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Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, February 25, 2014

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THE LONG-PROPOSED shopping center at the junction of Highway One and Highway 20, Fort Bragg, has been stymied, primarily, by lack of water. And fear that a giant, ocean view WalMart would be inflicted on Fort Bragg. But that was then, now is now. The shopping center at 1 and 20, sans WalMart, is on again.

THERE WERE ALSO objections to the scope of previous shopping center plans, which included some dread big box emporiums and, as mentioned, inadequate water.

BUT FORT BRAGG is in the process of developing two new additional sources of water not far north from the proposed shopping center; these new supplies aren't enough to sustain massive development but sufficient for a small shopping center.

HareCreekSiteSite of proposed Commercial Center

CALLED The Hare Creek Commercial Center, the development would rest on six undeveloped acres on the west side of Highway One just south of the Emerald Dolphin miniature golf course. (All of South Fort Bragg seems to be inspired by Willits. It's become an unsightly sprawl of mismatched enterprise about to become uglier with this thing. Miniature golf, by the way, is always a sure sign of economic desperation, the commercial equivalent of a 1920's roadside stand featuring two-headed chickens and my aunt, the hermaphrodite.)

SoFBTrlrParkSouth Fort Bragg (north of mini-golf course), looking south.

HARE CREEK would consist of three big buildings for a total of 29,500 square feet. Group II Real Estate is the developer. They (I think “they” is actually one guy these days) also own the Boatyard Shopping across the street. The architect is Debra Lennox of Mendocino. She promises all manner of cool-o environmental enhancements, lipstick on this particular pig fer shure, fer shure.

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A CURIOUS and curiously secretive meeting was held in Ukiah Monday afternoon when a delegation of Jerry Brown's Drought Task Force visited Ukiah to hear what Mendo had in mind in the way of drought relief. Why the session didn't allow the interested public to sit in is not known.

THE EYES ONLY MEETING was held at the ghostly Ukiah Valley Conference Center Monday afternoon. Ukiah Mayor Phil Baldwin, Willits Mayor Holly Madrigal and members of the Mendo Board of Supervisors, probably McCowen and Brown, attended.

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A FORT BRAGG police officer suffered a broken arm early last Friday morning chasing Michael David Hammond, 29, also of Fort Bragg. Two of Fort Bragg's finest had been dispatched to a Cypress Street address to investigate “a domestic disturbance,” also aware that lover boy had a warrant out for his arrest. The officers met Hammond, who appeared agitated (read “tweeked to the max”), in the parking lot of the unhappy home. As the two cops put the cuffs on Hammond, he broke free and ran off. Officer Jonathan McLaughlin fell and broke his left arm above the wrist when he tripped and fell running after Hammond. The second officer, not identified, made a nice open field tackle on the fleeing perp and placed him securely under arrest.

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AFFLUENZA AND ITS CURES ON KZYX THIS TUESDAY AT 1PM. Affluenza is sweeping the nation -- the disease of materialism and acquisition. Author John De Graaf discusses his book, Affluenza: How Overconsumption Is Killing Us, and How to Fight Back, on KZYX's Corporations & Democracy show this Tuesday at 1 PM.  Tune in and call in your donation during this one-week pledge drive. Support the station that supports us all-- with news from many sources, all kinds of music, and several locally produced public affairs programs, like Corporations & Democracy. This Tuesday, February 25th, at 1 PM.

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To the Editor:

KZYX is currently conducting a Pledge Drive. In a previous post on the KZYXtalk listserv -- -- when I suggested that staff were "singing for their supper", they got bent out of shape. Seriously bent out of shape. One wrote saying he was insulted, deeply offended.

But why? He got his raise!

My two questions during Pledge Drive are the following. If the station was as nearly bankrupt five years ago, as General Manager, and self-appointed Executive Director and Vizier-i-Azam (Grand Vizier), John Coate, claimed at that time, then: 1.) why were all staff given a raise to double the California minimum wage in order to have them reclassified as exempt employees, and 2.) why did Coate push the Board to give him a 10% raise?

Coate's raise makes him much better paid then many in public radio, say, for instance, KMUD's Station Manger, Jeanette Todd. I know what Coate gets paid, but the KZYX Board's secrecy rules prohibit me from disclosing it. No such secrecy about salaries exists at KMUD.

Now let's consider the case where KZYX staff got paid twice the California minimum wage, which is currently $9 an hour, in order to have them reclassified as exempt employees. Twice the minimum wage is $18 dollars an hour, but staff also gets an additional 2 weeks of paid vacation.

Let's do the math. If you get paid for 2 extra weeks of vacation (at your regular hourly rate), or you actually work for those 2 extra weeks, then your total year now consists of 52 weeks. Assuming 40 hours a week, that equals 2,080 hours in a year. Your hourly wage of $18 would end up being about $37,440 per year in salary.

That's $37,440 as a base salary for all staff, except for Coate who gets paid more -- a lot more. Again, I can't say how much. The Board imposed a gag order on salaries.

It's all pretty rich at a station that contended it was nearly going bankrupt. And now, they come hat in hand again.

I have a plan for where the money should go:

  • How about a Ukiah studio? KZYX is too Anderson Valley-centric. How about a collaboration between KZYX and Ukiah-based KMEC? KMEC has a lovely studio. Sid Copperrider built it, I think. Sid is a real pro. KMEC's studio is true a thing of beauty. Programmers not only broadcast to radio from it, they can also link up up Comcast's Mendocino County Community TV's video (Channel 3). KMEC's disc jockeys are on television almost every night on Channel 3. KMEC makes sense.
  • How about restoring free speech to KZYX by returning the now-canceled "Open Lines", and its indefinitely suspended, popular host, Doug McKenty, to the air? Maybe public comment in an open forum isn't such a bad idea for truly a "public", public radio station.
  • How about restoring "Community News" to 60 minutes, instead of the skimpy 10 minutes we now get? And even those 10 minutes are two talking heads, who call themselves "reporters", reading parts of press releases and newspaper articles -- pathetic.
  • How about training community journalism volunteers -- stringers -- that can supplement KZYX's pathetic, very part-time, News Department? How about a program like KMUD's Community Journalism Project? This will enable more coverage of local arts, entertainment, politics, public affairs, and environmental issues.
  • How about working with Mendocino College and College of the Redwoods to create campus radio stations? Low-power licenses, like at KMEC, with a maximum broadcast of 100 watts, are entirely feasible.
  • How about an outreach program to recruit and train Pomo Native American Indian programmers to have their own shows? Here in Mendocino County, we have one of the largest per-capita populations of Native Americans in the U.S., yet we have no shows for our Pomo neighbors. Twenty-five years ago, KZYX's original license application to the FCC and KZYX's appropriations justification to the CPB made a big deal out of Mendocino County's Native American population, but once we got the licenses and the money, we forgot about them. This is KZYX's biggest fraud, in my opinion. Our biggest source of embarrassment.
  • How about more edgy programs? A Green Party show? A Libertarian Party show? A conspiracy theory show? A medical marijuana show? Why does William Courtney, M.D. -- the country's leading researcher on the power of juicing raw cannabis -- have to take his show all the way to KMUD in Redway. Dr. Courtney lives in Willits. Why is all programming so "safe" and "mainstream" at KZYX? Why does one person -- the Program Director -- have total control over programming? And why isn't an Program Advisory Committee in place to ensure listeners get what listeners want?

This is only a start to the possible new ideas of where your Pledge Drive dollars should really go at KZYX -- again, not salaries.

By all means, please support KZYX. Support "KZYX Members for Change" (see Facebook page). And support Board candidates Doug McKenty and Patricia Kovner.

Thank you.

John Sakowicz, Ukiah

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by Eric Bergeson

Downtown San Diego is so clean it sparkles. Its crown jewel is Balboa Park, a 1200-acre complex which includes fifteen museums, at least 18 gardens, and the world-renowned San Diego Zoo.

Balboa Park got its start in 1835 under Mexican rule when local officials, honoring a Spanish civic tradition, set aside a large plot of land as a common area for the citizens of San Diego, who at the time numbered only in the 100s.

The park took its present form when it played host to a world-wide exhibition in 1915 to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal. San Diego, which by then had grown to a population of 40,000, hoped the canal would increase its prominence as a center of trade.

In preparation for the exhibition, dozens of buildings went up in a hurry, all designed to last only one year. The exhibition was such a success, however, that it was extended another year and actually turned a profit.

At its end, Theodore Roosevelt argued that the beautiful Spanish-style buildings should be preserved.

His argument won the day. The buildings were strengthened and most of them survive.

My favorite of the old buildings at the park isn’t really a building. It is the Spreckles organ pavilion, home to one of the world’s few outdoor pipe organs.

Each Sunday, the organ roars in concert for an hour. Last week’s concert doubled as a Humane Society event. Orphaned dogs marched across the stage as the organ tweeted “How Much is the Doggie in the Window.”

Minutes earlier, the organist played a big Bach piece. The instrument handled both styles, light and heavy, with room to spare.

Time only allowed visits to three of the museums.

The Timkin Art museum is just the right size for a museum holding great art, including some Rembrandts. It is small. You can concentrate on each painting for a good amount of time, yet still do the entire collection justice without wearing your eyes out.

The San Diego Museum of Art is somewhat larger, with a nice sampling of the major art styles and eras.

By skipping over the Baroque and Renaissance stuff, which I haven’t yet learned to appreciate, and by walking real fast through the Modern section, the museum became manageable.

My eye once again gravitated towards to landscapes of French painter Camille Corot. Not as famous as Monet, Van Gogh, or other 19th century masters, Corot’s muted rural landscapes capture the haunted charm of a lonely, quiet countryside.

I had never heard of Corot until I visited the Louvre in Paris, an art museum so massive it would take months to fathom.

Months, or maybe years at the rate I walked: I got stuck in a room full of Corot paintings and never left! Unlike the Mona Lisa room, which was filled with gabbling, rabid, elbowing tourists, I had Corot all to myself. Peaceful paintings in a peaceful setting. It is a memory I cherish. I felt as if I had met a new friend.

So, as I walked through the 19th century masters back in Balboa Park, and zeroed in on a beautiful little painting of a country scene at dusk, with the setting early winter sun lighting the bare aspen branches, I was thrilled to see the name “Corot” written at the bottom.

“Ah, it’s you again!” I said to myself.

On to the photography museum, which contained six separate exhibitions. The most thought-provoking: A series of swirling mixes of glowing rainbow colors, abstract masterpieces, utterly beautiful — until you realize they are overhead pictures of oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico and not abstract at all.

You sink into the fantasy world of a good museum, only to walk out the heavy steel doors, blink back the sun, and reenter the crazy world of the present.

Specifically, we jumped on a city bus packed with commuters who hung from high steel bars, revealing, at close range, the inadequacy of their deodorant.

What a come down — until you think of the old days, the pastoral scenes painted by the masters, scenes of farms with rustic, unbathed peasants; scenes of the city market where peddlers sold live chickens out of unclean pens; scenes of Europe’s horse-packed, sewage-caked streets of 1685.

The aromas of a packed city bus in San Diego on an 80 degree day in February were probably mild in comparison to the aromas in the beautiful, painted scenes.

Best to view the smelly past from the antiseptic, air-conditioned comfort of a museum in Balboa Park, a gift from the area’s Spanish colonial heritage dating back to 1835.

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The Ugly Truths of Corporatism

by Ralph Nader

Like ravenous beasts of prey attacking a weakened antelope, the forces of subsidized capital and their mercenaries sunk their fangs into the United Auto Workers (UAW) and its organizing drive at the Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The UAW narrowly lost — 712 to 626 — and the baying pack of plutocrats exalted, as if they had just saved western civilization in the anti-union, lower-wage South.

The days preceding the vote were a corporatist frenzy with corporatist predators bellowing ‘the sky is falling.’ VW, which sensibly stayed neutral, but privately supported the UAW’s efforts and its collateral “works councils” (an arrangement that had stabilized and made their unionized, higher-paid workers in Germany more productive), must have wondered on what planet they had landed.

First out of the growling caves were the supine politicians, who always offer those proposing a factory big taxpayer subsidized bucks to bring crony capitalism to their region. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) who, without citing his source, warned “I’ve had conversations today and based on those am assured that, should the workers vote against the UAW, Volkswagen will announce in the coming weeks that it will manufacture its new mid-size SUV here in Chattanooga.” VW immediately denied that cause and effect claim.

No matter, Senator Corker then assailed the UAW and its negotiated wages and work rules for bringing down Detroit, along with the Big Three Auto Companies — GM, Ford and Chrysler. That’s strange because for decades the UAW lifted up industrial labor while the auto companies made record profits. Apart from the mistake the UAW made years ago when they sided with the auto bosses in lobbying in Congress against fuel efficiency standards, which would have made domestically produced vehicles more competitive with foreign imports, the responsibility for the auto industry’s collapse lies with management. It was all about “product, product, product,” as the auto writers say, and Detroit’s products fell behind the Japanese and German vehicles. The J.D. Power ratings, year after year, had U.S. cars bringing up the rear. The foreign car companies rated higher on fit and finish, other quality controls and fuel efficiency, while, as one former Chrysler executive told me about his industry, “We were producing junk.”

Add these losses of sales to the speculative binge of the auto companies’ finance subsidiaries, like Ally Financial Inc., previously known as General Motors Acceptance Corporation, which got itself caught in the huge Wall Street downdraft in 2008-2009. The result was that the auto giants rushed to demand a huge taxpayer bailout from Washington, which they were given.

Business associations warned of a UAW invasion of other southern states if the union organized the VW plant.

Nevertheless, the big lie the corporatists tell is that it was all the UAW’s fault for getting decent wages for its workers, who face more than a few occupational hazards.

Then something strange happened. In jumped anti-tax leader, Grover Norquist, with a new group, having the Orwellian name of Center for Worker Freedom (CWF), to put up 13 billboards in Chattanooga accusing the UAW of supporting Obama and “liberal politicians.” Perhaps Mr. Norquist thought this would influence a majority of the factory’s workers who are Republicans.

The CWF’s website also put up ludicrous postings such as “UAW wants your guns.” Was all this anti-unionist Grover Norquist’s bizarre way of promoting the idea of cutting tax revenues by keeping wages down?

It gets stranger. Powerful Republican state legislators joined with the local State Senator Bo Watson who said that if workers vote to join the UAW, “I believe any additional incentives from the citizens of the state of Tennessee for expansion or otherwise will have a very tough time passing the Tennessee Senate.” He was referring to a continuation of the $577 million already granted (in state and local subsidies) to the existing VW plant to locate there, with an additional bonanza of 700 million more taxpayer dollars should VW open up a new line of SUVs.

This is big time corporate welfare which Grover Norquist repeatedly has said he is adamantly against. How to reconcile? Who knows? He dominates Congressional Republicans with his no-tax pledge, but Grover Norquist may be spreading himself too thin when he takes on the livelihoods of American industrial and commercial workers.

There is another anomaly operating here. As Jay Bookman, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution politics writer observes, these legislators and Governor Bill Haslam “are clearly threatening to use tax subsidies to punish VW for what it believes to be a good business decision.”

What were the factors among the 89% of the workers who voted in the union election?

The no voters felt that VW was paying them wages and benefits equivalent to what workers get at other UAW or organized factories, following the union’s major concessions in recent years. So why should they pay monthly union dues? They also took in the warnings of the politicians that a possible extension of the plant may not be given “tax incentives.”

The “yes” voters, on the other hand, wanted a collective voice through the “works councils,” which, under U.S. law, require a union. Such a combination has worked in all other European VW plants. Plant worker Chris Brown said it helps efficiency. He explained that “on the assembly line, the process changes each year because [of] new models. A voice in the company would help smooth the process from year to year.”

The non-union foreign transplants, as they are called, have to date opposed the UAW’s unionizing efforts, including Nissan, Toyota and Honda. But the UAW will keep trying.

It’s not the end of the world for the union that Walter and Victor Reuther built, which in the nineteen thirties lifted up exploited, voiceless auto workers to a decent living standard with benefits, at the same time of the auto industry’s enormous expansion.

As the two-tier auto industry wage system moves more workers to the lower tier, the appeal of a unified labor voice will become clearer.

(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.)

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(To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time)

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying:

And this same flower that smiles today, Tomorrow will be dying.

That glorious lamp of Heaven, the sun, the higher he's a-getting,

The sooner will his race be run. And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best which is the first, when youth and blood are warmer;

But being spent, the worse, and worst times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time, and while ye may, go marry:

For having lost but once your prime, you may forever tarry.

— Gordon Black


  1. Elizabeth Mitchell February 25, 2014

    According to KZYX’s IRS Form 990 for 2012 (publicly available on the Guidestar Web site), John Coates’s salary for 2012 was $54,000.

  2. Lazarus February 25, 2014

    Word is Mike Tobin of Willits is withdrawing from the 3rd District Supervisor race do to health concerns.

  3. John Sakowicz February 25, 2014

    From Ms. Mitchell’s post: “According to KZYX’s IRS Form 990 for 2012 (publicly available on the Guidestar Web site), John Coates’s salary for 2012 was $54,000.”

    Yes, that’s true — in 2012. But last year, 2013, Coate got a big raise. I can’t say how much of a raise because KZYX Board secrecy rules don’t allow me to say how much.

    But any raise is appalling. During the last few years, Mendocino County’s workforce had a reduction in the number of workers — about 30% fewer workers.

    The remaining workers were forced to take a 10% salary cut.

    So much for Coate’s solidarity with county workers.

  4. David Gurney February 25, 2014

    Why do we need another shopping center from “Group II”? Half the shops and offices in the Harvest Market shopping center across the highway, now sit vacant. Who’s hair-brained idea is this, and why are they allowed to inflict this on the general population? All of that property should be reserved for the expansion of our community college, if our forward thinking civic leaders have a shred of honor, integrity or common sense.

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