Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mendocino County Today: Thursday, February 27, 2014

* * *

TIME TO RE-DEFINE “STORM.” A few inches of warm rain is not a storm, breathless “storm” warnings of television weather babes and area newspapers aside. If the few inches of warm rain now falling on Mendocino County were accompanied by gale-force winds, yeah, well, maybe we have a storm. If it's just a few inches, no storm.


Unless the rains are so heavy, say 1964-heavy, it's raining, not storming. In 1964, for those of you born yesterday, the rains descended in Biblical proportions, wiping out whole communities on the Northcoast. That was a storm. 1964 set the storm standard. It's merely rained ever since. (Brought you by the Boonville Society for Precision in Language.)

Eel River at Rio Dell, 1964
Eel River at Rio Dell, 1964

* * *

LOTS OF PEOPLE who don't need to be locked away in prison remain locked away. We could name a dozen Mendo felons who, if released tomorrow, would be highly unlikely to re-offend, and only one of them committed a murder, and the murder he committed he committed at age 18. Of the 860 murderers paroled between 1990 and 2010 tracked by a Stanford study, only five of them committed new crimes and none were convicted of murder. The average released lifer is in his mid-50s. Older ex-cons are less prone to commit new crimes than younger ones.

THE LOCAL ANGLE. One of those many killers kept behind bars although he has completely rehabbed himself, is a guy named James Mackey, a former University of Pacific football player found guilty of shooting his victim with a crossbow and then strangling him. Mackey and another guy dumped their victim, a drug guy, off Highway 128 near the Sonoma-Mendo county line. Governor Brown, always considered a liberal despite his long history of illiberal actions, said Mackey hasn't sufficiently owned up to the crime. “Until he can give a better explanation for his actions,” Brown wrote, “I do not think he is ready to be released.”

James Mackey, at his trial in 1989
James Mackey, at his trial in 1989

THIS IS WHERE the political cynicism really kicks in. Brown himself doesn't read the files on these guys. One of his aides does. Worse, Mackey, and he's only one of many denied parole for no objective reason, had been recommended for parole by the Parole Board. The Parole Board is hardly a bunch of liberal hand wringers. Almost all of them are Tough On Crime people, many of them members of families who've been horrifically victimized. If they say a guy is ready to be paroled, you can be sure he's ready, and they've not only read the reports of prison staff, the people who know prisoners best, they've interviewed the prospective parolee. By the time the file gets to Governor Jive-O, the prisoner has been more thoroughly vetted than, say, a presidential cabinet member. There's no point in even having a Parole Board if these political panderers ignore their recommendations.

* * *

LakeFolsomLake Folsom 2011 — Lake Folsom 2014

* * *

ON FEBRUARY 23, 2014, at 12:31am, Mendocino County Sheriff Deputies were called to a residence on Riverside Drive in Point Arena, California regarding a loud party.  When the Deputies attempted to contact the occupants of the residence they received a response of obscenities from behind the closed door.  While at the scene Deputies were contacted by a male adult who explained that he had received text messages from two female juvenile relatives whom he was responsible for, requesting that he respond to the house as they were being prevented from leaving by the male occupants.  These text messages were shown to the Deputies.  Deputies told the subjects in the residence that they needed to send the female juveniles out or they may be subject to arrest for “False Imprisonment.”  This demand by the Deputies was met with threats of violent armed resistance by the occupants and further obscenities.  The Deputies could also see subjects, whom they recognized as some of the listed suspects, placing furniture against the doors in an effort to barricade them inside and prevent entry by law enforcement.  As additional law enforcement resources arrived, William Canida, 18, of Point Arena, Mitchell Kespohl, 18, of Point Arena, and Jaime Portillo, 20, of Sea Ranch, exited the residence and were found to be intoxicated and were arrested. Canida attempted to resist being taken into custody, but his resistance was overcome without injury.  Kespohl and Portillo were arrested without incident.  The female juveniles were released from the residence unharmed and left the scene with their guardian.  Canida, Portillo, and Kespohl were lodged at the Mendocino County Jail for the listed charges with bail set at $20,000 each. (Sheriff’s press release)

* * *

CALLING ALL MENDOCINO TEEN ARTISTS!  With the arrival of Spring, it’s time to peruse your portfolio and select your best work for recognition, prizes and gallery opportunities in downtown Ukiah.

March is National Youth Art Month, and in honor of youth artists throughout our county, Mendocino Family and Youth Services is announcing their 2014 Art Contest and Gallery Event, for students ages 14-20.  While the actual gallery event will not take place until May 2nd, timed to coincide with First Friday as well as with May is National Mental Health Month, youth are invited to submit to the MFYS office their display-ready work between March 4th and April 21st.  Towards the goal of connecting young artists with the adult world of professional artistry, community artists are being asked to take part in the hanging and jurying of the event, as well as having the opportunity to meet and mingle with young artists, and their families, at the Friday, May 2, opening reception, and the gallery viewing on Saturday, May 3rd.

Fifty percent of youth art sales is paid directly back to the youth artist, and 100% of adult art and other auction items are donated to this year’s event recipient, MFYS’ homeless youth program, the Transitional Living Program (TLP) House.  TLP House provides housing, shelter, supportive services and youth development programming for 18-21 year olds, for up to 20 months.

Visual art will be accepted in the following mediums: works on paper or canvas in ink, acrylic, water color, pencil, collage, and three dimensional pieces in clay, wood, glass and metal, and mixed media.    All artists are urged to consider how their art will be displayed, and plan accordingly with a solid stand or base for 3 dimensional work, and either matting and/or framing for flat pieces to be hung effectively.

Application packets have been sent to the art departments in area high schools, and youth may also contact the MCYP offices at or 707-463-4915 to request an application packet.

* * *


by Mark Scaramella

Once again, as in 2010, I've been approached about running against one-term incumbent Dan Hamburg for Fifth District Supervisor.

Certainly somebody should run. And I would myself, under one basic condition: At least six supporters must, on their own, form a campaign committee, draft their own statement of candidacy/platform, pony up $99 each to cover the basic filing costs, and promise to handle the finances, paperwork and the campaign appearances that I don’t have the time to do myself.

Members of the campaign committee would then have to attend those campaign events as my representa­tive to present our platform as prepared jointly by us.

I would run on a basic good/open government plat­form in the spirit of my uncle, former Fifth District Supervisor Joe Scaramella, who, when first elected in the early 1950s, drafted the first set of Board rules, opened up the County’s budget process to public review, drafted the County’s Civil Service rules and steered the County's Civil Service Commission into existence, and opposed all salary and benefits increases for Supervisors on the grounds that public service is a give back to the commu­nity, not the form of self-enrichment it became with Supervisors Colfax and Smith. Joe Scaramella went on to become the first Mendocino County Supervisor to tell a lumber company — Union Lumber Co. in Fort Bragg (later Georgia-Pacific) — that could not do something they wanted to do: a minor but precedent setting decision that Union Lumber would not be allowed to close a county road for a day for their logging operations.

Joe Scaramella was also the first and lead supervisor to approve of the imposition of substantially increased property taxes for ranch and timberland owners in Men­docino County as proposed by then-Assessor Webb Brown who demonstrated that the Mendo’s big land­owners were being substantially under-assessed and under-taxed, making ordinary landowners pay too much for the new services that counties began to be required to provide in the early 60s.

All department heads would be required to give monthly reports to the CEO and the Board via a stan­dardized reporting format covering: cost drivers, budget status, personnel status, ongoing projects and issues, upcoming problems and priorities.

All CEO meetings with department heads (as a group) would be handled as Brown Act meetings with agendas and supporting documents posted on-line. (Subject to the same exclusions as listed in the Brown Act: personnel, legal activity and labor issues would be exempted.)

The existing “buy local” preference for Mendocino County-based businesses would be raised from 5% to 10% and all contracts awarded to outfits based outside of Mendocino County would require prior Board approval.

At least one formal “meet the Supervisor” meeting would be held in each major area of the District each month, with staff on-hand where necessary rotating among: Point Arena/Gualala, Mendocino, Boon­ville/Philo, Hopland/Ukiah/Willits. These meetings would also be handled per Board rules and the Brown Act with published agendas taken from suggestions submitted by constituents.

Half of the current (and excessive) Supervisorial pay would be devoted to cover any new Brown Act compli­ance expenses, travel and out-of-pocket expenses.

All formally submitted (i.e., in writing, signed by a constituent) questions about County business will be forwarded to the applicable department(s) for formal response which, if inadequate, will be put on the next Board agenda for discussion and follow-up.

A formal Board tickler file will be established by the Clerk of the Board showing the status of all pending Board business and action item status with estimated completion dates.

Other issues we’d like to see raised:

A shift in First Five funding to vouchers for low-income childcare.

A living wage ordinance which gives preference to local companies which pay a living wage for county contracts.

Restoration of the 10% wage cut to the County’s lowest paid line workers.

Development of a county work farm and a way to deal with “frequent flyers” — that small number of peo­ple who are arrested time and again for minor crimes rooted in drug and alcohol abuse.

No position will be taken on any unresolved matter currently before the Board or anticipated to be before the Board prior to the election.

In twelve years as Supervisor former Fifth District Supervisor David Colfax held a total of two (2) meetings with constituents in Anderson Valley. In each of those meetings Supervisor Colfax told constituents time and again that nothing could be done about any of their County-level concerns. In some cases, this was true. But in many cases it was simply that Colfax didn’t want to be bothered with even bringing up issues with his col­leagues.

Colfax's successor, Supervisor Dan Hamburg, has held no meetings with his constituents in Anderson Val­ley, thus solving the problem of dealing with issues he doesn’t want to be bothered with by simply avoiding them.

Fifth District representation has deteriorated to the point that the Community Services District board has unanimously voted to explore incorporation of Anderson Valley. This happened because the Supervisor (Colfax and Hamburg over a combined period of 15 years) failed to even try to deal with a variety of local problems and issues initiated by Anderson Valley voters and concerned citizens such as:

General Plan comments and suggestions.

Low cost housing designations

Traffic calming measures

Permit processing complaints

Fairgrounds financial difficulties

The Senior Center/Veterans Hall facility

Minor Use Permits for Tasting Rooms

County road improvements/repairs

According to our detailed review of the last three years of Board meetings, Supervisor Hamburg has per­sonally involved himself in exactly two issues since being elected Supervisor: the PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) Program which would (theoretically) allow people to finance energy and conservation prop­erty owners via increased tax assessments — a program so controversial that the federal housing finance organi­zations won’t loan money to properties with PACE loans attached; and two Supervisors (Brown and Pinches) voted against it as unnecessary, risky, hard to administer, and expensive to the property owner who would pay higher interest than a commercial energy/conservation remodel under the program.

Hamburg also has joined and supported the local broadband alliance which might someday get some state PUC funding for areas of the County still stuck with dial-up internet access. So far, however, nothing tangible has resulted from that effort and Hamburg’s specific role in whatever Sacramento-insider progress has been made hasn’t made any difference on the Mendoground.

Hamburg seems uninterested in other County opera­tions and affairs — much less interested than his col­leagues — usually commenting on local matters by attempting to put them in some kind of beyond-our-con­trol national or international context.

Just this Sunday, for example, Hamburg posted the following quote from some on-line article on the Coast listserve: “Venezuela's riches under and above the ground, are so numerous, and its land so fertile, its rain­forests endless. Foreign companies and governments from the North simply cannot stop shaking from the lowest type of desire; unable to contain their unbridled greed.” The Supervisor also spends much listserve time discussing 9-11 conspiracy theories in a county and at a time when working families are having a hard time pay­ing their rent and feeding their families.

Most of Hamburg’s constituents are aware that greed and exploitation are bad, but a local focus is what most of us want from our supervisor.

Mendocino County, as Hamburg seems willfully unaware, already suffers from a kind of internal imperi­alism from outside-based commercial interests — The Gap, Duckhorn, Roederer, Kendall-Jackson, Viña Con­cha y Toro SA (the Chilean company that now owns Fet­zer), Media News Group, Sonoma County Water Agency, the Washington State Employees Pension Fund, William Hill and so on. These entities own and control the lion’s share of Mendocino County's property and economy. Has Hamburg ever even mentioned these out­side interests as a problem for Mendocino County?


The Fifth District hasn’t had locally-focused represen­tation since Ted Galletti and before that my uncle Joe Scaramella. Mendo liberals like Norm de Vall (who at least dealt with a few local problems, but seldom county government), Charles Peterson, Colfax and Ham­burg are all Big Think guys, uninterested in the func­tioning of County government.

It’s time for the Fifth District to get back to the little picture where at least a few ordinary local problems can be dealt with and county operations can be improved.

PS. Hamburg posted this notice on the Coast List­serve on Sunday, apparently at the behest of his Coast friends like Steve Antler and Lee Edmundson of Mendo­cino who want to retain the ability to appeal Town plan­ning decisions made by the County to the Coastal Com­mission.

“If you are as concerned as I am about maximum pro­tection for the Town of Mendocino, please consider attending the Board of Supervisors meeting @ 1:30 on Tuesday. On October 22 of last year, at a well-attended meeting at St. Anthony’s Hall, the Board voted against restoring the Sensitive Coastal Resource Area (SCRA) designation for the Town, a designation that had been in place from 1985 to 2005 and which the Board actually directed it to be restored in 2007! Despite the fact that the Board never rescinded that action, the Planning Department and more importantly, the Board majority have taken it upon themselves to simply pretend that directive was never issued. The relative costs in terms of time and money involved in the SCRA (standard v. administrative permit requirement) are minimal and the designation has been used historically in a very judicious manner; i.e., a total of 10 appeals over the twenty year period, the majority of which were successfully resolved. It is also the case that coastal development permits in the Town of Mendocino tend to be few and far between (two over the past five years according to former coastal plan­ner Abbey Stockwell). Without the SCRA designation, the coastal development permit designation can occur without opportunity for public review. This might be justifiable in some parts of the coast and for some pro­jects, but not for the Town of Mendocino. Please let your thoughts be known, particularly to Sup. McCowen who holds the “swing vote” on this matter. He can be reached at Materials regarding Tuesday’s meeting are, as always, available on the Board of Supervisors’ site at”

Hamburg certainly has not gone to this level of very particular interest for other issues that have arisen in his district. In addition, whether such a provision provides “maximum protection” for anything is quite unclear.


  1. Rick Weddle February 27, 2014

    Hey, I’m voting for Scaramella even if he’s not running…for anything…(plus, I live 2,000 miles out of y’all’s district). You just don’t find prospective Public Servants with such a civic attitude on ’em as this every day.

  2. Bill Pilgrim February 27, 2014

    re: “Storm.” I couldn’t agree more. The breathless, never ending media coverage of winter “storms” in the East and Northeast is especially silly and over-hyped. I grew up in New England. Winter meant snowstorms, nor’easters, endless driveway clearing (ugh), school cancellations (yay!), power lines down, cars stuck in snowdrifts, etc. Those events were expected and normal. Today they are considered apocalyptic.

  3. Mendoblather February 27, 2014

    Run Mark, run!!

  4. Jim Updegraff February 27, 2014

    Re: Rain, or storm

    I certainly remember the storm of 1964. I was living in the Bay Area

  5. Jim Updegraff February 27, 2014

    Continuing my comments on the storm in 1964. I was working for the California State Banking department as a bank examiner. Four of us came up on Monday of that week to examine The Bank of Loleta. The four of us traveled together in a single state car. This time frame was before computers and examinations generally took longer than they do now. We planned on starting on Monday and finishing up around Friday noon. Also two of us planned to take the train down the Eel River and meet the other two who would have the car in Willits.

    When we got in Monday the storm was not just raining it was a continuous cloudburst. By Wednesday we were concerned about getting out before 101 flooded. We started working overtime and finished up Thursday night. Friday when we left the water was already going over 101 and we were hydroplaning our way back to S. F. I read later one of the towns we passed through, I believe it was Pepperwood, was washed away.

    I have been in heavy storms in Chicago and Korea but newver one that went on day after day.

  6. Helen Michael February 28, 2014

    I would love to see someone run against Dan Hamburg and I agree with a good deal of Mark Scaramella’s assessment of Hamburg’s lack of accomplishments to date as the incumbent. I would like to add that since he took office he has shown a total lack of motivation to think for himself and votes for the status quo just as he has been instructed to by the regime in power. Heaven forbid he think for himself and vote according to his own conscience. Apparently, he has a very small one, conscience, that is.

    • James Marmon March 3, 2014

      Regarding Helen Michael’s comment on Dan Hamburg. “Groupthink exists.” He should do himself a favor and ask questions, think for himself, and evolve.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *