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Mendocino County Today: Friday, March 7, 2014

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IT DOESN'T GET SADDER THAN THIS. 89-year-old George Reimer of Covelo died late Wednesday night after he was found by his elderly wife in his truck about 300 feet down a steep ravine off Highway 162. Reimer was reported missing by his wife about 7:30 p.m. when he didn't return to his Covelo home from a doctor's appointment. The old man had called his wife at around 3:30 p.m. to say that he was headed home, but never arrived. Deputies commenced a search, but it was Mrs. Reimer who who spotted her husband's Tundra over the side near mile marker 18.42. By then it was nearly 11 p.m. Reimer was still alive, but so far down the ravine trapped in his vehicle, that only a valiant, and even dangerous retrieval of the Tundra with Reimer still in it by emergency services people got him back up to the road bed, where the old man died, passing away with a final goodbye to Mrs. Reimer.

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COSTCO MOVES AHEAD. The Ukiah City Council voted 4-1 Wednesday Night, Steve Scalmanini dissenting, to deny the appeal of the permit for a 148,000 square-foot Costco on the town's big box row along Highway 101.

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Well owners needed to step up to participate

by Tiffany Revelle

A local entity recently stepped up to monitor groundwater in the Ukiah Valley to preserve the valley's access to state grant funding for drought relief, and urges local well owners to volunteer to have their groundwater levels monitored.

A state Department of Water Resources representative told the Mendocino County emergency drought ad-hoc committee last week that Ukiah Valley could lose out on state funding if an entity couldn't be found to do the monitoring, which is required as part of the California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring program.

According to a Wednesday announcement from the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District, the Mendocino County Water Agency applied to be the approved monitoring entity for Anderson Valley, Round Valley, Sanel Valley and the town of Mendocino, but not for the Ukiah Valley.

"The county was aware of the gap in information and joined forces with the conservation district to provide the data collection," conservation district Executive Director Janet Olave said in the prepared statement. "What we need now is for private well owners to come forward. The process is simple and requires no effort on the part of the well owner. It is an easy way to contribute a huge public service."

The monitoring is a prerequisite for state funding for water project, which, according to Olave, "may include drought relief funding."

The monitoring program needs the cooperation of private well owners to allow local entities to conduct semi-annual visits to monitor groundwater elevation, according to the conservation district. The program's goal is to gage seasonal and long-term trends in groundwater levels within each of the state's monitored basins. The data will be made available to the public in a statewide database, conservation district stated.

The Department of Water Resources ranked California's 515 groundwater basins and subbasins as very low, low, medium and high priorities. The state is focusing on high- and medium-priority basins for state water grants or loans.

The Ukiah Valley was identified as Mendocino County's only medium-priority basin.

Out of the state's 515 groundwater basins, 126 are ranked medium- and high-priority. In the North Coast hydraulic region, there are no high-priority basins and eight ranked medium priority, including the Ukiah Valley.

To have the groundwater at your well evaluated, call Janet Olave at 462-3664, or email her at

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal.)

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SEIU LOCAL 1021, the Oakland-based 'local' and bargaining representative for about two thirds of the people employed by Mendocino County, has launched two internet ads in an effort to pressure the Mendocino County Board of Supes to restore the 10% wage cut enacted as a budget balancing measure some years ago.  The ads are titled "Bad Supervisors" and "We Pledge." SEIU is also rumored to be buying air time to launch the ads on local radio and television. (We've got television?)

"BAD SUPERVISORS" OPENS with local Native American and current Grand Jury member Lois Lockhart stating emphatically: "Elected officials should understand the needs of the community they serve!" Who can argue with that? Helen Michael, local SEIU chapter president, follows Lois, claiming: "Instead, the Mendocino County Supervisors are dismantling the local economy." How? "One bad decision at a time." Specifically?  "From privatizing mental health services to slashing local jobs and underfunding vital public services." The solution? "We need leadership and accountability." SEIU Pres Michael then encourages the viewer to "take the first step with us in the fight for a better Mendocino County as "Visit" flashes on the screen.

"WE PLEDGE" opens with Ms. Lockhart solemnly intoning, "Mendocino County is a divided community." A series of speakers then proclaim: "We must fight for what we believe in...and pledge to rebuilding our local family...and one person at a time." At which I leaped to my fight, shot both fists skyward and silently pledged to put my ancient shoulder to the wheel. And that was before more speakers pledged " help our animals find good the hungry and vulnerable...maintain and beautify our roads...protect our children and young our low income seniors." Well, I never! Animals before me and my fellow gaffers? Anyway, according to this lame brain message we can only find animals and seniors good homes if the meanie-face supervisors pay us more.

THE NEW MEND MENDOCINO WEBSITE encourages visitors to take action, first and foremost by taking the pledge: "I proudly support the Mend Mendocino campaign." But what is the campaign? "We Pledge" says it's a campaign to protect animals, kids, seniors and maybe fix the roads. Local SEIU members would probably settle for restoring their wages, not that any of them are likely to kick a kindergartner. But for the Oakland shot callers, who have failed at every previous attempt to rally community support for a wage increase, the campaign is really about showing the local membership that SEIU central really does care about them and wants to help. These ads demonstrate how far out of touch with any known Mendo reality they are.

ROXANNE SANCHEZ, SEIU PRESIDENT came up with a crew from Oakland to film the ads, which were shot in downtown Ukiah (Thomas Plaza, the Farmer's Market, School Street) and Willits (the County Museum and Recreation Grove). The ads were shot with a hand held camera. The shaky images are the perfect compliment to the nebulous message and amateurish presentation. Will the ads move the people of Mendo? SEIU has yet to clearly identify what they want and how the County can pay for it. And their target audience is composed of thousands of private sector workers, most of whom look with envy on the relatively high pay and benefits enjoyed by most County workers. In addition to paid vacations, sick leave, personal leave, bereavement leave, wellness leave and other benefits, County workers also enjoy retirement and medical benefits (including vision and dental) that most private sector employees can only dream of.

MEND MENDOCINO originally launched last year claiming it was the work of "a coalition of local workers, business owners and community supporters."  Except it was run by Anna Bakalis, a personable young SEIU staffer based out of SEIU headquarters in Oakland. Bakalis initially contacted the AVA and introduced herself as the spokesperson for Mend Mendocino. But during the one-day strike staged by SEIU back in September, she was quoted as a spokesperson for SEIU. After the better part of a year promoting Mend Mendocino, the number of people willing to sign on as members topped out at 130, almost all them SEIU members and half of them from Contra Costa and Solano Counties.  And Oakland is still in charge of the Mend Mendocino coalition. Bakalis was first to sign "the pledge" and to sign up as a member. And anyone who wants to join Mend Mendocino is instructed to send a text message to a phone number at SEIU's Oakland headquarters!

SEIU SEEMS COMMITTED to continuing its ineffective vilification of the County Supes and Admin, coupled with its equally ineffective efforts to connect with the local business community in an effort to bring pressure on the Supes. The prob is that SEIU can't even galvanize its own members to action. Last month saw the release of a "factfinding report" calling for a 3% wage restoration to be paid out of the County contingency fund. The County rejected the non-binding recommendation, saying it was an improper use of the contingency fund and that County discretionary revenue has stayed flat for the last five years while retirement and health care costs have increased.

SEIU THEN ISSUED A CALL TO ACTION urging its members to call their Supervisor: "DIAL BOS: WE DEMAND A DEAL!"  and also to show up for a mass turnout at the next Supes meeting, with a special reminder: "Be sure to purple up!" But the SEIU turnout consisted of two low level flunkies dispatched from Santa Rosa, two of the so-called local leadership team and two rank and file members. After offering some typically un-inspiring comments during Public Expression, the SEIU contingent, such as it was, filed out.

NO ONE FROM SEIU WAS PRESENT at 1:30 that same afternoon for a timed item on the mid year budget report, which is typical of the lack of interest that SEIU shows in making an honest effort to understand the budget so they can effectively advocate for their membership. Had SEIU been present for the budget discussion, or had they bothered to read the budget materials, they would have seen that the County was on track to continue building its budget reserve, with a budgeted increase from just over $4.5 million to nearly $8.8 million. In addition, they would have learned that the County is projecting a year-end balance of an additional $3.2 million, due mainly to salary savings from vacant positions. Had the SEIU leadership bothered to show up for the budget report, they could have advocated for dedicating all, or at least a portion, of the projected year-end carryover to restoring wages.

ONCE AGAIN, SEIU was missing in action. Both the rank and file, only two of whom showed up to "pack" the Board chambers as the leadership continues to show a remarkable lack of interest in showing up for budget issues. The only thing SEIU seems to have succeeded in doing over the last several years is to beat down employee morale by convincing their members that the County has no respect or appreciation for them and is indifferent to their welfare. The County, for its part, has done little or nothing to show they do care. To the contrary, the Supes consistently do dumb things, like dinging County employees for riding their bikes to meetings across town when they should be congratulating them for being environmentally and health conscious.

DURING PREVIOUS NEGOTIATIONS, when the County was seeking concessions, it was to SEIU's advantage to stall negotiations. This time around, the opposite is true. The County is happy to maintain the status quo, which is what they were bargaining for. The only way SEIU will get any increase is by reaching an agreement, something they failed to do last November when the County reportedly offered to make a one time payment of $500 to $1,000. (reports vary) and stop the health care premium increase that SEIU campaigned strongly against.

INSTEAD OF TAKING THE DEAL, SEIU turned it down, refused to take it to their members for a vote, and falsely reported that the County refused to budge off its original status quo position. Had the SEIU braintrust taken the deal, they could have declared victory for stopping the healthcare premium increase and delivering a sizeable one time payment just in time for Christmas. Agreement might also have served as a foundation for further agreement and at the least would have given the squabbling parties a break from the increasingly acrimonious negotiating process. Instead, negotiations are going nowhere, the employees get nothing, and the phony Mend Mendocino coalition is gearing up for another tilt at the windmill.

SEIU CLAIMS MEND MENDOCINO has been joined by "interested citizens from nonprofits, fellow unions, senior care facilities, child welfare advocates and teachers to identify key problems and possible solutions. The coalition is working on a mission statement and materials to walk in the community, alongside county workers, for a better Mendocino County! Stay tuned for the next coalition meeting later this month!" Now that the ad campaign has launched, can the door-to-door campaigners be far behind?

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DUI Arrest -- An officer stopped a vehicle in the 100 block of Low Gap Road at 12:58 a.m. Monday and arrested Crystal Spadacinno, 32, of Georgia, on suspicion of driving under the influence. She was cited and released.

Break-In -- Caller in the 800 block of Mendocino Drive reported at 10:31 a.m. Monday that someone broke in through the garage and stole cash. An officer responded and took a report.

Family Member Taking Money, Car -- Caller in the 1200 block of North Pine Street reported at 2:29 p.m. Monday that an elderly client wanted to report a family member was taking funds and a vehicle without permission. An officer took a report.

Teens In Truck -- Caller on Pomolita Drive reported at 4:55 p.m. Monday that teens in a white Ford Ranger pick-up truck were driving recklessly through the area, and that five of them were sitting in the bed of the truck. An officer checked the area but did not find the vehicle.

Speeding Blazer -- Caller on Cherry Street reported at 5:51 p.m. Monday that vehicles were speeding in the area, especially a woman driving a white Chevy Blazer, and requested extra patrols.

Death -- An officer responded to the 200 block of Brush Street at 7:49 p.m. Monday and took a report of a death.

Suspicious Person -- An officer contacted a suspicious person in the 1300 block of South State Street at 11:19 p.m. Monday and arrested a 38-year-old woman for being under the influence of a controlled substance.

The following were compiled from reports prepared by the Ukiah Police Department regarding calls handled by the Fort Bragg Police Department.

Broken Sprinkler -- Caller in the 100 block of South Main Street reported at 1:12 a.m. Monday that a sprinkler was gushing water for about 20 minutes. An officer responded and reported that the water was off.

Welfare Check -- Caller in the 300 block of South Harold Street requested at 11:25 a.m. Monday a welfare check on an elderly woman whose phone had been busy for the past four days. The woman, who was located at the senior center, reported she had been having phone problems.


The following were compiled from reports prepared by the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office:

Domestic Violence -- Matilde M. Martinez, 50, of Fort Bragg, was arrested at 3:33 a.m. Tuesday on suspicion of domestic assault and booked at the county jail under $25,000 bail. The Fort Bragg Police Department arrested her.

Marijuana Sales -- Xavier E. Francis, 22, of San Rafael, was arrested at 7:42 a.m. Tuesday on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale and transporting marijuana for sale, and booked at the county jail under $25,000 bail. The California Highway Patrol arrested him.

Assault With A Deadly Weapon -- David M. Vanlandingham, 57, of Mendocino, was arrested at 11:22 a.m. Tuesday on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, domestic battery and false imprisonment, and booked at the county jail under $30,000 bail. The MCSO arrested him.

DUI -- Melanie H. Moulton, 46, of Willits, was arrested at 1:40 p.m. Tuesday on suspicion of driving under the influence and booked at the county jail. The MCSO arrested her.

DUI -- Steven C. Luna, 33, of Ukiah, was arrested at 2:24 p.m. Tuesday on suspicion of driving under the influence, being under the influence of a controlled substance and violating his probation terms, and booked at the county jail under $13,500 bail. The Ukiah Police Department arrested him.

DUI -- Shannon M. Whittingslow, 43, of Potter Valley, was arrested at 8:01 p.m. Tuesday on suspicion of driving under the influence and driving with a blood-alcohol level greater than the legal limit, and booked at the county jail. The CHP arrested her.

Marijuana Transport, DUI -- David A. Ramos, 29, of Kissimee, Fla., was arrested at 11:35 p.m. Tuesday on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale, transporting marijuana for sale and driving under the influence, and booked at the county jail under $25,000 bail. The CHP arrested him.

Embezzlement -- Diane E. Rodriguez, 44, of Ukiah, was arrested at 2:22 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of embezzlement and booked at the county jail under $15,000 bail. The MCSO arrested her.


  1. John Sakowicz March 7, 2014

    Steve Scalmanini — sole dissenting vote to deny the appeal of the permit for a 148,000 square-foot Costco in Ukiah. Good for you, Steve. Neither Costco nor the City of Ukiah has sufficiently addressed the traffic mitigation issue.

  2. Crispin March 23, 2014

    I know the Reimers. Your write up of his death is offensive. “old man” indeed! I hope that when the time comes for you to die, someone will pen a similarly insensitive paragraph.

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