CORRECTION: In last week's story by Bruce McEwen on the Escareno saga, we got our cats mixed up. Kit Elliot, not Kitty Houston, is representing Escareno.
THE LODGE AT THE WOODS, an assisted living community owned and operated by Northern California Presbyterian Homes and Services (NCPHS) has announced it will soon be closing. The Lodge compound in the hills above Little River is home to a large number of persons, not all of them elderly and disabled. The facility's directors say they have suffered “significant financial losses every year and it is no longer viable to keep the Lodge at the Woods open.” The exact closing date has yet to be determined is expected by mid to late May.
THE CAMPUS AT MENDOCINO COLLEGE rests in a lushly green sylvan setting northwest of Ukiah and, at first sight, looks more like the Olympic Village than it does an institution of higher learning, with a big modern gym, an up to date weight room, a little jewel of a football field, an all-weather track, and a baseball park better than many you'd find in the lower minor leagues. To keep it all green in draught times, the college's water bill runs about $20,000 a month (!). The college has always had a definite sports orientation and the frivolous reputation that comes with a sports rep. But it's much more than a sports center.
MENDOCINO COLLEGE also sends an impressively large number of local students on to four-year colleges and universities and qualifies as many in the skilled professions. The school's nursing program, for example, is ranked in the top twenty in the state among competition from much larger colleges and universities.
OVER THE YEARS, THE INSTITUTION has generally rolled placidly along with a board of trustees pretty much dependent on their chief administrator they rarely, if ever, direct. Times have suddenly changed.
THE NEW MENDO COLLEGE president is J. Arturo Reyes. He's been on the job about six months now and, with fringes, makes over $200,000 a year, placing him in the elite strata of Mendo income earners holding public jobs. He is a veteran community college administrator who came to Ukiah from Solano College. He began his academic life as a high school Spanish language teacher.
TO PUT IT MILDLY, Mendocino County's new college president has caused much upset among the school's long-time faculty and classified employees. Previous presidents have been largely content to leave things alone. Reyes, on the job for six months, has made it clear that he has the last vote, the trump card, over all hiring, and he plans to use it, never mind the usual processes involving existing staff. He already has slammed down his trump, and his wielding of the employment ax has already caused an undercurrent of anxiety at the school.
AND HERE'S where the discussion gets tricky, where non-Hispanics preface their complaints about Reyes with disclaimers like, “I'm not a racist but…” fearing that they'll be accused of racism for speaking up with their complaints about him. His critics claim that Reyes has already made some race-based hires that don't seem rationally defensible. And his critics don't know what he means when he says he sees Mendocino College as an “Hispanic magnet school,” which could be a good thing in a county that is increasingly Spanish-speaking by encouraging more Mexican-American high school graduates to take a shot at college, or it could simply mean the pretext for dumping Anglo instructors for Hispanic teachers.
REYES has already made it clear that people who don't possess the paper qualifications for the classes they're teaching aren't likely to survive. The question is, who will replace them? In any case, we're talking about people like, say, a PhD retired engineer teaching math who doesn't have a master's degree in mathematics but obviously, as an engineer, possesses the higher math skills he's good at conveying to junior college students.
WHEN THE COLLEGE'S director of personnel retired, the mandated national search for a replacement kicked off. Reyes nixed the finalists and installed a thinly credentialed interim guy named Jose Milan. To oversee the closing out the left over funds from a building bond, Reyes hired $150-an-hour consultants out of Merced to do the supervising. A critic comments, “Merced? No one closer to home could do it?” And he has fired the dean of students for reasons invisible to staff.
REYES has also managed to upset random members of the surrounding community. He has decreed that the Ukiah symphony orchestra must pay user fees to present their popular concerts in the college's theater where the symphony has performed free for years. But one of Reyes first acts was to mark out a parking spot for himself which, his critics note, is seldom occupied.
IT DOESN'T GET SADDER THAN THIS. 89-year-old George Reimer of Covelo died late Wednesday night trapped in his truck about 300 feet down a steep ravine off Highway 162. Reimer was reported missing by his wife about 7:30pm when he hadn't returned 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 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 off the road that only a valiant 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, still conscious and speaking, soon died, passing away but with enough breath left for a final goodbye to Mrs. Reimer.
WAGENET WANTS BACK IN. Former 3rd District supervisor Hal Wagenet has signed up to run for his old seat. A one-term supervisor in between three-termer Johnny Pinches and another one-termer named Tom Lucier, this time around Wagenet will be opposed by Willits mayor Holly Madrigal and Willits realtor Tom Woodhouse.
THE 3RD DISTRICT race is hard to call. Wagenet's record as supervisor wasn't what anyone might call memorable, while Ms. Madrigal is a long-time employee of the primary dope supply house for the North County, a fact that annoys the few North County voters not engaged in the marijuana trade. and it won't help that Ms. M's brother just set his house on fire brewing up a batch of honey oil. Candidate Woodhouse's views on county issues remain unknown. He is, however, highly regarded for his years of volunteer work with the schools and the Willits Library, and seems to have an enthusiastic base of support.
NO ONE signed up to run against 5th District incumbent, Dan Hamburg.
THREE PERSONS are running to succeed Paul Tichinin as superintendent of County schools. Tichinin has announced he is retiring. Tichinin's assistant administrator, Paul Joens-Poulton, Kathy Wylie and Warren Galletti are the candidates for a job that pays better than $120,000 a year but has no identifiable tasks. Tichinin has been one of the highest paid, least worked, of Mendocino County's public bureaucrats. He's best known for accusing a union rep of racism for characterizing proposed pay raises as “niggardly.” Oddly, or not so oddly given the standards of public ed, Tichinin's lawyers, also paid out of public ed funds, signed off on the “niggardly” letter, which was also signed by every independent school administrator in the County. The whole affair was both a spectacular demonstration of the quality of the people responsible for instructing the 13,000 youngsters of Mendocino County.
TICHININ goes back to the days of Lou Delsol when the Superintendent's office consisted of Delsol and a small cadre of associates modestly housed on Low Gap Road where County offices sit today. As more and more money flowed from Sacramento and the federal government for nebulous (and failed) educational strategies rather than directly to the individual school districts of the County, the County Office of Education grew ever larger by taking a big whack of this bonanza money for themselves on the pretext of “administration.” Soon the County Schools apparatus, now consisting of more than a hundred people, moved into quarters at Talmage, re-done at huge public expense out of an old dairy at what was once part of the State Hospital. Very few County residents outside the educational community, which is of course quite large when you consider how many people are employed in it County-wide, have the faintest idea that the County Office of Education exists, let alone know what it does with the more than $36 million annual dollars flowing through the office.
THERE WAS A PERIOD of scandal in the middle 1980s revealed by Boonville's beloved community newspaper during which two of Tichinin's colleagues went to jail, another was unseated from the superintendent's job. Tichinin kept his head down and survived unscathed. His would-be successors?
WARREN GALLETTI is best known as the long-time basketball coach at Point Arena High School. He also served as high school principal. Galletti's contract was not renewed at Point Arena and he moved over to a job with the Ukiah School District where he presently works.
MS. WYLIE tried to run against Tichinin in 2010 but apparently wasn't fully credentialed. (Edu-credentials! Don't get me started. But let's say anyone who can afford to pay for the qualifying classes and then sit through them all, eventually emerges with one.)
IN 2009 when the MCOE Board was about to vote on their budget, Ms. Wylie singled out management costs as comprising of 44% of the overall personnel costs at the office, a sign that she's on to the Talmage clown show.
MS. WYLIE presently represents Albion on the Mendocino School Board, having been appointed to the board in November. She also is the director and co-founder of the Three Rivers Charter School located on the Fort Bragg campus of the imperiled Fort Bragg branch of the College of the Redwoods. She is clearly the best candidate for the job.
ECO-DOPIA, GROUND ZERO, was hit on Tuesday (March 4th) by a multi-agency drug task force. “Love In It Cooperative,” an out-front marijuana collective overseen by a well-known Albion woman named Sherry Glaser, suffered the seizure of “marijuana, marijuana food items, scales, a money counter, narcotic sales records, five firearms including an assault weapon, items used to manufacture a controlled substance (honey oil via butane extraction method), approximately $65,000.00 in US Currency, approximately 800 growing marijuana plants and other evidence related to the sales of marijuana.”
ARRESTED were Ms. Glaser, 53, of Albion; Robert Love, 52, of Fort Bragg; Dana Howells, 26, of Comptche; Larissa Maple, 26, of Comptche; Howard Baker, 56, of Comptche; Kevin Logan, 34, of Comptche; Michael Spradlin, 19, of Fort Bragg; Colton Nation, 18, of Albion; Cassidy Erickson, 18, of Fort Bragg.
THE BIG BUST apparently began in Colorado, according Capt. Greg Van Patten of the Mendo Sheriff's Department, when Colorado police intercepted a package of cash, another package of dope and soon alerted Mendocino County of the intercepts.
A READER WRITES: “I only know about Eyster's dope procedures and profits from what I read in your paper, but to me there is larger story behind this bare breasted activist Mama with her — you got to love it — illegal, pharmaceutical business. I know the kid (age 19) arrested with her; a sweet boy and recent graduate of Mendo High School. Now what? He's got a record for the rest of his life? This county is so destructive to young men. You've seen it as much as I have. Glaser will undoubtedly turn her arrest into some grand, breast-baring campaign for the legalization of marijuana, instead of what it really was: an organized, criminal enterprise in an attempt to get rich. Look at Hamburg's son; look at the young men I've seen grow up on the Coast who moved on to the mind-numbing dead end job of growing pot, the so-called people's drug. A significant portion of young, Mendocino males have gone to hell following these hypocritical, pied pipers of liberal-land. Then there are the ones who are dead. The next fool who says to me “just legalize it” as a way of turning their back on the dark consequences marijuana cultivation has reeked on the young of this county, the next fool who tells me that, is a fool who can go to fucking hell. And, as good a guy as he is, I include Pinches in my opinion. I don't care what it is. If it's illegal, the cops are waiting; the courts are waiting, the state and national government are waiting, and the rest of your ruined life is waiting. Sorry, but this one really pisses me off.”
AS FRANK HARTZELL points out in his excellent story on Monday's KZYX board meeting for the Fort Bragg Advocate News, John Sakowicz's fellow board members whined long and loud about him without citing much of anything in the way of specifics. Sako's FCC complaint was and is entirely justified solely on his being denied access to the station's financial records, and he's the treasurer! A reputable organization doesn't break out the weeping and wailing if they're on the up and up. Good for Sako, we say.
KZYX CANDIDATES NIGHT NOTES assembled by Mark Scaramella who prefaces his impressions by conceding that “those four deadly letters, KZYX, have a soporific effect on otherwise intelligent people”: Very high level of abstraction from all candidates. Process, committees, reviews, evaluations, input, membership involvement, outreach, etc. But none of them really seemed to know what they were talking about, at least as the blah-blah might apply to Public Radio, Mendocino County. Question: What do you do for a living? Answer: Nothing. None of the candidates work for a living, all but two have never worked for a living. Lambert was once a financial something in LA before re-locating to Willits but hasn't done anything in years other than being the KZYX news guy for a year and a half as he delivered a few minutes of weather reports and press releases. Courtney makes jewelry, but “it’s not a living.” Melcher is a writer who recently moved here from Vermont and doesn’t know much about KZYX history. Kovner does something in the medical marijuana area. Collins is a “journalist” and “KZYX archivist.” McKenty helps his wife with an organic garden. Futcher is a writer. Futcher and Courtney expressed absolute devotion KZYX's stumbling management. “I support management 100%.” “Mr. Coate has been subjected to vicious attacks,” a phrase Ms. Courtney used repeatedly, once adding, “I’m afraid he might quit!” When asked about John Sakowicz, the hardcore Coate-ists (Futcher, Courtney) said Sako was trying to destroy “our” station. The middle of the road extremists (Melcher, Lambert) said Sako might have some legit beefs but he hadn't basted them in Mendo Blather and the rhetorical equivalent of huggie bears. Sako's complaint to the FCC was, gosh and golly, totally like total. The Change-ists (McKenty, Kovner, Collins) distanced themselves from Sako, saying some of his complaints were valid and should be explored in a more “appropriate” manner. (Yes, Mommy. Can I have my cookie now?) But nobody even tried to address the specifics of what Sako actually said. Kovner admitted she had no idea what Sako’s complaints were, never saw them, never read them, had no opinion of them. They all seem to want some kind of return to Esposito-style “community news,” which, in objective fact, was unfailingly spineless in the pablum-PC manner of Mendolib albeit locally focused, while a few wanted the aimless and infrequent “open lines” show back on the air. Nobody mentioned increasing local public affairs programming. Obviously, the Coate-ists — Futcher, Courtney, Lambert — will be elected (the worst of them, Courtney who is also, incredibly, a Fort Bragg City Councilperson, is of course running unopposed), and KZYX will continue to be irrelevant to most of Mendocino County.
PS: The Board member who replaced McKenty as programmers’ rep is a part-time Santa Rosa Junior College “philosophy” instructor named Stuart Campbell. On his KZYX webpage for his entirely non-Mendo big-think show “Consider This,” Campbell describes himself: “I am committed to promoting critical living, by which I mean engaged, discerning and creative living that fulfills life. I am an educator, having taught courses in comparative religion, critical reasoning, introduction to philosophy, ethics, & communication.” I.e., a perfect KZYX board member. Campbell comes with another crucial KZYX board qualification: He’s really, really boring (as a check with the on-line professor ratings website demonstrates).
PPS. Sako’s most intense critic is Board member Robert Page. According to KZYX’s listing of Board members Page is “Managing Partner at the Airport Health Club in Santa Rosa.” Perfect. Another board cipher who doesn't know anything about the validity of the complaints about station management and doesn't want to hear them, let alone intelligently address them. Nobody wondered how two Board members from Sonoma County with no apparent roots or interest in Mendocino County managed to somehow get on the Board of Mendocino Public Radio. We recommend No Votes on the whole bunch.
CHRISTINA AANESTAD clarifies her departure as KZYX's newsperson: “W.Dan is not 50% accurate. He's right, I was not fired. I was laid off. There WAS, however a desire to get me out. I was unhappy there and they knew it. They didn't like me. I was seen as more of a liability than an asset. At KMUD I'm treated far better and respectfully than anyone at KZYX ever treated me, other than Rich Culbertson. I wouldn't work there now if you paid me.”
HOUCK'S Original Letter: “Sorry Bruce but you are completely wrong about John Coate. He is quite competent. It is obvious you have been completely against the station from its inception and have no intention of allowing truth to get in the way of your criticism. Under Coates' management the station has gone from crushing debt to operating in the black. Hard decisions had to be made, among them having to lay off the full time news person. Christina Aanestad was not fired. She was asked to submit stories for which she would be paid, much like she has done for other outlets, but she refused. There was no desire to have Christina go, just hard financial moves required to keep the station afloat. Much like discontinuing syndicated shows like Prairie Home Companion, and Click and Clack. And now that John Coate has directed the station back onto solid financial ground the local news is back as well. By having Sheila Tracy as your dedicated station reporter it shows your contempt. As a former employee of the station she has an axe to grind. Apparently she is bitter about not being able to destroy computers and knock out other equipment like she used to do with a vacuum as the paid cleaner. Now she is attempting similar destruction by working with KZYX Members for Change. Hardly an objective reporter. And she seems quite enamored of the statistic showing more KMUD members in Mendocino Co than KZYX members in Humboldt. A good reporter might then mention that KMUD's signal reaches much further into Mendo than KZYX's does into Humboldt. Probably more Press Democrat readers in Mendo than AVA readers in Sonoma too eh? Hell there are probably more here in the Anderson Valley reading the P.D. than the AVA! Patricia Kovner needs to get her facts straight if she wants to be a board member of the station. Christina was not fired. Annie Esposito is still on the KZYX airwaves, she co-hosts Corporations & Democracy. The station is not a closed shop, new local shows are regularly added. Most of the time when a local show goes off it is because the host no longer wants to do the show. You are welcome to your partisan sniping from the dictatorial position of your privately run paper Bruce, a luxury the station does not have. You can continue the personal attacks and lies, something else the station does not do. But I think it shows poor and petty management.”
I NEVER KNOW whether to laugh or cry at communiques from KZYX partisans. I didn't recruit Ms. Tracy. She volunteered to cover KZYX board meetings, rare as they are. Mr. Houck could also cover them for us if he were so disposed, that way the dictatorship here at the AVA could present different perspectives to the multitudes of Press Democrat readers in the Anderson Valley. Of course Houck would need to learn the diff between a fact and an opinion but, heck, we could put him in the slo-mo class with Gordy Black, and he and Gordy both might eventually get there, although Gordy's still stuck on Lesson One, which is — Opinion: KZYX is a Moonie-like operation run by and for morons. Fact: It could be otherwise. PS. Actually, I've become a great fan of Michael Kislinger's local news. Why, just this morning I tuned in time to catch Mike's lead story about how it was time to check the batteries in our smoke detectors, which also reminded me to rotate my tires. I'd been doubly reminded, doubly informed! And it was only 6am. Thanks, Mike. Thanks, KZYX. Keep up the good work!
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. Costco is all systems go.
THE LOCAL ANGLE on the Safeway buyout by the corporate vampire squid, Cerberus? Too early to tell, but in the already crowded market-market business in Ukiah with a CostCo on the way, and Cerberus poised to suck every possible penny out of the Ukiah Safeway, it doesn't look good for the store's survival. Safeway has much less competition in Willits, less yet in Fort Bragg. But all the local markets will be hurt by CostCo whose bulk prices can't be matched by locals, and local shoppers can't afford nostalgic shopping at places like Ukiah Safeway.
ON-LINE COMMENT re Safeway buyout: “This development (buyout by Cerberus) could not be good for consumers or workers. These firms that buy out these companies — with borrowed money — are only interested in one thing — immediate short term profit, and huge salaries and bonuses for people at top (see Mitt Romney). Look for stores closing, real estate being sold off, efforts to bust unions. Safeway's decision to sell to this group will go down as the end of Safeway, long one of the best local employers (of its type) for generations really.”
SEIU LOCAL1021, 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 mendmendocino.org“ 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 communities...one neighborhood...one family...and one person at a time.” At which I leaped to my feet, shot both fists skyward and silently pledged to put my ancient shoulder to the wheel. And that was before more speakers pledged “...to help our animals find good homes...help the hungry and vulnerable...maintain and beautify our roads...protect our children and young adults...help 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?
FORMER FIFTH DISTRICT SUPERVISOR JOE SCARAMELLA on the conditions surrounding his first election to the Board in 1952:“In 1952 when I came onto the board there was an operation the Ukiah Daily Journal called a ‘meat axe operation.’ Four incumbent supervisors were wiped out. [One of whom, the man Scaramella replaced, had died. — ms] The only reason the other fella was left was because his term wasn't up. I became part of a new wave of Supervisors in a special election that year. The other three were Joe Hartley from Hopland who succeeded Ed Haehl. There was Harold Bainbridge, who succeeded a drunk, pardon the expression, from Fort Bragg. Then from Ukiah, Paul Poulos defeated Guy Redwine, also a man who was inclined to tilt the bottle. So that was the four. The first thing I did was prepare a set of rules so that the Board could operate with some degree of responsibility. So we adopted the first set of rules. Because I was responsible for the rules and was more or less familiar with them, I often prevailed because I knew the rules. But I never abused it. We met once a month in the County Courthouse. With a huge salary by the way. We were getting $200 a month. “In line with my nature I tend to be critical. I suppose some would perhaps say revolutionary. I thought reform was a part of the job that needed to be done. One of the things that motivated me was that I wanted to prove these people wrong — the people who had me sized up wrong who were calling me a ‘troublemaker.’ “In 1952 it was a fluke that I was elected. After the first two years of the term, people recognized that I wasn't the pain in the butt that they figured I was going to be. Mr. Ornbaun's friends got Jim to run against me again in 1954. They still opposed me. The first time, in the 1952 special election, I defeated him narrowly. The second time, in 1954, I defeated him handsomely. Then in 1958 I had no opposition. That was the only free ride I ever had. In 1962 my friend Ted Galletti ran against me and again in 1966. Some people still thought I was a troublemaker and wanted to get me out of office. There will always be people who are unhappy with you for one reason or another, sometimes more than unhappy. Oh yes, and how. This is a small community. There were family relationships and business relationships. All of those played a part in it. In 1962, why, hell, I beat Ted Galletti damn near two to one. But after that the Fifth district was enlarged and went up damn near to Fort Bragg, up to Highway 20 and Ted had a lot of friends and relatives up there. In 1996, hell — I carried Mendocino by only three or four votes, it turned out. When the votes were being counted, my wife and I were over in Ukiah and things were going badly. She said, ‘Let's go home. You've had it.’ I said, ‘Let's wait a minute.’ Pretty soon the lady came out and she said, ‘Well, you may find this hard to believe, but the south coast came in and you made it.’ The south coast never cared much for Ted Galletti ever since he was on the high school board here [in Point Arena]. For some reason he offended somebody. Anyway, when that vote came in, instead of trailing by a few, I was leading by about 40, so that was the last time I defeated him — but narrowly. So when I went to the supervisors convention they used to refer to me as ‘Landslide Joe’ because I beat him by so few votes.”
A RECENT CHRON STORY listed NorCal hate groups as if they represented an imminent fascist threat to our plump, oblivious population. The source? The Southern Poverty Law Center, assets of $260.5 million plus a pharaonic-sized headquarters in Atlanta. With assets of $260-plus mil, scaring the libs is darn near a Fortune 500 enterprise.
A BUNCH OF CRACKPOT organizations made the hate group top ten for NorCal, but nowhere in either the story, or the Southern Poverty Law Center's website, did we get an estimate of how many dues paying nutjobs there were and any assessment as to which group or groups might go all the way over into attack mode. I'd be surprised if we're talking even a thousand total racists here, not that there aren't a good number of racists abroad in our fair land but not many who would dare dress up in sheets and pointy hats and swastika armbands for a strut down Market Street, let alone take up arms.
CALL ME POLLYANA, but I remember when race relations were much more poisonous, and anybody who says we don't generally get along a lot better these days is simply blind to the millions of loyal and affectionate intra-race relations of contemporary America.
I'D ADD that anti-Semitism has become pretty much non-existent in the US, thanks to the mass drop-off in literacy. After all, you have to read well enough to decode The Protocols and the rest of it to become an anti-Semite. Old fashioned racism is a lot easier for the average stupid person because it's color-coded.
SO I LOOKED up some of the hate groups. One website featured a bunch of fat guys in Klan garb. The few up-close photos revealed faces familiar to special ed teachers and other professionals who make their way helping the learning impaired.
IN ALL THE WILD TALK about looming fascism in this country, it's not going to come from these people. It will look and sound a lot more like the KZYX board of directors with occasional executions of residual anti-capitalist radicals via NSA-dispatched drones. President for Life will be someone like Bill Clinton. NPR, with no off button, will be piped into all American homes and dope and pornography will be mandatory for citizens with annual incomes under $50,000.
GANT was incapable of resignation. He had the most burning of all lusts — the lust of memory, the ravenous hunger of the will which tries to waken what is dead. He had reached the time of life when he read the papers greedily for news of death. As friends and acquaintances died he shook his head with the melancholy hypocrisy of old men, saying, “They're all going, one by one. Ah, Lord! The old man will be the next.” But he did not believe it. Death was still for the others, not for himself. He grew old very rapidly. He began to die before their eyes — a quick age, and a slow death, impotent, disintegrating, horrible because his life had been so much identified with physical excess — huge drinking, huge eating, huge rioting debauchery. It was fantastic and terrible to see the great body waste. They began to watch the progress of his disease with something of the horror with which one watches the movements of a dog with a broken leg, before he is destroyed — a horror greater than that one feels when a man has a similar hurt, because a man may live without legs. A dog is all included in his hide. His wild bombast was tempered now by senile petulance. He cursed and whined by intervals. At the dead of night he would rise, full of pain and terror, blaspheming vilely against his God at one moment, and frantically entreating forgiveness at the next. Through all this tirade ran the high quivering exhalation of physical pain — actual and undeniable. —Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel
A SINGLE PLANT is leading California's water consumption. Unfortunately, it’s a plant that’s not generally cultivated for humans: alfalfa. Grown on over a million acres in California, alfalfa sucks up more water than any other crop in the state. And it has one primary destination: cattle. Increasingly popular grass-fed beef operations typically rely on alfalfa as a supplement to pasture grass. Alfalfa hay is also an integral feed source for factory-farmed cows, especially those involved in dairy production. If Californians were eating all the beef they produced, one might write off alfalfa’s water footprint as the cost of nurturing local food systems. But that’s not what’s happening. Californians are sending their alfalfa, and thus their water, to Asia. The reason is simple. It’s more profitable to ship alfalfa hay from California to China than from the Imperial Valley to the Central Valley. Alfalfa growers are now exporting some 100 billion gallons of water a year from this drought-ridden region to the other side of the world in the form of alfalfa. All as more Asians are embracing the American-style, meat-hungry diet. — Meat Makes a Planet Thirsty, NY Times
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: “Most of the men who signed up for WW2 were bored little farm boys (like my dad) who found a great ‘patriotic’ excuse to get the hell away from the farm and see the world. Granted, they were a far cry better men than ‘merica produces today — can you imagine fighting that war with today’s crop? — but that’s more about their austere, hard-work upbringing than about any particular heroism…”
Dead on insight. My Great uncle Connie was an upstate New Yorker, son of German immigrant parents, imbued with a type of indefatigable work ethic I’ve never seen in another man since, certainly no Boomer I’ve observed comes close; admittedly, that nature kind of character is absent in me too, not because I’m lazy or unhardy, but because whatever opportunity existed for men of that character then doesn’t exist in any form or fashion today, not without perpetuating some other hidden travesty at least. Thing is, such travesties are no longer hidden from the limited vantage point of your fabled farm boys. It’s all out in the open now, thanks to globalism and the DUBYA DUBYA DUBYA. For this we can expressly credit the WWII generation’s craven offspring. My Uncle was a WWII paratrooper, a successful business owner afterward, and if I believed in heroes, he would qualify as one. Anyhow, he was simply a man who liked to make his own way in life, and lived during a time in this country when that was still mostly possible; he didn’t have to answer much to the government. Not so today. I certainly don’t have an explanation as to why shit is so fucked up now, as if it never wasn’t; my unclear rant likely demonstrates this, but as far as “today’s crop” goes, I won’t defend them against the WWII generation; WWII warriors were fortunate enough to be allowed to drop the first nukes on enemies with impunity, and had the good fortune of hiding behind all the fear and false glory winning a war that way enables; in contrast, my generation doesn’t get the same conscience-free shot at risking nuclear annihilation and the end of the species in another go ’round of atomic dispute; we know what the atom is now, different to ‘dem farm boys. So fighting a third world war to protect and preserve all the bullshit platitudes of the past and the shameful deceit and continual rot which followed it is an absolute disgrace. Boomer politicians and Millennial soldiers won’t get to drop nukes unanswered this time, so let’s stop pullin’ dick about it. I surely won’t fight for the same lies men of the past stood for.”
OFFICER, I THINK HE WAS CARRYING A FISH. A Eureka man was arrested in Ukiah last Wednesday after being spotted carrying a large stuffed fish, the Ukiah Police Department reported. According to the UPD, an officer contacted a man walking in the 1000 block of North State Street shortly after midnight March 5 while carrying a six-foot-tall, stuffed fish. The man was identified as Colt C. Lyon, 31, of Eureka, who was reportedly on parole in Humboldt County and had left the county without permission. He was arrested on suspicion of violating his parole.
THE STORNETTA PUBLIC LANDS, POINT ARENA, already a public set-aside, has been declared part of the Coastal National Monument by President Obama. A festive ceremony was held in Point Arena on Wednesday to commemorate Monument status.
THE LOCAL ANGLE: Jeffrey Ruano, 50, of San Francisco, was arrested in San Jose after a manhunt that closed down streets in Daly City and a high-speed car chase that spanned four counties. He is accused of shooting a San Francisco police officer Saturday afternoon in San Francisco's Mission District. It has since developed that Ruano was not armed and that the officer was apparently accidentally shot by another officer. Ruano was booked into jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon — a reference to his car — as well as illegal possession of ammunition as a convicted felon and evading officers. Ruano had active warrants out for his arrest in San Mateo and Mendocino counties. He was on probation in Mendocino County after pleading guilty in 2011 to dealing cocaine and methamphetamine. As part of the plea deal, Ruano enrolled in San Francisco's chapter of the Delancey Street Foundation, an organization that helps drug addicts and ex-convicts. In Mendocino County, he wrote a long letter to the district attorney asking for a chance to “turn his life around,” Mendo DA spokesman Mike Geniella told the SF Chronicle. “The bottom line here was that we decided to give him one last chance,” Geniella said. “The bottom line now is that he's a man who has had his last chance.”
“THEORIES abound about what drives this crisis and all the credible stories revolve around the question of natural gas. I go a little further, actually, and say that the specter of declining energy sources worldwide is behind this particular eruption of disorder in one sad corner of the globe and that we’re sure to see more symptoms of that same basic problem in one country after another from here on, moving from the political margins to the centers. The world is out of cheap oil and gas and, at the same time, out of capital to produce the non-cheap oil and gas. So what’s going on is a scramble between desperate producers and populations worried about shivering in the dark. The Ukraine is just a threadbare carpet-runner between them. The playbook of great nations is going obsolete in this new era of great nations having, by necessity, to become smaller broken-up nations. It could easily happen in the USA too as our grandiose Deep State descends further into incompetence, irrelevance, buffoonery, & practical bankruptcy.” (—James Kunstler)