zero effect on the muddling ways of local government. Always a firm ally of the County's more retro political and social forces, Beltrami, an ordinary go-with-the-flow public bureaucrat, retired in 1989. It was no surprise that he then became point man for the Ukiah-based Private Industry Council, a collection of rightwing blowhards committed solely to adding to their little outback fortunes with the County’s half-assed help. The County's pro forma “honor” bestowed posthumously on Beltrami is fact free. The closest it gets to a fact was this sentence: “Mr. Beltrami returned as interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) from 2006-2007 to manage a challenging transition in county government.” The only thing “challenging” about that period was that the Board of Supes went through four interim CEOs (including Beltrami) after the undistinguished CEO Jim Andersen quit Mendo to take a much higher paying Assistant CEO job in Sonoma County. Beltrami was one of the four, all grossly overpaid, all pretty much clock punchers, and all presiding over the County's ill-managed, bloated pre-crash bureaucracy, which has now been slashed by almost a third. (Funny that County residents haven't noticed that local government is a lot smaller.) The only accomplishment Beltrami could claim partial credit for while Interim CEO was figuring out how to get that big Supervisors pay raise that grasping former supervisors Smith and Colfax spent so much public time agitating for. (Beltrami rigged the advisory Supes pay panel so it wasn't covered by the Brown Act, and packed it with people certain to approve it.) Besides Hamburg, not one current senior staffer or board member had any experience with Beltrami during his long tenure as County CAO from 1964 to 1989, although they all jump on board the “honor” train. But we suppose crocodile tears are mandatory in the context, and we're all giants in Lilliput.
CHRIS ROBERTS writing in the SF Weekly: “A few years ago, we ran into trouble with Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman (who is the only man we've ever seen enjoying a music festival — at Wavy Gravy's Hog Farm, no less — with a pistol clipped to his belt). Allman, who achieved fame — and then infamy, with the United States Justice Department — for charging growers to license their marijuana plants with zip-ties, was quoted in an SF Weekly story as saying that the only two industries in Mendocino County are “government and weed.” The sheriff denied ever saying such a thing. But evidently, the statement is a true fact — according to another police officer, over half of Mendocino County's jobs stem from the “less-than-legal” cannabis industry. That revelation comes courtesy of Rich Russell, who heads up the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force…”
TO A COP, everyone's a crook or a latent crook, which is a fairly safe generalization about our fine, fat conniving population, but who can even begin to put any kind of number on any part of the pot biz in Mendocino County? Allman's remark, if he made it, seems about right, especially if government includes all the people drawing Social Security and other forms of government benefits. There are certainly lots of Mendo people in the pot business, and there are certainly lots of people in government including school employment. No denying that. But half in the dope biz? Sounds high. (sic)
HERE’S WHAT’S ACTUALLY GOING ON. The Federal Reserve can only pretend to have any option besides force-feeding “money” into Wall Street as if it were a Strasbourg Goose with Crohn’s disease. What passes through the goose is a vile toxic substance called malinvestment, which turns the energies of society into activities that produce nothing of value, like hedge fund employee bonuses, NSA operations, Tesla car promotion, Frank Gehry condo towers, drone strikes against Afghani wedding parties, Obama photo ops, inflated auction prices of oil paintings, and Barney’s new Jay-Z holiday fashion collection. (— James Kunstler)
JIM TAT KONG and Cindy Bao Feng Chen were found dead in the van they apparently drove up here from the Bay Area. They and their van were found near the old bark dump gate off Highway 20 near Fort Bragg back on October 17th. They had been shot in the head. There may be an organized crime component, Asian Division, but so far all the Mendo Sheriff's Department will say is “The case is progressing well, but at this time we cannot release any further information so as to not jeopardize ongoing investigations.” Investigations. Plural. Which seems to mean, if we're reading the tea leaves correctly, federal agencies are also involved.
SOMEONE, OR SEVERAL SOMEONES, has stolen Mendocino County's premier piece of public art, the oft vandalized, 12-foot Potter Valley cowboy wood sculpture. Skillfully rendered by Noel Hale, an artist and retired mathematician who carved the statue in 1988 to memorialize a well-known Potter Valley cowboy. The cowboy had been placed at the rodeo grounds where vandals shot it and decapitated Cowboy. Hale had it moved to his home in central PV where it blew over in Potter's recent big winds, and someone carted it off.
CHEAP SHOT FROM SEIU in a recent leaflet featuring unflattering photos of County CEO Carmel Angelo and her assistant, Kyle Knopp, both of whom are large, very large. It's like some overpaid someone at SEIU read a Cliff Notes version of Alinsky's “Rules for Radicals” and several generations later, all the new generation of so-called labor organizers can remember is that they are supposed to pick a target and demonize them, but without knowing how that fits into a larger strategy. By attacking Angelo, who has the solid support of the Board, they are reinforcing the existing united front between the Board and County Admin. SEIU hasn't defined victory, but based on their childish tactics (more like antics) the masterminds running the SEIU think they are 'winning' in Mendo, although SEIU was in a position to declare victory with a rollback on the health insurance increase and a cash payment just before Christmas, but has chosen instead to deliver a lump of coal to its members this holiday season. “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” — Sun Tzu
MARINELA MICLEA posted the following comment on the Mendocino Listserve: “Title: Is there a local mafia in Mendo/FB? — I guess I've been clueless so far, but it's beginning to dawn on me that the lack of discussion of local issues on the Mendo listserv, local newspapers, or local radio stations must be due to a pervasive fear of potential consequences — losing one's job? Or getting hassled by police or DA? I'm picking up little hints of trouble here or there, but nothing substantial is being discussed openly. Is it time to call in the FBI? The dearth of local issues being discussed is what concerns me. Hearing that a local reporter is too scared to name names when he experiences “automotive troubles.” Being warned privately against giving details when I experienced a trespassing issue. Hearing of a Mendo landlord refusing to renew the lease of a popular restaurant, thus forcing its closure, only to turn around and give that lease to a different restaurateur with no explanation. Asking whether there's a high turn-over rate at a local restaurant only to be accused of disparaging it. Being threatened privately that I don't know who I'm dealing with because that person claims to be the DA's best friend. Reminds me of the pervasive fear of being overheard saying anything that might sound negative in the communist country of my childhood — blech! Personally, I don't have huge issues right now. I've a job that pays the bills and allows me to spread some $$ around at local restaurants, stores, and charities. I like most of my neighbors and people I've met in the community. My kids go to local schools and participate in local events, and I'm glad to see them flourishing in this community. But every now and then I get a niggling suspicion that not all's well around here. I've never been a fan of mafia movies/books — just don't see the fascination of watching/reading gangsters getting all warm and fuzzy with their families/opera only to turn around and kill whenever the urge strikes. I'm also not a pothead (never used it, just don't see the point) though I'm OK with you/others doing it (just not at my place). Re. “backcountry paupers” — not all around here are poor, as I'm sure you're aware. How do places like MacCallum House Inn stay in business? Its income doesn't derive solely from tourists even though its prices are so high (I ate there a while back — $100+ tab just for an adult and 2 kids). — Marinela (no Dragon Lady — maybe just the canary in the mine?)
THIS LADY puts her finger right on it, the fear prevalent in the County, maybe everywhere. But the irony here in “liberal” Mendocino County is that The Fear occurs in a Mitty-ish political context, by which I mean the large number of our fellow citizens who view themselves, as lots of them say forthrightly, “highly” nay perfectly “evolved human beings.” And speakers-of-truth-to-power and so on. The reality is a whole lotta back stabbing, blackballing, secret slander and so on, no different, liberal pretense aside, from a small town in Kansas. Marinela The No Dragon Lady's “niggling feeling” that everything isn't all that it's self-advertised to be here on the Left Coast is more than a niggling feeling; it's the truth.
TOM CAHILL WRITES: “On the morning of November 22, 1963, I was a 26-year-old reporter/photographer with “Texas Co-Op Power” magazine in Austin. I was excitedly gathering up my huge Speed Graphic camera and gear and making plans to photograph Pres. and Mrs. Kennedy at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Austin that evening. I had a White House press pass and a friend of then Vice-Pres. Lyndon Johnson was going to set-up a photo-op for me. Needless-to-say the Kennedys never made it to Austin that night and what happened to the President changed the course of world history and definitely changed my life as is it did many others globally. All these years later, like many people, I am still traumatized by The Assassination. For one thing, the accused killer of JFK was close to my age, and like me was a military veteran, a husband, and a father of a little girl. My own daughter is now 53 and I have two great-grandchildren. Back in 1963, I also owned a weapon exactly like Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly used to kill the President. It was a Manlicher-Carcano carbine (NOT a rifle) that I knew early on could NOT possibly have been used to kill Pres. Kennedy. It was manufactured in Italy and known to be the worst small arm used by any of the combatants in WW II. Italian soldiers called it the “humanitarian weapon” because it rarely hit the target and sometimes even blew up in the face of the shooter. Later revelations about this CARBINE give evidence to support my theory. As if this isn't damaging enough to the Warren Commission, Oswald was known to be a poor shot while in the Marine Corps. Once he even got “Maggie's Drawers,” a red flag on the firing range indicating a complete miss of the target. And there is other evidence he was not a sharpshooter as was necessary to hit a moving target—with a carbine—and at long range. Prerequisites for a district attorney to charge a person with a crime are motive, means, and opportunity. Lee Harvey Oswald had not one of these. Researchers have found only a statement of admiration for JFK by Oswald. His carbine was not the murder weapon. And within minutes of the shooting, Oswald was found by a Dallas policeman on the first floor of the Book Depository. Thus a forever young, United States Marine Corps veteran has lain in his grave a half century falsely accused of regicide that to this day affects most people all over the world. And political and economic events since The Assassination prove the accuracy of former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura's observation not long ago, “Anyone who could kill a President, could get away with anything.” Attached is a long essay-in-progress about the man who had the most to gain if Pres. Kennedy was killed and the most to lose if JFK lived. Tom Cahill, Landsthul, Germany
AT THE RISK of entering the swamp of Assassination arcana, my old friend Mr. Cahill is incorrect in some particulars and, in my opinion, also incorrect in the conclusions he draws, i.e., Oswald did it, and he did it alone. I was in the Marines at the same time and the same place as Oswald, circa '57-58. (Different regiments, though. No, I did not know him.) We received the same training in the M-1 carbine. I'd never fired a gun before Marine Corps boot camp, and I managed to qualify with a score of 201, meaning basic rifleman, also meaning I was a good shot with that gun, able to hit the bull dead in his eye at 500 yards from the prone position, and often dead in his eye shooting from lesser distances in the standing and sitting positions. If you didn't shoot better than a 195 out of 300 — I think that was the score you needed to qualify — you were “set back” in training until you mastered the weapon to Marine standards. More than anything I wanted to get my 17-year-old self out of boot camp which, in those days was 15 weeks of beatings, sanctioned and non-sanctioned late night fist fighting, and many creative varieties of mental and physical abuse. (The boot camp depicted in Full Metal Jacket would have been a relative walk in the park compared to the boot camps of the 1950s.) Oswald did better than me at the rifle range, and I did well enough to qualify to Marine Corps standards. Oswald was the next rung up which, as I recall, was Sharpshooter. Which means he came to be a pretty good shot. We didn't have scopes. You can hardly miss with a scope on any kind of gun even at great distances. Kennedy's limo was moving at less than 20 miles per hour. Oswald was shooting from less than 200 feet above the limo with a clear line of fire. And he was firing at the president with a scoped rifle. In training at a place called Camp Matthews, now some kind of ghastly LA town not far from LaJolla, we all, even the best shots, who were mostly Southern country boys who grew up with guns, got our share of misses called “Maggie's Drawers.” When you missed the target the guy in the butts — the trench beneath the targets — waved a flag, Maggie's Drawers, which I vaguely recall as white, not red, to show you, the shooter, that you'd missed. I got lots of Maggies. We all did as we fired practice rounds and adjusted the windage and sighted our M-1s. Before we even live-fired we endured a week of “snapping in,” practicing all the shooting positions, from sitting to standing to prone. If the Marines could make a pretty good shot out of me, I know they made an even better shot out of Oswald. I'll concede this, though: He was obviously a very strange dude, very strange. Given the era, late 1950s, even communists had no desire to go to Russia, and for a kid Marine it was simply unthinkable, so far out of any known range of possibilities that I'd suppose Oswald, a kind of proto-intellectual in his way, had to have been recruited, encouraged and sponsored by larger forces. I'll bet a lot of the still unreleased docs on the case will reveal that Lee Harvey was, as he said, some kind of patsy in a great big international chess game played by the intelligence agencies of several countries, but basically a CIA guy. We know for a fact, however, that he was not involved in the collapse of Building 7.
ON NOV 22 1963, writes Mel Pinsler of Burlingame, I was a news writer/reporter for an East Bay television station. That particular day I was at the Albany police station along with many other newsmen covering the story of the disappearance of a UC Berkeley coed. While I was interviewing the lead detective on the case outside the station another reporter stuck his head out the back door and yelled, “Hey, Kennedy's been shot.” I quickly ended the interview and hurried back to the TV station and began organizing our coverage of that event (the wire reports were coming rapidly). I tried to think of who was in San Francisco for good comments. I found out Henry Cabot Lodge, our ambassador to Viet Nam, was in town, and told my cameraman to camp on his doorstep and not to leave without getting something from him. Lodge said the usual, “We've lost a great leader” things, then added, “If you turn your cameras off, I'll tell you some real things.” He made the cameramen turn their cameras around and did indeed relate things not for airing. One thing he said was, “No one knew more about Viet Nam than John Kennedy.” This convinced me that Kennedy would have pulled us out of Vietnam during his second term. That night on my way home, I went to North Beach to see the effect of the day’s event. The sight was unimaginable. Broadway was completely dark, and I mean dark. Not a neon sign was glowing, every gin joint and topless place was locked. No cars on the street, no people on the sidewalks, except one small group of hardcore fun seekers going from one locked door to another, only there was no fun to be found, not there, not on that day. Camelot was over.
NOVEMBER 25TH, 1963, SF Chronicle quoting Detective B.H. Combest: “I was standing at a corner of a ramp as they led Lee Oswald out of the building and then I saw Jack Ruby, and I knew what he was going to do... I tried to reach him but couldn't get to him. He rushed right up to Oswald and put the gun flat against his chest. And I saw the flash of fire. I think Ruby did what he was planning on doing all this time since the president was killed. He didn't say anything as he was being carried out — I think he already accomplished his purpose. One of his employees had called me earlier and told me Ruby felt a sense of shame for Dallas. A lot of us knew him because of the business he was in — running a strip joint. I helped carry Oswald to the jail basement office. Someone said, 'What do you want to do with him?' And I heard someone answer, 'Well, let's get him out of here fast.' I think the city jail physician said the bullet went in at a slant but did not come out the other side — that it entered his left side and you could feel it under the skin on the opposite side. I think the gun was a .38 caliber blue-steel snub-nose. Ruby pushed it right up against him. Oswald had a powder burn about as big as a fist on his sweater.”
BRUCE McEWEN from Friday's County Courthouse: The courts are frozen in fear, unable to proceed with mental cases; and what they fear is Ortner, the new for-profit mental services contractor. For the past several weeks, “It’s been a nightmare,” to use a descriptive phrase oft-repeated by officers of the court. One judge who recently ordered a defendant to North Valley Hospital was told, “North Valley is no longer accepting mental patients with criminal issues.” How’s that for flat finality, your honor. The judge ordered Deputy County Counsel Doug Lozak to go to Mr. Pinizzotto and inform him “the buck stops with you.” There was some frantic scrambling around and the forlorn mental patient was returned to the jail. The attorney for this patient/defendant was Jessica Hoagland of the Office of the Public Defender, and when asked for a comment she said she had better first ask her boss, Public Defender Linda Thompson, who just happened to be passing by. Ms. Hoagland hailed PD Thompson and asked if she could give a comment. The answer was: “Better not. We don’t dare make things worse.” I asked a deputy from the DA’s Office, Beth Norman, who has some experience with handling the press on sensitive matters and she said, “These orders are prepared by PD Linda Thompson, and they’re pretty straightforward. Yet, every time we have a problem getting someone placed.” She went on to say that it was bad before, and something needed to be done, but it has gotten much worse. “I don’t know what they [Ortner] are doing outside of the courts, but what I’ve seen just around here is cause for worry. We have these criminal defendants who don’t understand the proceedings, so something needs to be done and nothing is getting done.” Judge John Behnke was passing by and I offered a penny for his thoughts. “I really shouldn’t,” he replied. “We're going to all sit down and work this out. It’s not as bad as Obamacare,” he joked, referring to the difficulties they were having getting the new system implemented. “I can’t talk about individual cases, obviously, and I don’t want to cause more problems by saying anything until after we can have a meeting.” When is the meeting? “It hasn’t been scheduled yet.”
BRICE LEE MCKINNON, 22, of Willits belongs in a mental hospital, but there aren't mental hospitals so the ordinarily proportionate and humane judge, Ann Moorman, packed this kid, an apparent pyromaniac, off to the state pen for six years and eight months. Although he had a juvenile history setting arson fires, McKinnon somehow got on as a volunteer with the Willits-Little Lake Fire Department under whose auspices he set more fires. It's unlikely that this guy, a married man with children, will get the kind of therapeutic treatment he needs in the overwhelmed state prison system; he'd be better off at home under probationary supervision while helping to support his family and getting a psychological remake.
INSPIRED by the Humboldt Glossary recently published on Lost Coast Outpost, we've come up with a Mendo glossary. Some of the terms, of course, are common to Humboldt and Mendocino counties and are drug related. Contributions welcome:
Hell’s Alley: Coast Highway One from Elk to Mendocino
Elk: Mendocino lite
HumCo: Humboldt County
SoCo: Sonoma County
Booze boutique: Tasting room
Ropehead: Dreadlocked hair
Jive juice: Wine
Power cow: Large, unpleasant female
Hill Muffin: Wealthy hill dweller; also Hill Muff
Low Gap Hilton: Mendo County Jail
Catch and Release: Ten Mile Court, Fort Bragg
Reggae rats: Little kids at reggae concerts
Pissdrizzle: Fog; also drizzlepiss
Fog Eaters: Residents of Point Arena
Cork sniffer: Wine drinker
Diesel dope: Marijuana grown indoors
Gro ho: Woman employed at pot grow
Puppy dragger: Homeless person with dog
Ropeheaded puppy dragger: Dreadlocked transient with dog
K-feeb: Radio station KZYX
Hipneck: Child of a marriage between hippie and redneck
Clippie: Hippie with a clipboard, as in signature gatherers outside Ukiah Co-op
Mendopia: Mendocino County
Skunk Town: Willits
Trustafarian: Resident living off inherited money
Ripper: Home invader
Eysterize: Fines and misdemeanors for dope arrests rather than felonies and the state pen; policy of current Mendo DA David Eyster. E.g., “Dude! I just got eysterized. Cost me $40k.”
Green Curtain: Mendo-Sonoma County line, north of which everything becomes very strange and stays that way until Ashland, Oregon.
Hamburgian: Entitled pot smoker
REPORT FROM THE FIELD: Aurora, Colorado (famous for movie theater massacre), Friday Nov 22 — Running a series of errands on Denver's east side, I ran into a monster traffic jam on I-225. It was bottlenecked because the cops had three exits to main arteries blocked. A police helicopter was flying around overhead and flashing police cruisers were everywhere. Later on I found the story on local TV news. A police officer had shot a shoplifter who was sitting in his car. Maybe there was a chase, I'm not sure. How trigger-happy are the cops getting, anyway? I remember being hungry and stealing food from the Big G market in Sausalito. I got caught once and the store manager threatened to ban me from the store if it happened again. I turned over the package of shrimp he saw me take, and got out with the steak he didn't know about it. Our mighty Editor has quipped that if you know a republican who's ever missed a meal, let him know. There have been no responses to this. Anyway, I think the store manager's reaction to a shoplifter (me) was reasonable. A police officer using deadly force in a similar situation is beyond merely unreasonable. How bad is it going to get? (— Jeff Costello)
MAYBE MY FATHER was not meant to be a beekeeper. Maybe he wasn't calm enough to be a father. Maybe the bees knew he was still fighting and thinking about the time when he was a boy and nobody liked him except for his mother. Maybe they could feel anger in the air from the time when Ireland was still under the British, or when Ireland was free but could remember nothing but being under the British. Maybe they could smell things like helpless anger, because they kept trying to kill him. — Hugo Hamilton
GIVEN THE ECO-SENSITIVE times, it's peculiar that the County's Health and Human Services Agency, where roughly two-thirds of the County's employees work, has decided to resuscitate an ancient but ignored County policy prohibiting employees from riding bicycles to meetings. A hardy and healthy minority of County workers ride bikes to work or have otherwise liberated themselves from the tyranny of the automobile, and regularly ride their bikes to department meetings.
BUT FOR SOME STRANGE REASON, only HHSA employees got the No Bikes memo (below). Employees are expected to either drive their personal cars to meetings or get in line to use a County pool car. But there are only one or two pool cars at the facility and they are usually reserved. Staff spotted riding bikes to meetings are reported and officially chastised. (A bike narc in County government?) Morale is already extremely low among County employees, and now this wackily oppressive edict?
TEN YEARS AGO when HHSA was a progressive, community health oriented department, its leadership and advisory board would have advocated for bikes, not written up bike-riding employees. One can only hope a policy revision will be considered. The County could have its bike riders sign away County liability. But imposing and enforcing No Bikes is against national Public Health priorities for promoting clean air and walk-able / bike-able communities. It's also against the County's 2009 General Plan:
*Policy DE-161: The County will demonstrate leadership in the implementation of programs encouraging the use of alternative modes of transportation by its employees, as well as the use of alternative fuels. Example programs may include:
• Preferential carpool parking and other ridesharing incentives;
• Flexible working hours or telecommuting where consistent with job duties and customer service needs;
• A purchasing program that favors hybrid, electric, or other energy-efficient vehicles;
• Properly matching trips to the most efficient vehicle to minimize fuel expenditures;
•* Encouraging pedestrian/bicycle trips between County facilities where distances and physical ability permit; *
• Assisting in the development of demonstration projects for alternative fuel technologies such as ethanol, hydrogen, and electricity;
• Secure bicycle parking; and Transit incentives
MENDOCINO COUNTY HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY MEMO. Staff Resources Bulletin # 13-08. To All HHSA staff
Re: Bicycle Usage For Official County Business
This memo is to remind all HHSA staff that riding a bicycle for official County business is prohibited. This includes going from one office location to another for meetings, trainings, etc.
Mendocino County Policy #18 – Travel and Meal Policy, states in part “Employees may use, as an option, their personal vehicle for travel on official County business providing they meet the following requirements:
1.6.1 A personal vehicle is defined as an auto, truck or van. Motorcycles, mopeds, scooters, bicycles, or similar vehicles may not be used to conduct county business.
1.6.2 Vehicles shall be adequately insured (see policy for liability amount).
1.6.3 The vehicle shall be in sound mechanical condition adequate for providing required transportation in a safe manner.
1.6.4 The vehicle shall be equipped with, and each occupant shall be required to use, seat belts.
1.6.5 The cost of damage and/or wear and tear to a privately owned vehicle used on County business is the responsibility of the owner of the vehicle.
1.6.6 Employees not in compliance with these minimum standards shall not be authorized to drive their personal vehicle on County business.
Therefore, an employee shall use a County vehicle for official County business if he/she rode a bike, motorcycle, moped, scooter, or similar vehicle to work.
It has also been brought to management’s attention that some HHSA staff have been parking his/her bicycle inside the building hallway(s) and/or office space during official work hours. A bike stored in hallways and or office spaces could fall or be knocked down, creating a restriction/blockage to a required “EXIT PATHWAY” and is a violation of the Fire Code Sec. 1003.
Bicycles should be locked in a rack that is provided by the County outside of the County building(s). If a bike rack is needed, a work order should be submitted to acquire one for employees in a secure location. To locate a bike rack near you and/or to order one, please contact your building coordinator. While HHSA promotes and encourages good health and exercise for our employees, we also have the responsibility to ensure staff is safe and follow County policy.
THE COSTCO FINAL EIR (Environmental Impact Report) will be heard by the City of Ukiah Planning Commission on November 21, at 6:00 p.m. in the City Council chambers. In honor of the occasion, a new group calling itself “Ukiah Citizens for Responsible Planning” has surfaced, complete with a website at www.ukiahcrp.org The website proclaims “Help Us Keep Ukiah Beautiful, Clean And Safe, Through Responsible Planning!” What the unnamed sponsors don't seem to realize is that the battle to keep Ukiah beautiful, clean and safe was fought and lost deep in the last century, starting with the founding of Masonite in the early 50s, and continuing right on through to the present time with the proliferation of ugly strip malls and trailer parks lining State Street from one end to the other.
THE UKIAH CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBLE PLANNING website poses the following questions: “Is Airport Park a responsible place for more big-box development? Will 10,000 or more car trips per day have a negative impact on residents in our community? Should residents of the city pay for the road improvements that will be needed to accommodate national big box stores coming to Ukiah? These are the questions that must be answered before the City of Ukiah approves the Costco application, or any other big box store along Airport Park Boulevard.”
UKIAH CRP also sent out a flyer headlined “Ukiah Taxpayers Shouldn't Pay for More Traffic — If Costco Wants to do Business in Ukiah, Then They Should Pay Their Own Way.” … “The City of Ukiah needs to be responsible when it comes to planning issues and taxpayer dollars. Our elected officials have shown they are willing to mortgage away our city's future just to make Costco happy. The $4.6 million loan that city officials proposed to pay for the Costco road improvements will cost taxpayers much more over the life of the loan when you factor in the interest. The EIR prepared for this project told us that Airport Park is not the place for Costco or any other Big Box store. Our elected officials know this, yet they are still considering moving forward and committing the city to millions in taxpayer funded road improvements to sweeten the deal for Costco. Join us at the November 21st Planning Commission meeting and send a message to our elected officials that as taxpayers, we shouldn't pay for the privilege to sit in traffic so Costco can make a few bucks.”
THE COSTCO BIG BOX also includes plans for 16 gas pumps (with a planned expansion to 20) and is projected to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual sales tax revenue for the City of Ukiah. Which is why the Planning Commission, and the pseudo-lib City Council, will engage in ritual hand wringing over the need to support local business just before they vote approval for the Costco megastore. The City of Ukiah is running annual deficits of a million dollars a year because the City lacks leadership and the City Council lacks the will to bring expenditures in line with revenue. Which could easily be accomplished by off-loading a few of the expensive administrators that were formerly paid for by milking the redevelopment agency cash cow. Costco will go a long way towards closing the City of Ukiah's budget gap. Which is why there is zero chance that Costco won't be approved and zero chance that the city won't soak the taxpayers for the $4 million plus that it will cost to build the road improvements that Costco wants.
UKIAH CRP (who are now saying the barren commercial wasteland of Airport Park Boulevard is not suitable for any big box development) are probably the same people who said that Masonite was not suitable for retail development and that we first needed to build out Airport Park Boulevard. Mendocino County is heavily populated by people who came here from somewhere else and now want to prevent anyone else from moving in or making any changes. We don't disagree with anything they say about the supine City Council or the avaricious Costco, but unless all these people are ready to move back to New York City or Cleveland, they should probably tone it down a little. (And if New York is so superior to California, why did they come here in the first place?) So, if you want to see the City of Ukiah Planning Commission vote slam dunk approval for the Costco giveaway, be sure & show up November 21.
ON THE LABOR FRONT, Mendocino County went to mediation with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021 last Thursday. SEIU is local in name only since all the decisions are made by the SEIU shotcallers in Oakland. The local members can't even hire their so-called local business agent, who is picked by the Oakland honchos, with the predicable result that the SEIU “'strategy,” such as it is, is tone deaf to local political and community realities. That’s why SEIU called for a major rally on the second day of budget hearings when anyone who pays attention knows the budget is always adopted on the first day. The second day is scheduled as a backup, just in case it is needed, but no one from SEIU seemed to know that. And just last month, SEIU called for a rally against the proposed increase in health insurance premiums, urging everyone to show up at the Supes chambers in Ukiah on a day when the Supes were scheduled to meet in Mendocino to consider the Mendocino Town Plan. That’s what happens when you let a bunch of outsiders call the shots.
HEADING INTO LAST THURSDAY’S MEDIATION, SEIU chose to make the proposed increase to the healthcare premiums the centerpiece of their current labor struggle with the Board of Supes. Mediation was scheduled for two days, but at the end of the first day the mediator realized that agreement was not possible and canceled the second day. The Supes had previously scheduled a special meeting for Monday of this week, with the only item on the agenda being “Closed Session — Labor Negotiations.” The meeting was planned so that in case agreement was reached in mediation, the Supes could vote to approve it, and SEIU could then take it to their members for a vote. But the special meeting was canceled when mediation failed to produce an agreement. Sources within SEIU and the County say agreement was almost in reach when SEIU chose to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. (More later.)
WHEN THE HEALTHCARE INSURANCE INCREASE was first proposed, SEIU claimed it would cost its members “hundreds of dollars a month” — meaning that SEIU confused the effect of a modest increase in health insurance costs with a similar percentage cut in wages. A 5% cut in wages for an SEIU member making $50,000 a year would mean a loss of a couple of hundred dollars a month. But the county says the comparatively minor increase in health plan costs (75% of which are paid for by the county) will only cost the employees a couple of dollars per pay period x 26 pay periods, proving once again that the SEIU financial IQ is in the single digits. But SEIU, based on the false premise that the health plan increase was a major hit to their members bottom line, chose to make it a major issue.
TUESDAY OF LAST WEEK the Supes were scheduled to vote on the health insurance increase. The staff presentation stated that the average annual increase in costs over the last 10 years was 9%, with double digit increases in most years. On average, rates have held steady the last three years, but double digit increases are forecast for the next three years. (So much for any thought that Obamacare will reduce health insurance costs.) Half a dozen SEIU members, including several of the alleged leaders, showed up to speak to the issue. Their comments consisted mostly of reading statements from other SEIU members describing the hardship that the minor increase in health insurance costs would inflict on them.
THE SUPES VOTED UNANIMOUSLY to approve a 3% increase in health insurance rates to take effect January 1, 2014. In approving the 3% increase, a couple of the Supes expressed the hope that the big swings in rate increases from previous years could be avoided. But health insurance costs will continue to escalate as long as the insurance companies remain in the driver's seat, which they certainly are under the present system. After the vote, the SEIU contingent, including the paid rep dispatched from Oakland, all filed out of the room, even though the First Quarter Budget Report was also on the agenda. But SEIU has never shown much interest in the nuts and bolts of the budget, choosing instead to focus their guns on the minor increase in health insurance costs.
THE HEALTHCARE PREMIUM INCREASE was a timed item for the morning, but SEIU called a rally to take place at noon — after the Supes had already voted for the increase. Timing a rally for the lunch hour makes sense, but if SEIU really wanted to show a united front, they would have taken an hour of “LWOP” (leave without pay, not Life Without Parole) and packed the Board chambers. But the SEIU leadership is so unsure of their ability to rally the members that a catered taco truck has become a fixture at their rallies. Even with the lure of free tacos, a scant couple of dozen SEIU members (including the leaders) bothered to show up for the rally, which is not exactly a show of strength going into mediation.
SEIU SWIFTLY ISSUED A FLYER after the rally headlined “Keeping the Pressure On!” proclaiming “Our ongoing fight to hold CEO Angelo and the Board of Supervisors accountable continued Tuesday, as they voted to increase our healthcare premiums by 3%. We spoke against the increase at the Board meeting and were joined by community leaders, in support of our fight for a fair contract. We are fighting back against these unreasonable and unfounded healthcare increases since this issue should have been brought up at the bargaining table. We also begin mediation Thursday with the hope the BOS will show leadership and do the right thing. No matter the result, the fight for our wages, families and community will not end with this contract. We hope that County administrators do the right thing this week during mediation. It's not too late!”
COMMUNITY LEADERS? The small contingent of SEIU members present for the rally might have been joined by a couple of family members looking for free tacos, but SEIU has failed miserably in its efforts to rally public support to their side. Low and moderate wage private sector workers without benefits are unlikely to get excited about a 3% premium increase for a gold plated health insurance plan that is 75% funded by the employer, that includes vision, dental and prescription drug coverage.
DURING MEDIATION it can be assumed that both sides engaged in the usual posturing and bickering. But somehow, the mediator managed to get the two sides to discuss the possibilities of what an agreement might look like. Piecing together accounts from different sources, it appears the County offered to drop the already approved increase in health insurance premiums and pay a one time lump sum of up to a $1,000 to each SEIU member. The proposed deal, as we understand it, would have allowed SEIU to claim total victory on the healthcare premium increase and deliver a one time cash payment to all their members just in time for Christmas. From the county side, it would have given something to the employees, but without permanently increasing the wage base, which the Supes are reluctant to do until county revenues begin to pick up.
ACCORDING TO SOURCES WITHIN SEIU, when the mediator presented the county offer, it set off heated debate among the union negotiating team, with at least a couple of the bargaining team members wanting to accept the deal. But the hardliners (who probably realized the healthcare premium increase is not such a big deal) prevailed and the offer was rejected. Rumor has it that the SEIU bargaining team also refused to put the proposed deal to a vote of their membership. So instead of claiming victory for stopping the healthcare premium increase, and getting a Christmas bonus for their members (or even letting the membership decide), SEIU has opted to continue the ongoing slo-mo train wreck otherwise known as labor negotiations.
THE LA TIMES reported Wednesday that Discovery Church pastor Caleb Kaltenbach recently came across the Bibles with “Fiction” written on the price tag while shopping at a Costco store in Simi Valley. He took a photo and posted it on social media with the comment: “Costco has Bibles for sale under the genre of FICTION Hmmmm...” Costco has since apologized, saying in a statement a distributor mislabeled a small percentage of Bibles before they were sent to the store. The company said it is correcting the mistake for future distribution.
MENDO'S PRESIDING JUDGE, David Nelson, has announced the judicial assignments for 2014. Got yer pencil and paper? Be reminded that we have more judges per capita than any other county in the state, each of them compensated at rates Napoleon's tribunes would envy. Their task is to process the lower third of County income earners in and out of local and state prisons. Are they fair? Henderson has a tendency to lunge at defendants, and Brennan is either mentally challenged or under the influence (or both), but the rest of our over-large judicial posse seem to at least try to do the right thing in a context of intensifying national class war. Their job, boiled down, is to defend present social-economic arrangements.
JUDGES Ann Moorman and John Behnke will handle criminal trial matters. Judge David Riemenschneider will continue to handle family law matters including divorces and child custody disputes in Dept. C. Former Presiding Judge Richard Henderson will move to Dept. E where he will preside over the civil department and hear unlimited civil lawsuits, probate matters and conservatorships. Judge Cindee Mayfield will move to Dept. F and preside over the juvenile division, hearing delinquency and dependency cases, including the Family Dependency Drug Court. Judge Jeanine Nadel will remain in Dept. G, hearing traffic and civil limited cases, including small claims and unlawful detainers. She will also handle a portion of the unlimited civil cases. Judge David Nelson will move to Dept. H to hear the master criminal calendar, where all criminal cases start before being referred to the two trial departments in A and B. He will also preside over the Adult Drug Court. Judge Clay Brennan will continue to manage the Ten Mile Court in Fort Bragg and its criminal, traffic, civil, juvenile and family law cases. Judge Nelson announced that the Executive Committee which manages the court will be comprised of himself, Assistant Presiding Judge Behnke and Judge Moorman. All assignments last two years.
THE DOW JONES industrial average closed above 16,000 for the first time last Thursday, rising 109.17 points to finish at 16,009.99, up 22.18% on the year. Reading around, there are experts who say the four-year ups are over and the market is about to go into free fall. There are others who think it's more evidence of an unending bull market. We think the whole Ponzi is clearly being kept artificially alive by so-called “quantitative easing,” the creation of billions of dollars handed to the biggest financial players to keep trillions in bad paper from being recognized as valueless.
MRS. SELBORNE. When Mrs. Selborne first came to Dixieland from the hot South she was only 23 but she looked older. Ripeness with her was all: she was a tall heavy-bodied blonde, well-kept and elegant. She moved leisurely with a luxurious sensual swing of the body: her smile was tender and full of vague allurement, her voice gentle; her sudden laughter, bubbling out of midnight secrecy, was rich and full. She was one of several handsome and bacchic daughters of a depleted South Carolinian of good family: she had married at 16 a red heavy man who came and went from incomparable table, eating rapidly and heartily, muttering, when pressed, a few shy-sullen words, and departing to the closed leather-and-horse smell of his little office in the livery stable he owned. She had two children by him, both girls: she moved with wasted stealth around all the quiet slander of a South Carolina mill town, committing adultery carefully with a mill owner, a banker, and a lumber man, walking circumspectly with her tender blonde smile by day past all the sly smiles of town and trade, knowing that the earth was mined below her feet, and that her name, with clerk and merchant, was a sign for secret laughter. The natives, the men in particular, treated her with even more elaborate respect than a woman is usually given in a Southern town, but their eyes, behind the courteous unctions of their masks, were shiny with invitation. — Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward Angel
THE INDEFATIGABLE LAUREL KRAUSE, Fort Bragg's most active activist, was on her way south down Highway One, headed for SF International and Geneva, Switzerland, where the UN's Human Right's Committee would be taking up the Kent State Massacre of 1970 in which Laurel's sister Allison was shot and killed. The UN was taking up the Kent State murders on the 17th and 18th of October, and there Laurel was three days prior, six thousand dollars in plane tickets and hotel rooms in her purse, at the Albion Bridge construction snafu, stuck in a long line of traffic. Checking her handheld gizmo for the latest info, Laurel learned the conference had been put over until March of 2014 when she will again set forth again for Geneva and, hopefully, a measure of justice for her murdered sister.
THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION has resoundingly turned down a request to soften its position on legalizing marijuana. The California delegation had proposed amending AMA national drug control policy to reflect a “neutral stance toward cannabis legalization,” but the AMA House of Delegates voted to not adopt the amendment. The delegation from California also proposed that the AMA advocate for the “sale of cannabis to be regulated on a state-based level.” This proposal was also defeated. After the voting had concluded, Richard Thorp, MD, chair of the California delegation, told MedPage Today that the science on cannabis doesn't exist because it can't be studied as a Schedule 1 drug — the same classification as heroin. “We [California Medical Association] would at least like to see it changed to a Schedule 2 drug so we could study the drug and approach the topic scientifically,” Thorp said. He found little support among the crowd. “It would be very inconsistent for the AMA to say cannabis is a dangerous drug and then suggest we don't care if it's legalized or not,” said Michael Greene, MD, an alternate delegate from Georgia. Greene was referring to existing policy that states, “AMA believes cannabis is a dangerous drug and as such is a public health concern.”
THE AMA did adopt several provisions in its policy on marijuana that emphasize the use of public health-based strategies, including that AMA: • Discourage cannabis use, especially by persons vulnerable to the drug's effects and in high-risk situations • Support the determination of the consequences of long-term cannabis use through concentrated research, especially among youth and adolescents • Support the modification of state and federal laws to emphasize public health-based strategies to address and reduce cannabis use. The AMA also adopted a provision that urges the federal government and the nation to “acknowledge” that the current war on drugs has “been ineffective” and to expand the availability to treatment programs for substance use disorders and reduce their costs.
AN AVA-DERIVED story appeared in Friday's Huffington Post with the mighty Boonville weekly duly credited. The Huff's piece by writer David Lohr is called “Donald Cavanaugh and David Niely: Two Missing Men, Two Unsolved Mysteries.” The two old guys were clearly disappeared by James ‘Jimmy’ Denoyer, formerly of Westport, presently of Lake County. Like many Mendo-based “mysteries,” the only mystery in this one is Where Did Denoyer Hide the Bodies? (Rather than re-hash the entire depressing saga, you can Google the title and read it on HuffingtonPost.com)
JUST IN FROM Willits, Gateway to the Redwood Empire: The LoBuck$ Market at the always struggling Evergreen Shopping Center will close at the end of the year. LoBuck$ Willits belongs to a small chain of stores that has now declared bankruptcy. The cleanup of the long-abandoned Remco industrial site in the center of town is now in its final stages.
SPORTS NOTE. Steve Young was wondering out loud last week about Colin Kaepernick, the 49er quarterback whose laggard play recently has all Niner fans worried. “Is it just the offensive coordinator’s play calling?” All-Star Young said on KNBR's Sports Talk show. “We don’t have any threats on the perimeter? Is that the issue? Is that the real issue? Or is it now, fundamentally, Trent Dilfer was onto something last week saying about, ‘No, it’s Colin.’ And, really, Colin comes off of fakes and they’ve got some neat little things … and people are wide open on the first look. And now they’re not open. Now the second look is not something that he’s really great at. Is that, fundamentally, the issue? You wonder which one’s really causing the problem. Because (there) is a problem right now. In Washington, we better start seeing it or the alarm bells will go ring even louder. If it is fundamental to the quarterback spot? My gosh. Now, that’s a whole other can of worms that I don’t want to think about. Because if it’s just play-calling, and we need some receivers back, and, you know, we need, philosophically and tactically, we need to get more excited, and expansive and wider, and fuller, and riskier. If that’s all it is, then fine. But if it’s something fundamental to the position, to the guy, that’s a whole other can of worms that I don’t think anyone wants to talk about right now…” Kaep put an excellent game together against Washington Monday night, a game preceded by a wildly hypocritical “tribute” to four Navajo Code Talkers, veterans of World War Two. Pressured for years to drop the insulting “Redskins” from Washington Redskins, the changeover hasn't quite taken hold.
WHY IS THIS HED funny? (From Friday's Ukiah Daily Journal): “Ukiah driver suspected of tossing drugs from car.” In fact, the cops saw her toss the dope — crank, natch — and arrested her, and it's funny because versions of this episode are so common in the County they're hardly worth mentioning, let alone mentioning beneath a headline. The following is the police account of what happened, and what happened is repeated somewhere in Mendocino County every day.
ON NOVEMBER 21st in the early morning hours a Ukiah Police Officer was handling a disturbance call at a hotel, and noticed a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot. The vehicle appeared to be running and was backed in, and there were two occupants in the vehicle. The officer noticed the vehicle again at about 12:15am near Washington and South Dora Street, and saw the vehicle fail to stop completely at the intersection, and that the vehicle as weaving. The officer attempted to stop the vehicle near the Observatory Avenue intersection, and the vehicle sped away northbound on South Dora Street, refusing to yield to the officer’s lights and siren. The officer pursued the vehicle as it reached speeds of over 60 miles per hour and failed to stop for stop signs. The vehicle turned right onto Grove Avenue then left and headed north on Oak Street to Low Gap Road. The vehicle pursuit continued east to State Street, and proceeded north with the vehicle reaching speeds of 80 miles per hour. As the pursuit reached the Orr Springs Road intersection the vehicle attempted to turn left onto Orr Springs Road and lost control, and spun around one and half times coming to rest in the roadway facing south and approaching pursuing patrol vehicles. Pursuing officers saw the driver was a woman, who regained control of the vehicle and proceeded west on Orr Springs Road at a high rate of speed. Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies had joined the pursuit, which continued on Orr Springs Road for close to 30 minutes. Officers from the California Highway Patrol also became involved with the pursuit, which had traversed onto Low Gap Road and was headed east and back towards Ukiah. After over 50 total minutes the suspect vehicle became disabled and stopped on Low Gap Road, several miles from Ukiah. The driver, 29 year old Bobbi Lee Maki, was taken into custody without incident. Maki was seen throughout the pursuit reaching into different areas of the vehicle’s passenger area, and repeatedly throwing suspected drugs out the window. Officers found approximately 1 pound of marijuana inside the vehicle, several grams of methamphetamine, a methamphetamine smoking pipe, and powdered methamphetamine all over the driver’s door panel and window sill where Maki had been discarding the drug through the window. Maki had been drinking and was driving with a suspended driver’s license, and had a warrant for her arrest for violating Post Community Release Supervision. Maki was booked into the County Jail for transportation of methamphetamine and marijuana, possessing drug paraphernalia, DUI, vehicular evasion, driving with a suspended driver’s license, violating probation, and the warrant. (Ukiah Police Department Press Release)