NO SOONER did we say we hadn’t heard any local reports of local “black ice” vehicle accidents from the recent freezing weather than we were told of three on Saturday morning. Two incidents occurred locally in the Deepend — a car simply skidded off the road and into a ditch with no injury early Saturday morning. Another, about 15 minutes later, skidded into a tree. Also no injury. And earlier that night a local tow-truck driver said that a sports car driver up on 253 somehow skidded into the car in front of him, creating a fender-bender, also no injury. Advice from Anderson Valley Fire Chief Andres Avila: If it’s cold and you see black ice, or even if you’re not sure about the road condition: slow down.
IF THE ER DOCTOR was Marvin Trotter, we vote to acquit. The Ukiah Police Department says Daniel Ricky Escamilla, 24, 6'3" and “about 300 pounds” was arrested Friday for “breaking into the Ukiah Valley Medical Center and biting an Emergency Room doctor.” It was about 9am when Escamilla, dressed as a woman, shattered a glass door, busting on into the hospital where he demanded pain meds. He chased a nurse around the room “before picking up a computer monitor and throwing it at the doctor. He then jumped over the reception desk and picked up a small Christmas tree, which he also threw at the doctor,” before biting the doc and a nurse. Escamilla was finally subdued with the help of Sheriff's deputies.
WE’RE WONDERING if the County's freshly privatized mental health apparatus took this guy on as one of their emergency patients. Doubt it. I'll bet Escamilla will remain at the County Jail while the helping professionals think of reasons for not taking him on.
WALKING AROUND with $18,000 in your backpack? A youngish man was arrested the other night in Arcata with marketable bud and $18 grand in his backpack, one more story that will act as a Get Rich Quick magnet to every struggling person who reads or hears about it.
WE’VE RECEIVED and published a number of complaints about problems associated with the County's recently privatized mental health system, a bonanza give away of a public function that positively reeks of insider trading. We’ve also received a few complaints about the complaints that the complainers don’t know what they’re complaining about, or don’t understand the system, etc. Unnamed county staffers wrote a flat denial about a month ago, but without addressing specifics.
SOMEONE(S) calling him/herself “County Health and Human Services” wrote: “It is both unfortunate and frustrating that reports continue to circulate in the local media of allegations of poor mental health services, particularly on the coast, with some critics claiming that mental health services have been eliminated.”
NO ONE claimed any such thing.
It continued, “The following list of mental health services currently provided in coastal Mendocino County has been compiled in an effort to set the record straight. Services are provided by the County, RQMC, OMG and various sub-contractors, some of whom have been providing similar services for years. It is especially unfortunate that some individuals choose to discuss knowledge of very particular cases, something that providers can not respond to out of courtesy to the families involved and due to strict confidentiality laws and HIPAA requirements. No story is one-dimensional. Often there are many, many facets to consider. Certainly they are not to be played out in the pages of any local media outlet. To do so is to risk victimizing the patient, their family and friends. It also undermines the efforts of many very dedicated public servants and private providers. Reports are often not accurate, not fully told and serve to do more harm than good.”
TRANSLATION: Stop complaining. We’re wonderful. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Poor us because our “professional ethics” prevent us from discussing specific cases. And, in true passive aggressive style, “complaining in the media (i.e., the AVA the only place the complaints have appeared), “risks victimizing the patient, their family and friends.” And, “undermines the efforts of many very dedicated public servants and private providers.”
THANK YOU, NURSE RATCHED.
CRITICS may indeed not be aware of the “many, many facets to consider.” But the people running the County’s mental health system probably don’t either. To simply dismiss complaints as “often not accurate,” or “not fully told” is a lazy way to avoid dealing honestly with the difficulties.
ALL OF WHICH is to repeat that the Board of Supervisors and County management are failing miserably in not requiring regular departmental management reports — especially from Mental Health, which is more important as the County transitions to private, for-profit mental health services. At present, the only reports the County gets from the departments are reports the departments prepare about themselves when they feel like it (which isn't often). Obviously, few County bureaucracies, if any, are going to report anything that might make them look bad or to more difficult questions. What the Board and County management need are reports that require the departments to provide useful information they might not provide on their own, such as, in the case of mental health, client counts by category and location, numbers of calls by category and location, number of minutes billed and by whom for what, expenses to date, number of closed cases, summaries of reports by family members on how successful the intervention was, number of calls not serviced or responded to and why. Billings to date. Etc. As it is, the only reports on Mental Health and the privatization status are the ones selectively prepared by self-interested people like the self-serving snivelers who wrote the press release telling the complainers to shut up. Without useful management reporting all we’re left with is occasional complaints and anecdotes. Tens of millions of dollars (and maybe more under Obamacare) of public money is being spent on private mental health services. The public has a right to know what they're getting for the money. Speaking only for your beloved community newspaper, we'd be quite wary of getting much compassion, let alone practical help, from people capable of weasel-lipped press release claims that they're doing a swell job.
SOMEBODY TOOK A BLUE PEN to the initial draft of the County’s proposed “Right To Industry” ordinance we reported on a few weeks ago. The changes are good. It's no longer simply a “shut up about it” ordinance. The changes make it clear that the “shut up” provision only applies to manufacturing operations that pre-exist its neighbors and that are being operated properly and within the law. The original 300-foot notification/applicability zone has been retained, not enlarged. And the question about whether renters need to be included in the notification has been resolved: No, renters need not be notified. But to pretend that it will somehow attract industry to Mendocino County remains a complete and utter fantasy almost as delusional as the notion that biz was deterred from coming here because of bellyaching neighbors.
THE ONLY APPLICANT for the at-large “timber representative” slot on the County’s Planning Commission to replace long-serving Karen Calvert is Roger Krueger. Krueger is described as “Mendocino Redwood Company real estate consultant” in a September 2011 on-line lawsuit involving a dispute between MRC and a neighbor. Krueger was also described by Malcolm Macdonald last April as “another holdover from the Louisiana-Pacific team, still employed by Mendocino Redwood Company.” The guy will clearly be MRC’s man on the Planning Commission, and he’ll probably have to recuse himself from a lot of forestry-related votes. The appointment will be considered by the Board of Supervisors on December 10. We never saw any notice of Calvert’s retirement or of the vacancy with invitations for applicants, although just a few days ago, on November 27, it did appear toward the bottom of the list of board and commission vacancies, a list which very few people know about, know how to find, or keep track of. It’s unfortunate there aren’t more applicants — it seems like they’re trying to rush the appointment for no apparent reason.
MENDOCINO COUNTY’S INVESTMENT POOL includes corporate bonds for some major Big Bad Boys that many local liberals probably disapprove of (and they don’t pay much interest either):
CORRECTION: In my piece about JFK I wrote that Jill Abramson is the managing editor of the NY Times. She is the executive editor. And I'm pretty sure it was Rap Brown, not Stokely, who said “Violence is as American as cherry pie.” — Fred Gardner
PROCLAMATION PROPOSED for the December 10, 2013 Board of Supervisors meeting.
“Proclamation Of The Mendocino County Board Of Supervisors Recognizing Colin Wilson For Dedicated Service To Public Safety In The Anderson Valley And Throughout Mendocino County.
Whereas Colin Wilson’s commitment to the Anderson Valley Fire Department began on July 1, 1997, when his tenure as Chief commenced; and
Whereas Colin Wilson has served Anderson Valley for the past 16 years with professionalism and dedication to the Anderson Valley Fire Department and the residents it serves; and
Whereas through careful planning, Colin Wilson secured the purchase of four new fire engines for the department and has been instrumental in the construction of four fire stations within the district, including stations in Boonville, Philo, Rancho Navarro, and Holmes Ranch; and
Whereas Colin Wilson has demonstrated his commitment to public safety beyond Anderson Valley by serving as president of the Mendocino County Fire Chiefs’ Association, as chair of the Fire Prevention Committee of the County Chiefs’ Association, and as president of the Fire Safe Council of Mendocino County, an organization which he co-founded; and
Whereas Colin Wilson is characterized by his colleagues as “just a great guy,” as someone who “has a great sense of humor,” as “an invaluable asset to community,” as a man who “established meaningful relationships with partner agencies,” and as “one of those guys who simply can’t be replaced”; and
Whereas upon his retirement from the role of Chief, Colin Wilson is looking forward to enjoying a new role within the Anderson Valley Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter and a new role outside of the Department as an ambulance staffer.
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved that the Board of Supervisors hereby recognizes Colin Wilson upon his retirement as the Anderson Valley Fire Department Chief for his dedicated years of service and commitment to public safety in Anderson Valley and throughout Mendocino County.”
GOURMET BOOT LEATHER
by Brook Smalle
Folks outside Mendopia are suspicious of charities. They do their homework. They stand up. Not people here. We lick boot leather. Yum!
Like that holiest of sacred cows, the Mendocino Art Center. By its charter, a membership organization. Registered with the State of California. With articles of incorporation. Bylaws. And membership voting. But not here. Or that prestigious entity, the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation — another membership organization. With two sets of rules. One for the people who elect themselves to run it. And one for everyone else. Keeping two sets of books. Didn’t you know?
Okay. Let’s start with something basic. Like birds. Seabirds. There’s a charity for that too. It’s called Pacific Seabird Group. Run by a guy named Doug Forsell. A retired Fish and Wildlife Service guy. With a working FWS email address. Uh-huh.
Forsell’s charity is delinquent. Kaput. Been that way for years. But there’s another Pacific Seabird Group. And it’s no charity. It’s active too. Who runs it? Doug Forsell does. The Fish and Wildlife Service dude! Like I said. Basic.
Like everyone, Doug wants his piece of the American dream. Everything’s in place. FWS creds. A Jekyll-and-Hyde business model. On a spiffy lookin’ website (www.pacificseabirdgroup.org). All he needs now is a bagman. Someone to handle the money. Someone respectable. Like another birdman. Enter Ron LeValley. He and Doug go way back. And Ron’s GREAT with money. Voila! Ron becomes Forsell’s banker.
Doug and Ron need somebody to squeeze. Someone rich. Like the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Remember them? They funded a whaling expedition off Fort Bragg back in 2009. Landed a 70-foot blue whale too. A real keeper. But there was a teensy-weensy problem. It seems the Packard Whaling Expedition had taken their trophy out of season. Oops! So it was Doug and Ron to the rescue. For a price.
After dismembering the corpse, LeValley buried it in a secret location. That operation was funded by a second Jekyll-and-Hyde business complex, Mad River Biologists and another delinquent charity, MRB Research. Both run by LeValley. Thanks to Forsell, FWS was none the wiser. In 2010, Packard cut a check for $50 grand and sent it to Doug Forsell’s charity, care of Ron LeValley. But that particular donation never found its way into either of those defunct charities. Poof!
Everything was hunky-dory for a while. Until a heroin addict named Roland Raymond implicated LeValley in a six-figure embezzlement from the Yurok Tribe. The Yurok didn’t much like Mendopian boot cuisine, so Ron went and got himself arrested. But the bootlicking wasn’t over yet. That’s when Doug and Ron’s PR firm went into high gear. Our award-winning weekly newspaper, the Mendocino Beacon and its publisher, Sharon DiMauro. Instead of running the news of Ron’s arrest, DiMauro ran a public service announcement to raise money for him instead. Where? At bootlicking central. Caspar, California.
Caspafarians are invertebrates flush with cash, all of whom seem to disappear every year around harvest time. Everyone around here knows that when you want to spend money, Mendocino’s the place to go. To raise it, just go to Caspar. The Caspafari never ask questions. Never. They always produce cash. And I mean always.
LeValley raised enough money there to hire a lawyer and keep himself out of the local papers. For a while anyway. Until a handful of locals started asking questions. The Mother Lode of answers came from the California State Department of Justice. With something unknown to the Caspafari: The Internet.
When local troublemakers started shooting their mouths off about Forsell and LeValley on the local List Serve, DiMauro sent the Editor of our award-winning weekly newspaper, Kate Lee to the rescue. “Do your homework,” Lee commanded. Some readers did. According to Google, DiMauro somehow missed the front-page news of LeValley’s initial arrest in the dailies. But she didn’t miss a thing on the local List Serve.
That’s when the Unclean took it up a notch. Google “ripoff” and “Pacific Seabird Group” when you get a chance. Then try “Mad River Biologists.” And “Mendocino Beacon.” Next “Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation.” Finally “Mendocino Art Center.” What you’ll find are lots of local news stories that DiMauro missed. All of them are about dead or dying Mendopian charities. About those who profit by killing them. And their bootlicking accomplices.
The Caspafarians are unfazed. Every fundraiser starts with a lecture. Right? Doug Forsell is scheduled to give one there on January 20. That’s the day before LeValley has been ordered to appear in Federal Court on a plea deal over his role in the Yurok Embezzlement Scandal. Forsell’s appearance is hosted by the Mendocino Coast Audubon Society. Look for it in the Mendocino Beacon.
Gourmet boot leather will be served. Yum!
THERE’S STILL PLENTY OF MONEY OUT THERE. Yesterday the Yankees signed center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a $153 million contract. And here in Connecticut, the ‘board of regents,’ a gaggle of political hacks, scumbags, minority grievance mongers, and candidate fundraisers overseeing the state college system, just got 6% raises on top of their $450,000 per year salaries for their do-nothing, no-show jobs. They meet a few times a year, don’t do sh-t, don’t teach any classes … every time they meet tuition at State U goes up a little bit. I don’t know, maybe all this swag is imaginary, a result of $85 million per month QE. You all talk about the 1%. I think there’s a different, more important dynamic: you’re either an insider or an outsider. The insiders are the politicos, local, state and federal, and all the parasites grafted to them, including the public sector unions. That’s where the big money is, the lavish benefits, the generous pensions. The outsiders are everybody else struggling in the collapsed and dystopic cities and towns, nevertheless having the life sucked out of them to pay for the insiders. That about sizes it up. — James Kunstler
GEN. COLIN POWELL CALLS FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE IN THE US
by Valerie Bauman
Former Secretary of State and longtime Republican Colin Powell is calling for a universal health care solution in the US.
“We are a wealthy enough country with the capacity to make sure that every one of our fellow citizens has access to quality health care,” he said Thursday at a Seattle fundraiser for prostate cancer. “(Let’s show) the rest of the world what our democratic system is all about and how we take care of all of our citizens.”
The retired four-star general, a prostate cancer survivor, spoke at the Prostate Cancer Survivors Celebration Breakfast, organized by UW Medicine and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Powell took the opportunity to share some of his own experiences and to publicly call for a healthcare solution similar to those in Canada, Japan and other countries that have a universal, single-payer system.
In the case of his own cancer diagnosis, he recovered, thanks to what he described as universal health care offered through the US military.
“I am not an expert in healthcare, or Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, or however you choose to describe it, but I do know this: I have benefited from that kind of universal health care in my 55 years of public life,” Powell said. “And I don’t see why we can’t do what Europe is doing, what Canada is doing, what Korea is doing, what all these other places are doing.”
He also shared a story about his wife, Alma, who recently had a serious health scare with three aneurysms and a blockage in an artery.
Both he and his wife had swift, effective treatment and never had to fear whether they could afford the care they needed, he said.
Powell compared that to the experience of a woman named Anne who sells him firewood and does work around his yard.
“She and her family live out in the country somewhere, they have very limited means,” he said. “I buy wood from her every year. I’ve got about four years worth of wood out in the back yard. I can’t resist her, and she needs the money.”
About three weeks ago she came to his door, and when he told her he had no work for her, she asked him for help paying for a health crisis.
Even though she had insurance, it wouldn’t cover MRIs she needed before doctors would perform surgery to treat a growth in her brain. Powell gave the woman the money, and she’s receiving treatment now.
“After these two events, of Alma and Anne, I’ve been thinking, why is it like this?” Powell said. “Every country I’ve visited, every developed country, they have universal health care. They don’t understand why the United States of America, which uses more healthcare than just about anybody else, still (has) 40 million people not properly insured.”
“I think universal health care is one of the things we should really be focused on, and I hope that will happen,” Powell said. “Whether it’s Obamacare, or son of Obamacare, I don’t care. As long as we get it done.”
(Courtesy, Puget Sound Business Journal)
HUMCO REALIGNMENT PROGRAM ASSESSED
by Daniel Mintz
A review of the first two years of the county’s public safety realignment program has demonstrated the cost-effectiveness of jail alternatives but rehabilitation success is still in the process of being measured.
Realignment redirects non-serious, non-violent and non-sexual felony offenders to county jail and probation systems instead of state prisons and parole. Though triggered by prison overcrowding, realignment intensifies rehabilitation through service expansions and its ultimate goal is to reduce recidivism.
In a presentation at the Dec. 3 Board of Supervisors meeting, realignment’s cost savings were reported but rehabilitation success will take longer to evaluate because many sentencing and post-release supervision terms are still in the process of being served.
Some results are measureable now, however. Bill Damiano, the county’s chief probation officer, told supervisors the state projected that the county would handle 269 of the so-called non-non-non offenders in the first two years of realignment and 12 more were actually received.
An aspect the state couldn’t precisely predict – inter-county transfers – is the reason for the discrepancy, said Damiano.
Under realignment, sentencing can be a mix of jail time and community-based supervision. Damiano said Humboldt has been unusually supportive of the “split sentencing” approach.
Jail-only sentencing doesn’t involve post-release supervision and counseling. “Humboldt County has consistently been in the mid-60 percent range for split sentences, which I think is a positive indicator of how the community sees offenders in the community – they need supervision, they need assistance to help them address their criminogenic needs and reduce their likelihood to re-offend,” said Damiano. “If they’re getting a straight sentence, they’re not getting any of that -- they’re just sitting in jail and getting released outright to the community, with no support.”
The statewide average for split sentences is only 26%, he added.
The main components of the county’s realignment strategy are the Eureka-based Community Corrections Center, a “one-stop shop” for counseling services, along with alternatives to jail such as the revival of electronic monitoring, jail-based mental health services, enhancement of the jail’s high security unit capacity and expansion of the Sheriff’s Office’s work alternative program.
Participation of community-based drug and alcohol treatment organizations has also been enhanced, with state funding for the entire realignment program reaching $4.3 million this year.
Jail alternative programs have saved the county money, Damiano continued, with pretrial releases alone saving $372,000 in the two-year timespan.
He said 43% of the non-non-non offenses were drug and/or alcohol related, 29% were property and theft crimes and the rest – about 25% – were for “weapons charges, violence or other non-non-non offenses.”
“How is violence a non-non-non?” asked Supervisor Virginia Bass.
Damiano said the state based its categorization on the legal definition of a serious and violent offense, which would be excluded from realignment. But “a significant proportion” of realigned offenders serve prison time for crimes like spousal and child abuse and then are sent back to the county for post-release supervision, he continued.
Some offenders whose most recent offenses are non-serious have extensive criminal records that include violent crimes, said Damiano, adding that “these aren’t newbies to the system – these are pretty experienced criminals.”
Exceeding jail capacity has been the focus of community concern. Damiano said capacity has only been tripped on occasion in the jail’s male incarceration wing and most of the booking matrix releases due to over-capacity have occurred in the smaller female unit.
If awarded, a recently applied-for state grant will allow for expansion of the female wing.
The question of whether realignment is succeeding is still in the process of being answered. When Board Chairman Ryan Sundberg asked how the county will know if its plan is successful, Damiano responded, “We’ll measure that by the outcomes – by the people who actually make it through supervision without committing a new offense, by people who commit fewer new offenses and people who address their drug and alcohol (treatment) needs.”
Asked if there’s a target level of rehabilitation, Damiano said one of the drivers of realignment is the state’s 70% criminal re-offense rate while offenders are on parole. “But it’s hard to compare what we’re doing to parole because people no longer go to prison,” said Damiano. “And parole violators take up bed space in our jail – it’s a complete change.”
He added, “We’re establishing a baseline now, for our county, and looking forward.”
WHEN WE KILLED — or exiled — God, we also killed ourselves. No God, no afterlife, no us. We were right to kill Him, of course, this long-standing imaginary friend of ours. And we weren't going to get an afterlife anyway. But we sawed off the branch we were sitting on. And the view from there, from that height — even if it was only an illusion of a view — wasn't so bad. — Julian Barnes
TASTE AT THE RAVEN
by Nora Roberts
Radical politics and fine wine make an intriguing pairing in the Raven Players production of Jody Gehrman's new play, Taste, which opens on January 10 at Healdsburg's Raven Performing Arts Theater. It's a wine-country take on Pygmalion and My Fair Lady as progressive activist Astrid learns, to her horror, that she's inherited a winery in northern California. Joe Holbrook, the head winemaker, needs a media-savvy schmoozer if he's going to keep Chateau Chevalier in business. Instead he's saddled with a radical owner who dislikes the whole fine-wine gestalt and couldn't care less if the Merlot is corked. Sparks fly, hilariously. Local author Gehrman grew up in Healdsburg while also spending time with her father in a Berkeley commune filled with activists and anarchists. "Part of the reason I wrote this play," she says, "is that I've experienced on a family level the tension between political activism and progressive politics on the one hand, and the hedonism of the wine and food industries on the other. Both are very much a part of Sonoma County, and both were part of my upbringing." Gehrman, who teaches English at Mendocino College, has had six novels published, one recently optioned by Disney, and 20 plays produced in Ashland, New York, San Francisco, and L.A. Her dramatic influences range from Shakespeare to Sam Shephard. For Taste, she says, "I had to do a lot of research because I knew nothing about the wine and food industry. I interviewed a lot of winemakers to make sure I wouldn't make a lot of terrible mistakes." The play's director, Jacquelyn Wells, is especially attracted to new plays. She mentioned this during her interview at the Raven and was subsequently asked to direct Taste. Wells began writing stories as a child, started acting in high school, and earned a B.A. in Drama from San Francisco State. She got into directing because people kept telling her she'd be good at that too. "I do enjoy directing," she says. "One of the challenges is trying to figure out how to communicate with the actors, because every actor responds differently. Casting is another challenge. I get determined to not just settle - I go out searching for the best people." She reached out to many and ended up with four actors she hasn't worked with before. However, she couldn't find anyone for the part of a rival winemaker until she decided that it could be played to perfection by a friend named Tom O'Bryan. He's not an actor - he's the owner of the Blue Heron restaurant in Duncan's Mills - but he's now acting in Taste. She also ended up casting her stage manager in the role of Marty. That meant she had to find another stage manager, a mission now accomplished. The Raven's size poses challenges too. "It's such a big space, we have to make sure things don't get lost." Fortunately, she has a great crew. "I didn't get the shopping gene, so I appreciate costume designers. I also appreciate the stage manager and the designers for the set, lights, and sound." The set designer for Taste is adding an eight-foot thrust to the Raven's stage, where three of the scenes will be set. So, starting on January 10, two people with different visions of the world will try to recreate one another in their own image of perfection. Will Joe succeed, like Professor Higgins, in perfecting his Eliza Doolittle? Or will Astrid persuade him that there are more important things to do than create a perfect vintage? You'll have to come to the Raven to find out. Cast members are Raena Jones as Astrid Chevalier; Matthew T. Witthaus as Joe Holbrook; Nick Charles as Marty Winters (head chef); Saskia Baur as Liv Spinner (bookkeeper and marketing director); Conor O'Shaughnessy as Spike Babic (unemployed musician); Tom O'Bryan as Walter Kendrick; Rachel Brogdon as Joe's ex-wife, Gillian Kendrick; Athena Gundlach as Fleur DeMille (journalist); and Thea Rhiannon as Helen Orton (food critic). Show dates are January 10, 11, 17 and 18 (Fridays and Saturdays) at 8 pm, and January 12 and 19 (Sundays) at 2 pm. All seats are $15 for this production.