CORRECTION. Chris Brennan was not marched out of the DA's office at gunpoint, as reported here last week. Brennan has never met DA David Eyster and emphasizes that the DA's staff has always been "polite and professional" in his business with the DA's office. Additionally, Brennan wants to make it clear that he is merely speaking, informally, for a group of people unhappy with the DA's pot policy whereby arrested people can settle their cases for fines and misdemeanors. He says he thinks the policy "erodes confidence in the justice system." Brennan also said he hoped that Sheriff Allman would indeed crack down on illegal water diversions by pot growers, but only diversion case he knows of had "disappeared," meaning it has not been prosecuted. The information Brennan has provided us has all come directly from public records.
THE POINT ARENA Parrot Preservation Society is alive and well: “There have been a few changes in the past few years. Unfortunately on April 29, 2005 Barbara passed away. Christine is now running Parrot Preservation Society. Geoffrey is taking care of the farm and helping with advise, as he no longer runs Parrot Preservation Society. Dave is still our Web Master for whom I am so grateful, for without him my mom’s dreams and knowledge would not still be available. Volunteers are always needed. Would you like to come to the farm and help clean out water dishes? Email or give us a call. Donations are still always welcome to help purchase nuts for the Parrots. If you would like to help, you can send a donation to the farm for the purchase nuts or you can call The Nut House in Los Angeles at 213-623-2541 and order a bag of nuts of your choice and have them shipped to the farm in CA. firstname.lastname@example.org
THEY'RE ALREADY FLOCKING to Point Arena. The publicity generated by National Monument Status for the stretch of seashore sold to federal government prompts a Fog Eater to write: “It's unbelievable how many monied couples are showing up to the coast from the news. It'll change PA forever. One of the recent articles said to, 'Flock to Point Arena to buy before it fills up!' They're filling us up already!”
CONSIDERING THAT YEATS wrote the following poem almost a hundred years ago, it's even more prescient today, and so prevalent millions of us doomsayers can recite it by heart:
THE SECOND COMING
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
(— W.B. Yeats)
COMING SOON TO HBO, Shrimp Boy, An Inevitable San Francisco Scandal brought to you by America's political system.
“SAN FRANCISCO — State Sen. Leland Yee, a prominent figure in California's Democratic legislative majority, was arrested in a federal corruption investigation Wednesday along with an ostentatious gangster known as "Shrimp Boy" — who insisted that he had gone straight — and two dozen of their alleged associates. An affidavit filed in federal court in San Francisco by FBI Special Agent Emmanuel V. Pascua said there was probable cause to believe that Yee had conducted wire fraud and had engaged in a conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and illegally import firearms.” … “The organized crime figure known as Shrimp Boy, whose name is Raymond Chow, identifies himself as the ‘dragon head’ of that Freemason organization on his Facebook page. The indictment says that Chow, 54, whose criminal history includes racketeering and robbery, has a position of ‘supreme authority’ in the Triad, an international organized crime group.” (Los Angeles Times)
WITH ELECTED government at all levels for sale, our political class, or the poorer sectors of it, resort to the cruder forms of bribery. The richer sectors, and in SF that means the Feinstein-Willie Brown-Pelosi-Rose Pak Axis, don't have to resort to criminal schemes to fund raise; they simply go to big time capital and, in return, well, you know the rest. Senator Yee, incidentally, and Shrimp Boy, have never been included in the Brown-Feinstein-Pak apparatus.
FRISCO, of course, can be depended on to bring some uniquely florid touches to what any other place would be the usual story of a career officeholder of one party or the other reaching into pockets beyond “the strict donor reporting and accountability standards” overseen by — guess who? — political appointees.
BUT IN THIS ONE, the FBI is alleging China-based organized crime, murder for hire, gun running, cargo hijacking, and, natch, drugs and prostitution. Or as the Chron put it, “underage prostitution,” conjuring up images of 19th century Chinatown slave girls. It took the G-Men five years to make the case, although reading the on-line indictments it all seems awfully thin, especially for five years work the FBI says it put in on it.
BY THE WAY, the October murders of Jim Tat Kong and Cindy Bao Feng Chen, who were found still seated in their van off Highway 20 near Fort Bragg dead of gunshots to the backs of their heads, has all the earmarks of a professional San Francisco criminal hit. Neither victim had ties to Mendocino County. Both were well-to-do, their murders inexplicable in the way certain Asian murders in the SF Bay Area seem inexplicable. They go like this: An ostensibly respectable person will be shot and killed in his garage in a good neighborhood in what seems like your basic senseless, random shooting. But nobody heard the shot, and it's always just one, and friends and relatives will say they're absolutely mystified. The hit will turn out to be gambling-related if it's a murder of a respectable person. The murders of Jim Tat Kong and Bao Feng Chen remain under investigation, an investigation that is partly federal.
ONE OF THE ALLEGATIONS against Yee is that he was arranging arms sales and importation through a captain in the Army of the Philippines. Huh? This one defies common sense, and these guys aren't stupid. You mean to say that in return for a bunch of cash Yee's guy will buy military weapons in the Philippines and arrange for them to be smuggled in through New Jersey ports? The senator would have much simpler access to money without leaving San Francisco.
OR SACRAMENTO, as per this howler in Tuesday's SF Chronicle: "Hours after FBI agents finished a raid on state Sen. Leland Yee's office in the state capitol on Wednesday, lawmakers emerged from the stately building to attend numerous campaign fundraisers around town. The fundraisers, typical at this time of year, are where lawmakers raise thousands of dollars for their future campaigns - with much of the money donated by groups or individuals with pending business before the Legislature."
WHAT DO YOU suppose the odds are that any of this will change short of revolution?
JAYNE THOMAS WRITES: "I was traipsing along enjoying Valerie Adair’s accounts of her culinary capers (3/5) when I stumbled on a pile of turds: Gerson Therapy, Reiki, energy medicine. Arrrghhh!!! For a woman who seems curious and able to research issues, she exhibits a serious lack of critical thinking. These are all sheer quackery (www.Quackwatch.org; www.Sciencebasedmedicine.org) The Gerson therapy involves ingesting large quantities of fruit and vegetable juices, raw liver and using coffee enemas (!) for “detoxification”(unproven need), and other skeptical treatments. There are no well-controlled studies published in medical literature showing that the Gerson therapy is effective in treating cancer. The University of Texas recently identified 7 studies proponents presented at medical conferences, not one of which was randomly controlled. Reiki is a form of “energy healing” based on the false premise that some spiritual energy (called ki or chi or prana) flows through us and practitioners can strengthen or balance it by “laying on of hands,” similar to Therapeutic Touch which was totally debunked by a nine year old girl, Emily Rosa in her elegant, simple experiment in the mid-90s. This is pre-scientific thinking and no such force can be detected. Ms. Adair implies that her sister was cured of cancer by these therapies, but doesn’t say what cancer she had nor whether or not she had standard care. I am especially disturbed by the promotion of these modalities as cancer cures because my dearest friend, Michele J. was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2010 and with the overwhelming endorsement of her husband refused all standard treatment until two months before she died in 2012. Her treatment was the Gerson therapy, visualization, various energy sessions, etc. etc. Of course we should all have good nutrition, whether we are well or ill, but to not seek conventional treatment is ignorant. And, yes, we all know how horrid chemotherapy is. But I have one friend alive with just surgery after 15 years, another two with surgery, radiation and chemo, healthy after 12 years. All had breast cancer and the last two were also friends of Michele who would not listen to them. These are dangerous recommendations from Ms. Adair. I hope anyone influenced by her to seek such treatments will do the research that presents the studies showing their fallacies. (Dr. David Gorski, an editor at Sciencebasedmedicine.org is a cancer surgeon who is available for advice. He helped me immensely when Michele would try a new nonsensical therapy and I would email him.) And by the way, there is no such thing as “alternative medicine.” If it works, we call it “medicine.” If not, it’s “woo.” (Finally, to combat the type of thinking Ms. Adair exhibits is precisely the reason one of my 10 book recommendations was Carl Sagan’s The DemonHaunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.)
UPDATE ON A FAMILIAR NAME IN THE NEWS. The Medical Board of California has issued a 23-page decision regarding Dr. Milan L. Hopkins of Upper Lake. Hopkins faced disciplinary action because of alleged gross negligence surrounding his practice of medical marijuana recommendations. The brief summary of the stipulated settlement reads, “Five years of probation with various terms and conditions. During probation Dr. Hopkins is prohibited from supervising physician assistants.” The medical board case number is 20-2009-201791. The order becomes effective April 11, 2014, according to the medical board. In 2012, Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster publicly challenged as misleading local newspaper and radio marijuana-related advertising placed by Hopkins, 67. He had been placing advertising in local newspapers and purchasing radio spots offering to clear up the “confusion and misinformation” being spread by “newspapers and law enforcement.” Of particular concern to DA Eyster was Hopkins’ primary claim that his recommendations will protect people in any county from prosecution under state law for 99 plants and 19 pounds of processed cannabis, a claim that Eyster suggests was nothing more than bad legal advice.
LIVING IN THE HILLS IS GONNA COST YA. As the State's Fire Prevention Fee continues to be collected from the state's hill muffins, hill muffins defined here as the millions of people living beyond urban or suburban services, CAL FIRE is providing property owners multiple resources to answer their questions about the fee which, as we know, isn't exactly Pay or Burn, but the next best thing. Under the law, the Board of Equalization is responsible for collecting the fee. The bills scheduled for mailing this spring are for Fiscal Year 2013/14, which includes July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. The fee applies to the homeowner of record as of July 1, 2013, for all habitable structures defined as, well, far and away into the outback.
MENDO’S INCREDIBLE SHRINKING housing element. Back in 2002, Mendocino County Planners made a big deal out of going around the County to hold community meetings to take input on “affordable housing.” They presented a lot of fancy visuals confirming what we knew, i.e., there's little “affordable” housing in Mendocino County or, for that matter, anywhere else in our doomed land.
THE LEGALLY MANDATED “housing element” of the County’s long-delayed General Plan update. The few people who turned out to listen to this bullshit amused themselves by commenting, some of them earnestly. By 2004 the County's hard-hitting planners had finished their work and had boldly designated 90 unbuildable acres in Brooktrails, northwest of Willits, for development as “affordable housing.”
AS IMMEDIATELY NOTED out by Northcoast Legal Services attorney Lisa Hillegas when she surprised county staff by actually checking into the 90 acres and soon successfully sued the County for non-compliance with the state's affordable housing plan requirement.
ON TASK AS ALWAYS, Ukiah Daily Journal Editor KC Meadows wrote in 2005: “Expensive lesson for the County — we hope that Mendocino County has learned its lesson with the arrival of the $68,000 bill for the legal fees of public advocates who successfully sued the County, forcing it to do something it should have done without anybody having to go to court. Every county must have a general plan and the general plan must have a ‘housing element.’ Housing elements are, in part, mandated so that local governments are forced to plan for and create spaces for low and moderate income housing. This County’s housing element was way off the mark in identifying areas that would serve that purpose. The county said affordable housing could go in Brooktrails — but the land identified had no water or sewer. The County said affordable housing could go where the Hopland school is now. The county said some 70 homes could be built in a rural area near Gualala. The County was warned by the public advocates that it needed to make its housing element more realistic, but the county ignored them. So the advocates went to court with the state of California behind them. The County quickly corrected its housing plan, but not soon enough — the County has to pay the legal fees of the advocates. If the County had simply agreed in the first place with what they had to have known were legitimate complaints about the County’s housing element, no one would have had to go to court, and the County wouldn’t be writing a big check right now. County officials need to understand that sometimes when someone says you’re wrong, you are really wrong.”
IN HER SUCCESSFUL SUIT, Ms. Hillegas put it this way:
“Respondents [Mendocino County] concede that the County has few or no sites where 1,390 units of multi-family housing affordable to lower income residents can be built to accommodate the County's regional share of housing need during the current 2003-2009 planning period. This regional need, as determined by the Mendocino County of Governments, includes 746 units of housing affordable to very low income households and 644 units affordable to low income households. The County Housing Element acknowledged the lack of sites and was amended (after this lawsuit was filed) to include a program to provide at least 50 acres of sites suitable for lower income housing development by right no later than July 1, 2007. The California Department of Housing and Community Development granted conditional approval of the County's Housing Element subject to the express condition that this program be successfully implemented by July 1, 2007. The respondents concede that no sites have been rezoned and no housing affordable to lower income households has been built.”
IN A PURELY MENDO MOMENT, one of the depositions taken in Ms. Hillegas’s suit included a round of questions to then-Senior Planner Pam Townsend who explained why she thought the Housing Element was deficient and tardy: “[Planning Department Director Ray Hall] didn't review code amendments in a timely manner because I'd written code amendments after the 1993 housing element was adopted and they never got out of his 'in' box even though I asked him a couple of times.”
BY THE TIME HALL shuffled off to wherever he shuffled off to, his in-box must have been the size of Anton Stadium to accommodate all the un-acted upon County business in it. (Hall's a baseball fan so you can probably find him at the ballpark.) Anderson Valley’s General Plan “community input” was last seen in Hall's in-box before disappearing altogether. Townsend said many of her proposed code amendments “never went anywhere.” In fact, Townsend said most of her work “didn't really go anywhere” because of Hall's failure to review it. “Ray wasn't always good with wanting to do a lot of inter-division and department coordination,” the diplomatic Townsend said.
ASKED WHY SHE thought Hall didn't review her work, Townsend explained, “I think it was, I guess, you know, not a high priority… Maybe it was too overwhelming to him…”
SO IT WAS DOWN to 50 acres of rezone for affordable housing.
THE SUPERVISORS and the County Planning Department have never taken its General Plan or its Housing Element seriously, seeing them as entirely pro-forma paperwork exercises made necessary by state mandates. That approach works most of the time, but not with the Housing Element because attorneys like Ms. Hillegas can get their fees paid by suing the non-complaint county — never mind that there’s no real way to generate anywhere near 1400 units of “affordable housing” in this county.
IN 2008 THE COUNTY tried to switch to an “incentive-based” affordable housing plan which would give tax breaks to developers who included a small percentage of technically “affordable” housing in their development plans. (Never mind that Mendo is woefully slow in even processing housing development permit applications in the first place.) So that approach has, predictably, failed to produce any affordable housing, or even locations where affordable housing might be located.
SO IT WAS BACK to the Rezoning Maps again to satisfy Judge Henderson that the County was seriously trying to comply with the minimal zoning requirements called for in Ms. Hillegas’s successful suit. By this time the rezoned acreage had fallen to 24 acres because there are so few places in the County that can support large-scale housing development of any kind, much less “affordable.”
THEN THE 24 ACRES had to be reduced to 17.02 acres in Ukiah Valley only, just over the minimum specified in Judge Henderson’s ruling.
BUT THEN, just last week, supervisors John McCowen and Dan Gjerde recused themselves on the vote because McCowen owns property near some of those acres and Gjerde “had negotiated a lower rate at a Ukiah motel owned by one of the objecting landowners” — whatever that means. Which left the Board with a bare quorum of three supervisors to decide the issue.
WITH PINCHES DISSENTING, the Board then voted 2-1 to approve the recommended rezoning. Or did they? Later in the meeting Chair John Pinches returned to the item and McCowen and Gjerde dutifully recused themselves again. In the interim, someone had consulted the Board’s rules of procedure; it turns out that a majority of the Board is needed to take any action. Suddenly the two Supervisors who voted for the original motion — Dan Hamburg and Carre Brown — were much more interested in finding out what it would take to get Pinches to vote in favor of the rezones.
PINCHES IS A BIG BELIEVER in private property, meaning he pretty much thinks it should be the right of the property owner to do what they want with their property, whatever they want to do with it short of nuclear waste storage. During public expression a couple of landowners had come forward to complain that they were not interested in the “forced” rezoning being pushed on them by the County simply to satisfy the settlement agreement with Legal Services. But Hamburg and Brown thought they had the votes and no doubt were feeling the pressure to get the rezonings approved. Except now they needed three votes.
SO THE BOARD REMOVED the acres cited by their majesties the landowners to win Pinches’ support so they could get three votes in favor of the rezone. By that time they were down to a measly 15 acres (count 'em) of rezone. Acting County Counsel Doug "Midnight Rambler" Losak was telling the supervisors that he couldn’t assure them that the judge would be satisfied with such a low number. So the County will probably get hit with another fat legal bill as it struggles to come up with fictional low cost housing.
THE MAJOR PROB for the County is that it agreed to rezone property that was adjacent to sewer and water, but most of the County is on septic systems and most of the water districts are under moratoriums. And under current economic conditions, the County could rezone the entire County to allow Malvina Reynolds-style “little boxes” and multi-family “big boxes” from Gualala to Covelo and not a single unit of low income housing would be built anywhere. The County will continue to be an easy mark for Legal Services. (— Mark Scaramella)
CAN'T BE THE ONLY traveler to notice CalTrans' roadside spray policies, especially this time of year. Years ago, a Mendo eco-outcry persuaded Big Orange that we wouldn't tolerate the annual herbicide-drench of pavement margins. Turning the green optimism of spring to withered brown throughout the County was simply too much for thousands of us. And darned if Caltrans didn't stop doing it. In Mendocino County.
AS SOON as you cross the county line into Sonoma County, the roadside death stripes begin, sparing only the occasional clump of poppies, as if by sparing us the annual murder of the state flower Caltrans is telling us, We Care.
I REMEMBER a weird conversation with a Caltrans guy named Melendez, not that I've enjoyed what might be described as normal social intercourse with any of the rest of the Eureka office, especially CT's ineffable spokesman, Phil Frisbie. Frisbie, a few years ago, suddenly notified me that he'd taken the AVA off his press release roster because, get this, “You made fun of us five years ago.” (Wes? Wes Chesbro? You gonna let Caltrans get away with this?)
ANYWAY, MELENDEZ became quite animated in defense of roadside spraying. It's a matter of what he called “'encroachment.” Weeds, if they weren't thoroughly obliterated in the spring COULD TAKE OVER THE PAVEMENT! They had to be stopped, and it was his by god and gumbo duty to see that pavement won.
OF COURSE the chemical companies love roadside spraying. And Caltrans spends annual millions on herbicides, and this Melendez guy definitely believed in Better Living With Chemicals. Every spring, though, I send up a prayer of gratitude that the people of Mendocino County chose roadside life, and I haven't noticed the slightest diminution of pavement.
FLOOD CONTROL BY GRAPE GROWERS? The Russian River Flood Control District and Water Conservation Improvement District Board has five members: Former Ukiah-area Supervisor Richard Shoemaker, Ukiah Business Activist Lee Howard, Ukiah Grape Grower Judy Hatch, Ukiah Grape Grower Al White and Ukiah Grape Grower Paul Zellman.
IF YOU GET the impression that the grape industry dominates this board you may be on to something. From the title (which harkens back to the 1950 when the district was first formed), you might think that a flood and water district has something to do with Flood Control or Water Conservation. You’d be mistaken. Until recently the RRFC board’s meetings were held without anything like public transparency because there’s been enough water for grapes and ballparks and the taps were never dry. But when there’s a drought competition RRFC puts wine grapes as their first priority.
(NOTE: Last December, Director Zellman posted the following unintentionally ironic — and presumably legal — remark on his “sustainable winegrowing” blog: “Last week, I attended a holiday celebration for a local school in Mendocino County. Of course, everyone brought some of their favorite wines to share.”) Of course.
LAST WEEK, Ukiah Daily Journal reporter Justine Frederiksen published a useful story about the RRFC’s recent decision to sell 355 acre-feet of Lake Mendocino water to the Redwood Valley County Water District. Essentially, one group of grape growers had reluctantly voted to sell some of their precious frost protection water to other grape growers in Redwood Valley which has no real water rights — just some “surplus” water they used to get from Lake Mendocino (but not now with the Lake level very low).
MS. FREDERIKSEN'S report said that the 355 acre-feet RRFC was willing to sell would provide about 80 gallons per person per day, implying that the 355 acre-feet was for ordinary domestic use to help in the drought. The 355 acre-feet (about 116 million gallons) became available — to sell (at a price not mentioned by RRFC or Ms. Frederiksen) — because recent rains have brought the level of Lake Mendocino up a bit and allowed RRFC to ease up some on their drought-related conservation measures.
MS. F also reported, “[RRFC General Manager Sean] White said Sonoma County Water Agency will also make releases for frost protection in coordination with the flood control district and the Mendocino County Farm Bureau, although those releases may affect the amount of water available for late season irrigation.”
IN ANSWER to a question from director Howard about the legality of selling the water, Sean White replied, “I think this is an extraordinary situation and a lot of people are leaning on a lot of people to make sure that baseline needs are met.” (The “baseline” needs include frost protection and, later in the year, irrigation.) “There is a benefit for everyone in this agreement,” White added, explaining that the flood control district's customers were “getting less of a cut, Redwood Valley is getting water when before they had nothing, and we are getting frost protection when before we had none.”
“WHAT HAPPENS if we don't sell you that 355 acre-feet of water?” director Shoemaker asked Bill Koehler of the Redwood Valley County Water District. “In 60 days, we'll be out (of water),” Koehler said. “We're in a world of hurt, but at least we're getting something to our domestic users.”
KOEHLER didn’t explain how much of his about-to-be-purchased water will go to frost protection and how much to domestic use nor where the money would come from for the 355 acre-feet, but the implication is that frost protection comes first, then domestic users get some if there’s any left over.
HOPLAND grape grower (and County Planning Commissioner) Greg Nelson said he was concerned about the precedent the sale of the 355 acre-feet was setting, explaining that making his water supply, and that of other “flood control district agricultural contractors,” (aka fellow grape growers) less reliable could negatively affect their property values.
Translation: Grapes and the property values of grape growers are more important than domestic water for people.
GRAPE GROWER and RRFC director Judy Hatch said, “In the spirit of helpfulness, I would like to sell the 355 acre-feet to Redwood Valley, but I do not have enough legal information to support it.” Then she recused herself from the final vote to sell the 355 acre-feet due to an unspecified “conflict of interest,” which must have had something to do with her own grapes and water.
BUT RRFC Treasurer Al White, probably the omni-present wine booster, made no “conflict of interest” declaration, saying he agreed with Hatch about the possible unanswered legal questions, but that the board should move forward with the agreement while the legal questions were being answered. Translation: Let’s do whatever we feel like doing and worry about the legalities later.
IN THE END, the two remaining grape growers (after Hatch recused herself) voted with grape friendly Shoemaker to help the Redwood Valley grape growers (and domestic users, although we don’t know how much of the 355 acre-feet will go for domestic over frost protection) by 3-1. Only non-grape grower Lee Howard dissented.
THE NEXT DAY Ms. Frederiksen followed up with a story called, “Flood Control Board distances itself from trustee Howard.” Apparently Howard has committed the semi-crime of speaking to the State Water Board staff on his own. Al White declared, “[Lee Howard’s] actions created confusion and caused calls to the board regarding his actions. [With this statement], we're making it clear that questions [about Howard's comments] should be addressed to [Howard] and he does not represent the board.”
UNFORTUNATELY, because she only had the meeting contents to work with, Ms. Frederiksen did not report what Howard may have actually said to the State Water Board staff that upset his colleagues so much that they had to publicly distance themselves from it. But since Howard reportedly spoke to the Water Board’s chief enforcement officer and their water rights specialist, we can safely assume it involved Howard’s dissenting vote the previous day and his doubts about the legality of selling 355 acre-feet to Redwood Valley. Otherwise, why would the grape growers even care?
HOWARD said the whole discussion was an attempt to shut him up, unfairly censure him, and violate his free speech rights. Then Howard played a voicemail he got from Shoemaker: “You totally stuck your finger in the eye of everyone locally, and you totally alienate everyone in this area by doing that crap, and you're going to alienate this board as well.”
IT'S TYPICAL of Shoemaker (and many other local boards): Don’t speak out of school, don’t express dissenting views to anyone other than us outsiders. If you do, we’ll ostracize you and try to publicly embarrass you. But Howard's a feisty old boy, and the passive/aggressive authoritarians that dominate Mendocino County politics, don't intimidate him.
FOLLOWING HOWARD'S defense of himself, Shoemaker, White and Zellman voted to censure Howard and distance themselves from whatever they perceived as outtaline. Hatch voted against censorship of Howard. These kinds of petty disputes are always present in these little backwater (sic) bureaucracies. But they quickly rise to the surface when someone asks the grape growers to share frost protection water.
BACKGROUND: Back in 2010 when Ms. Hatch ran for re-election to the RRFC board she said she was running because she and her husband operate a vineyard as well as rental properties. Hatch said “it was a $50 water bill in an empty property at Vineyard View Estates (Millview Water District) that was one of the things that got me going. We had an empty estate and a $50 water bill. I just went on from there.”
OH THE INJUSTICE! Weep for the petit bourgeoisie, weep!
MRS. HATCH added for no particular reason, “We all should be working together.” But with her recent vote to censure Director Howard, Hatch made it clear that what she meant was something like the late film director Sam Goldwyn’s adage: “Consensus is when everyone agrees with me.”
ALSO IN THE ELECTION OF 2010, Al White said he belonged on the board because “one of the key issues I see for the district is securing the water rights that it has.” And, “One of the things that the district has worked on this year (2010) is building off-stream storage ponds to prevent lowering water levels in the Russian River as grape growers take water for frost protection.”
PAUL ZELLMAN is an assistant winemaker at Brutocao Cellars in Hopland. He said he wanted to be on the RRFC Board “to see the district continue to be a leader for agricultural water in Mendocino County” — i.e., for grapes.
What does any of this have to do with Flood Control or Conservation? Nothing. It’s all about the grapes. (— Mark Scaramella)
RRFCD OVERSTEPPED: Last week’s meeting of the Russian River Flood Control District was an embarrassing display of what happens when the elected leaders of a public organization lose perspective. Maybe it’s been the stress of a severe drought year, but the members of the District board who voted last week to issue a censure fellow member Lee Howard overstepped the bounds of their elected mandates.
HOWARD'S SIN, according to his colleagues, was to go to Sacramento and start asking questions about whether it was going to be legal for the District to give [sell] water to Redwood Valley Water District, when that district has no water right and is not a flood control district customer. They seem to think his mere presence in Sacramento implied that the Board was behind the questions and they concluded that he had no right to do it. Howard had a perfect right to do it. Not only is it a good question to ask — since there are lots of flood control district customers being cut back who may also be wondering if it’s legal for the flood control district to give [sell] water to Redwood Valley — but it’s an issue that frankly needed airing. But more important, Mr. Howard made it clear everywhere he went in the state capitol that he was not representing the flood control district. People he talked to confirmed that publicly. The flood control District board members say they are only making it crystal clear that Mr. Howard’s views don’t reflect their views. But that is exactly what Mr. Howard was doing in Sacramento. So if that’s what they’re doing, then how is he wrong to do the same? So the only thing left to wonder is why the flood control district is made so uncomfortable by someone who is asking questions. That, we think, is really what this is about. The flood control District is used to simply deciding what to do and doing it. This is not about whether Redwood Valley needs and should get some water from somewhere. Everyone — including Mr. Howard — believes they should. The question is whether it is OK to do it in an informal way, tossing aside concerns from lots of others, not just Mr. Howard.
— K.C. Meadows, Editor, The Ukiah Daily Journal (Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED pegs the Giants as a 4th place team, way behind you know who from down south. SI was brutal in its analysis of our Dear Beloveds. Writing as “a rival scout,” Rival Scout suggested that the two elderly acquisitions, outfielder Mike Morse and pitcher Tim Hudson were at the end of their careers, that Pablo was thinner but maybe not anymore durable than he was last season, that the bullpen was weak, especially with Romo as the closer, and so on. Then Rival Scout shocked me when he said about my fave, “Brandon Crawford doesn't have much speed and looks a bit thicker this spring, with range a half-step slower at shortstop.” A half-step slower? The guy gets an amazing jump. He's quick, not especially fast. Romo's fastball isn't overpowering but he always throws strikes and his slider gets guys out even though they know it's coming. I look for Crawford to have a big year at the plate. Belt, too. Morse? Maybe. But he does seem like another Pat ‘The Bat’ Burrell. They're basically the same team as last year but with Crawford and Belt much improved at the plate, another strong starting pitcher and maybe a revived Lincecum. Posey, Pence, Pablo, Belt, Crawford and maybe even the aged power hitter Morse. Injuries did the Giants in last year, but they're starting out whole this season and we will see what we shall see. Update: Call me a frontrunner. I deserve. I gave up on Monday's game in the 6th inning, and darned if Buster didn't bust one and win it in the 9th, 9-8.
HERE THEY COME! Tuesday, April the first, the invasion of wetsuits. The open season for the imperiled mollusk will run from April 1 through June 30 with a one-month closure during July to give the resource a breather, the thinking goes, at a time of year when the abalone take has traditionally been high. The season resumes on Aug. 1 and runs through Nov. 30. Which is much too long because the red ab is just about fished out.
UKIAH AND THE PALACE HOTEL, the love that has no name. Both the City and the owner of the derelict property, out of necessity, are operating on the assumption that the building can be fully rehabbed and restored to at least a semblance of its old glory. If the City stops pretending, the City will have to take the building down, a process the City doesn't have the money to do.
THE OWNER of the property, Eladia Laines of San Rafael, about whom lots of people have been skeptical, wondering at first if she was even the legal owner of the place and then wondering if she had the money to restore the building, has turned out to be a real striver.
ASSUMING MS. LAINES has the money to restore the Palace, she's thwarted at every turn by vengeful contractors and, now, asbestos removal regulations. A vengeful contractor sicced CalOsha on the guy who got the clean-up job when he didn't get it, and now Laines has to find someone qualified to proceed with the job. “We've had four different walk-through bids for the work that is being required by OSHA, and those bids are due Friday,” Laines recently told the Ukiah City Council. “We are looking forward to getting past this and moving forward.”
THE BUILDING was red-tagged last month when that vengeful contractor snitched off the guy doing the work to the state.
LAINES, according to the Ukiah Daily Journal, said that she had learned who had complained to OSHA, describing the person as someone who had “criticized” her contractor when she first hired him, saying “he didn't deserve to be working on this project.”
LAINES went on to say that after the building was red-tagged, this person called her contractor's home (Norm Hudson) and “left threatening messages on his home phone that were totally inappropriate and unlawful.”
ONLY “trace amounts” of asbestos have been found on the sample taken by OSHA. But the matter was nevertheless turned over to the County's Air Quality office, and there it rests.
SO, here we have a woman trying to do a very good thing for a town badly in need of architectural uplift not only stymied by bureaucracy at every turn, but her contractor is threatened and she has to go out and find one with the right license to do the work. She must have money and the patience of the Buddha to persist as she has.
ED VOICE OF REDWAY WRITES: "Here's what I've sent to the Humboldt County Planning Department concerning the Mateel's 'Reggae on the River': Maybe you have an opinion about Reggae on the River and what they are trying to incorporate in the watershed besides their 4 day music festival. I myself have never seen a commercial waste water leachfield system used in this scale below the ordinary high water mark or below the established line of vegetation of an Wild & Scenic River in California before, e.g., to treat an estimated 44,000 gallons of wastewater from a 4 day event. I also found out that the 37,000 gallons of wastewater the Mateel discharged last year in their onsite old and un-approved leachfields was not tested, so we have no idea. If this was such a great idea, why don't all the little community services districts do the same thing along the river from their wastewater treatment plants? It just seems to me, if someone really cared about the rivers and aquatic habitat, like the Mateel, why are they leaving this waste behind (out of sight, out of mind, leave no trace)? No one can say if this wastewater is getting into the groundwater or aquifer that could effect ESA, EFH or ESU species in the river, let alone humans. I cannot even begin to imagine what was in all that shower waste water from last year, and now you have 1000 more people being allowed to attend this 4 day event. It’s just unbelievable. It’s also weird that LACO would produce a report, without a written opinion (included in attachment)? I mean, have you ever heard that from 10,500 people, no one ever cleaned up from urinating, defecating or vomiting in a shower from camping, drinking and partying for 4 straight days and nights before? I'm sure there was only the very minimum allowable safe limits of human bodily waste and excrement in that shower waste water from last year, right? And even more planned from this year. How come no one else can fight this activity but me? The South Fork Eel River needs your help. Please write and say NO to leachfields in the South Fork Eel River!
Please send your reply tolisa.Bernard@waterboards.ca.gov, email@example.com, and matt.St.John@waterboards.ca.gov.
Please pass this email along to other people or groups that want to help defend the South Fork Eel River and speak for the species that cannot speak for themselves. Thanks, Ed Voice, Redway
EQUINE, the update: Chris Smith writes in the Press Democrat, "Mendocino beckons Michael Equine. He's the former drummer with Cat Mother, the band that curled up and purred on the Mendocino Coast after the wild ride of being cheated by a manager while opening for Jimi Hendrix on a national tour in 1968 and '69. Our recent story shared that Equine is now 73, homeless and living in his car in Santa Rosa. He says he was deeply touched by what several readers did for him. One paid to get his guitar out of hock. Another brought him a brand new practice amp. Yet another slipped him five $10 bills. “It's a good feeling to be remembered,” he said. Equine also has fielded a few leads on possible affordable rentals, including one or two in Mendocino County. He lived there, on the coast, for a couple of decades but left, he said, because the woman he loved died and everything there reminded him of her. He's feeling that he's probably ready to be again in Mendo, most likely to live out his days there. He figures, “My golden years shouldn't be me lying motionless in the back of my Jeep.”
THIS IS GROUND CONTROL
to Major Tom
You’ve really made the grade
And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear
Now it’s time to leave the capsule
if you dare
This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating
in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today
— David Bowie, “Space Oddity”
ON LINE QUESTION OF THE DAY. "Corporatism is the corruption of capitalism. There would not be such a thing as corporatism without the willing cooperation of our governing bodies. The revolving door that exists between the regulating agencies of our government and high paying corporate positions is ludicrous. The same agencies that are supposed to be looking out for the interests of all Americans are chock full of former corporate lawyers and management types that are now tasked with regulating, for the public good, the same industries that once paid them handsome salaries. How can we really trust the EPA, FDA, FERC, FRS or the plethora of other alphabet agencies appointed by our government to do what’s right in the interest of the public good when they have one hand in the pocket of their corporate masters?"
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY “I was recently down south in Palm Springs and Indian Wells, and you'd never know California is in a ‘drought state of emergency’ as declared by Governor Brown. Bright-green gold courses glowing in the desert; artificial ponds overflowing with water; fountains spraying 20 feet into the air; gushing waterfalls; water running down the sides of the streets. Meanwhile, we in the north are not flushing and are letting our gardens die. Is this fair?" (Mike Sherwood, Oakland)
MENDOCINO COUNTY LIBRARIAN RESIGNS (Press Release from County CEO Carmel Angelo): “Mendocino County Librarian Mindy Kittay has submitted her resignation to the County Board of Supervisors. Ms. Kittay is leaving for personal reasons and will be relocating out of the area. Ms. Kittay stated that she thoroughly enjoyed working with the County library staff and all of the wonderful volunteers, as well as the public....”
THAT’S EVEN LESS INFORMATION than we got when Ms. Angelo announced the abrupt departure of former County Counsel Tom Parker two months ago. Ms. Kittay didn’t even last for a year and a half, having been hired back in December of 2012 from a small library in Thornton, Colorado where she was not the librarian but the “Finance Director for the Anythink Library District, which was awarded the National Medal for Museum and Library Service in 2010.” THE NEXT DAY Ukiah Daily Journal reporter Tiffany Revelle provided some background to Ms. Kittay’s resignation.
MS. KITTAY, it seems, wanted to further library technology and she thought setting aside money for a new Ukiah library was a bad idea, especially if it came at the expense of upgrades to present services. Disagree on more library tech, agree on new library building. Ms. K also seemed to have the kind of personality that irritated a lot of people which, in the context of bliss-ninny Mendo is often a good thing, but didn't seem to be a plus in the context of Friends of the Library.
HEADLINE OF THE WEEK from Sunday's Chron: “Donations might have swayed votes in Legislature.”
THE HISTORIC Wilbur Hot Springs resort near the Lake-Colusa county line was mostly destroyed by fire Saturday morning. Lately owned by Dr. Richard Miller, a kind of new age therapist and audio woo-woo peddler for KZYX public radio, Philo, Wilbur Hot Springs began life as a respectable resort for city folks in 1863. In the 1960s, it was home to big naked hippie piles and, finally, under Miller's auspices, an upscale “clothing optional” consciousness repair shop featuring the hot springs along Sulphur Creek. Wilbur's archeo-psycho trajectory has been much like Harbin Hot Springs, which is in the same general area.
30 MINUTES TO UKIAH
Idling in an icy morning
and then the ride through
Dead Deer in the brown leaves
on the side of the road.
Vying for a place
on a two lane highway,
Cowgirls in monster trucks,
Methsters coming in from the East
Past the dried up lake.
Descending into the valley
past the billboards
"grab some buds"
Big old glass of red wine,
Where Ravens rule the parking lots
and another day begins as we
await the Gunman.
— Debra Snow, Ukiah