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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, May 11, 2014

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TWO PUBLIC COMMENTS at the April 22 Board of Supervisors meeting on the subject of the County’s mounting pension debt provide good examples of

1. How to say something, and

2. How to say nothing.

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“My name is John Sakowicz, speaking as a private citizen only. And I want to be crystal clear on that. Although I am on the retirement board, I am not speaking for the board. Thank you for this workshop. It's absolutely necessary. I along with probably every other person in this room agrees that the great driver of the county budget going forward and certainly the great driver of debt will be our county pension system. Here’s a fact that I want to share with you that came out at our last Retirement Board meeting: Our retirement system has a negative cash flow of $860,000 a month. $860,000 a month. So if you take what we pay into the system in contributions and what we earn on our fixed income portfolio — and then subtract that from what we pay out in benefits and administration of the plan, that's $860,000 a month. If you add that as a percentage to what we would have to make in terms of our actual rate of return you must add another 2.4% and I believe trustee Ted Stevens did that math in our last meeting to calculate our actual rate of return. So the true rate of return that we need to earn to break even is 10.15%. That's a fact. I would also like to review a couple of other things that need to be mentioned. Our unfunded pension liability as it now stands according to our actuary is about $133 million. GAASP (Generally Accepted Accounting Standards and Principles) 67 and 68 will cause us to have to restate that to about double that, to about $250 million. But the Society of Actuaries Report, the blue-ribbon report which I shared with the supervisors and which was also on the agenda of our last retirement Board meeting, the Society of Actuaries blue-ribbon report on public pension fund planning recommends that we completely de-risk the rate of return and bring it down to the ten-year treasury bill rate of return which is about 2.7%. It's called the forward rate of return. So essentially what that would mean is that the unfunded pension liability would be something more than $250 million. My point is that the horse is out of the barn. Not only is the system unsustainable but it may be broken. I don't know how to fix it. I don't think pension obligation bonds are the way to fix it either. And that in fact was one of the findings and recommendations in the Society of Actuaries blue-ribbon report. Pension obligation bonds are not the fix. You have to fund it in any given year with contributions from the plan sponsor and from county employees. If you don't you run the risk of what the Society of Actuaries calls generational inequity, and that's not fair to future generations. In fact Jared Carter, a local attorney, made that point during public comment at a meeting of the retirement board last year when it was pointed out. Thank you for this workshop. I look forward to a joint meeting between this board and the retirement board.”


“My name is Holly Madrigal. I'm a concerned citizen. [Laughs.] Supervisor Hamburg mentioned that this is a failing system and that is of great concern to all of us and our group, the group that provided you with a list of questions we would like to see answers to, this group is comprised from people all over the political spectrum, right and left, apolitical, because we really believe that this issue, this problem, is a problem of mathematics, not politics. It is sometimes suggested that our current predicament is due to simply the recession or low investment returns, when in fact it's more accurate to say that our core problem is structurally flawed financial management and a significant lack of accountability. We understand that some of our concerns that were raised in our report may be offensive to hear. Our purpose is not to blame the board, the retirement board, the employees, our purpose is not to vilify but to bring this issue out to the light, to try to get consensus on what the problem is so that we can address it, really seek to find solutions. It's part of our fiscal duty to provide that retirement security. I really do not want to see a repeat of the healthcare debacle that we had where employees were promised a benefit but then if the funding was not identified to actually make that happen and only after people had made decisions, life decisions on staying with the county, only then did they realize that benefit was not available to them. We know that John Dickerson has become a bit of a lightning rod on this issue and I just want to urge you all to try to look past the personalities, try to look at the signatures that we got, this is not one person who is worried about this. We have raised significant questions that need to be answered, and I think you too should try to seek answers and I think I am seeing that on the board. For example, how are we going to address these new GAASP rules? It sounded like a positive report on that impact on us but I'm really concerned that it is not going to be that positive. It’s gonna be staggering. How are we going to continue to provide these pension commitments to our employees when the debt keeps mounting and how are we going to avoid that burden becoming overwhelmingly put on taxpayers? I really see this occasion akin to being an alcoholic. [Laughs.] The first step is admitting you have a problem and that's really what we're asking for the board. Do you think we have a problem? Please answer our concerns. We will also come to the retirement board and to the joint session which we think would be really beneficial. But do you see a problem? And if so, how are we going to address it? Thank you.”

BOARD CHAIR JOHN PINCHES responded: “In the meantime, Holly, why don’t you go have a drink?”

PINCHES THEN SUMMED UP: “I think it's real clear, as the famous saying goes, Houston, we have a problem. I think that we are acutely aware of that and the reason for this meeting was to maybe start to form a basis on what we can do about what options we have. But ultimately it's the state legislature they really has the cure for this and I don't see that happening. We talk about the conflict, whether its members on the retirement Board or what have you. But let’s talk about the state of California. The biggest conflict there is your judges in California. They are the biggest recipients of the highest retirements in all of California whether it’s Calpers or County employees. So I don’t have any confidence that there’s going to be a fix coming from our state legislature or ultimately, if that's challenged, from the courts. So we have a problem and we have to work out an internal cure for this. This mounting debt is staggering and is only going to get worse. It will take some hard choices and tough decisions by the employer, the County, and by the employees too. If we don't get this retirement system on a sustainable basis it is not going to be good for anybody. It will not be good for the county. It will not be good for the taxpayers. It's not going to be good for the county employees. This is just a start to try to get this moving.”

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HAL AND THE PLEDGE, a reader writes: "Years ago, when Hal Wagenet was President of the Board of Supervisors and I was in the audience waiting to speak against the closing of the mental health crisis center, he began the meeting by asking me if I would like to "lead us in pledging allegiance to the flag?" I replied "You're asking the wrong person, I don't do that." I later wrote him a letter explaining how, for me, the flag represented America's dark side. It flew at Wounded Knee and at countless other massacres of Indigenous peoples. I said I would be glad to pledge allegiance to the Constitution, but to the flag? Never!"

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Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, the 25th of May, the Lion’s Club is doing their delicious Chicken and Tri Tip Barbecue at the Redwood Grove in the fairgrounds to benefit the Anderson Valley ElderHome!

Serving starts at 4:30 and these festivities continue until 7:30. 
New this year will be GRAB Bag Tables. You must come to see what this is all about. With the grab bags will be a select Silent Auction.

The music this year will be spun by DJ Pete! Come with your requests! He says he can handle them all!

Advance purchase tickets are $15.00 at Lemon’s and All That Good Stuff. Seniors (62+) and children (12-) are $12.00. At the door they will be $18 and $15. Children under 6 are free!

Bring your friends and family!

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PETER FIMRITE REPORTS in Saturday's Chron that "Scientists have identified a microscopic sea creature with a Jekyll and Hyde personality as the culprit in the death of tens of thousands of abalone three years ago along the Sonoma and Mendocino coasts, but they don't know how to stop the elusive critter from killing again.

"THE TOXIC red tide" in 2011 turned the pristine coastal waters into a graveyard, with the rotting carcasses of red abalone, sea urchins, starfish and other mollusks strewn along the shoreline from Bodega Bay and Fort Ross to Anchor Bay in southern Mendocino County.

"A TEAM of scientists and geneticists said this week that they used a sophisticated, new forensic genome testing technique to pin the carnage on a mysterious poison-producing micro-organism known as Gonyaulax spinifera, a species of phytoplankton virtually unheard of in this part of the world.

"Laura Rogers-Bennett, the senior environmental scientist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the creature is as bizarre as it is deadly. Its modus operandi, she said, is to suddenly appear in large numbers, produce mass quantities of deadly Yessotoxin and then retreat into tiny invasion-of-the-body-snatcher-type pods until ocean conditions are ripe for another rampage.

"One part of this organism's life cycle is when it becomes a cyst, like a spore or seed, that sits on the bottom," said Rogers-Bennett, who is also a research associate for UC Davis' Bodega Marine Laboratory in Bodega Bay. "When the environmental conditions become optimal - and we don't know what those conditions are - these cysts can burst out of their little seed pods and come back to life. The worry is that when they bloom we get these giant red tides."

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An MCN Listserve contributor calling himself “Dharma Researcher" responded to the recent item about the outfits of Lauren Sinnott and Supervisor Dan Hamburg writes:

The May 5 Mendocino County Today column had the following item, which made it into the Valley People column of the print version of the AVA. As it turns out, this report must be graded a D minus overall, with a B grade for describing the boots accurately, a F for describing the former Mayor's clothing, and a F for asserting she has "boy toys" and dresses them up. (The picture here was an older one.)

“FASHION NOTES. Passing through Boonville Sunday was Supervisor Hamburg with his lady friend and former Point Arena mayor, Lauren Sinnott. The visit was noted by our fashion correspondent: “Ran into the Art Goddess [Ms. Sinnott] and Dan Hamburg headed for Mosswood, ‘passing through’ town this morning. She wearing layers of ivory lace and ‘tards, as in leo-tards; a full short skirt with ruffled underslip — showing of course. And I can’t remember if she had her bra on the inside or the outside, but there was some sort of lacey corset-look going on there with a short western style jacket over that. The proud-to-be-from-San Antonio-chick outfit is her trademark, so that was nothing new, excepting that it looked a little more pastel Easter-ish in color. My eyes were mostly drawn to her flashy new probably Texas-made white, brown and turquoise long-shaft wingtip cowgirl boots, which were the best thing about the outfit. Hamburg I didn’t bother to notice excepting that if I would have looked at him directly I would have laughed, so I didn’t look at him. Out of the corner of my eye in passing I could see she’d fixed him up with some sort of funny event hat that looked like he was an adult at a child’s birthday party, although the hat was not dunce-shaped. She tends to do that to her boy toys — dresses them up foolishly for public events. I notice they often stand looking enslaved and uncomfortable next to her in the costumes she designs for them. There. Your fashion report from beautiful cloudy downtown Boonville. Where it was actually cool today. Off and on rain right now. Very clear with high cloud ceiling. The rain took the pollen out of the air, I see.”

DHARMA RESEARCHER: “On May 4th of this year, Hamburg and Lauren Sinnott were traveling through Boonville on their way to Elk's annual Pepper Martin community baseball game where Hamburg served as an umpire. For that, he wore black Carhartt's jeans, black sneakers, a white t-shirt, and at no time did a hat adorn his head. Sinnott was wearing a long, full, gathered-at-the waist white cotton blouse with big patchpockets and a button front.  Not low cut.  Bra inside.  She also wore a sheath-styled skirt (smooth, not ruffled or gathered) with a floral pattern, above the knee. Also, she was wearing a dress length black coat and tall white socks. The rookie fashion correspondent got the boots right. The former Point Arena Mayor, when I asked her about all of this, noted ‘I do not consort with boy toys,’ and reported further that she was ‘drawn to intelligence, wit, accomplishment and compassion.’  She likes the way that Hamburg dresses and feels he is ‘in no need for fashion coercion.’ Also, she did express some concern for the correspondent's eyesight.

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He wants to be

a brutal old man,

an aggressive old man,

as dull, as brutal

as the emptiness around him,

He doesn’t want compromise,

nor to be ever nice

to anyone. Just mean,

and final in his brutal,

his total, rejection of it all.

He tried the sweet,

the gentle, the “oh,

let’s hold hands together”

and it was awful,

dull, brutally inconsequential.

Now he’ll stand on

his own dwindling legs.

His arms, his skin,

shrink daily. And

he loves, but hates equally.

— Robert Creeley

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“BUT WHY had he always felt so strongly the magnetic pull of home, why had he thought so much about it and remembered it with such blazing accuracy, if it did not matter, and if this little town, and the immortal hills around it, was not the only home he had on earth? He did not know. All that he knew was that the years flow by like water, and that one day men come home again.”

Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again

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Let’s Call Out Institutional Insanities

by Ralph Nader

What are the signs that an institution is clinically insane? For over 35 years I have been trying to persuade psychological and psychiatric specialists and their professional associations to take up this serious subject for study and corrective suggestions. Alas, to no avail. They are totally occupied with the mental health of individuals.

One symptom of institutional insanity is when the mass media repeatedly goes wild covering offensive words, while ignoring systemic offensive deeds that reflect those words. In 2009, Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA Los Angeles Clippers, settled for $2.725 million with the Department of Justice for unlawfully excluding prospective African-American and Hispanic tenants from his apartment buildings. In comparison to the coverage of his racist words, this injustice received little news coverage.

This past week, all you heard was the endless replay of his private bigotry with whom many believe to be his girlfriend and all the condemnations by wealthy active and retired ball players and coaches. Where was their outrage in 2009? What about the tens of thousands of serf-laborers in Southeast Asia who slave away manufacturing Michael Jordan’s and LeBron James’ shoes?

In Malaysia, meeting with the head of state, visiting President Obama saw fit to comment on Donald Sterling. Yet, during his week of meetings with East Asian leaders, President Obama did not bring attention to that region’s main health threat to the United States — the deadly viral epidemics that could reach these shores as have other past lethal viruses. The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) could have benefited from some Presidential backing for greater resource cooperation and early alerts from those nations.

The media coverage of the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombings (3 fatalities, 264 injuries), was omnipresent while two recent alarming reports by the underfunded World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC warning of many more millions of deaths, that could result from over-prescribing of antibiotics leading to resistant superbugs, were given short shrift. WHO warned that our world is on the way back to the pre-antibiotic period, when there was little medical protection against bacteria and viruses.

This is not just a future projection. Every day more than 200 Americans die in the United States from health care-associated infections, such as hospital-induced infections, according to the CDC and other sources. Each day!

The first case of the deadly coronavirus from Saudi Arabia has reached Indiana where a returning visitor from that country came down with a little-researched virus called MERS. Traced to infected camels, this disease has taken the lives of one third or more of its victims, and has already resulted in about 100 deaths. Have you seen coverage in the media equivalent to recent political verbal gaffes or Hollywood celebrity misbehavior? Should this virus, already confirmed in a dozen countries, start moving to human-to-human transmission, “Katy bar the door!”

Mr. Obama’s navy is redundantly completing another aircraft carrier costing $12.5 billion. There are now twelve of these strategic white elephants, apart from their imperial force protection, while there are insufficient funds for countries to discover the genetic makeup of this virus or case-control studies regarding its pattern of spreading.

President Obama has proposed in his fiscal year 2015 budget all of $30 million for facilitates that could identify more resistant bacterial strains and communicate their resultant outbreaks and treatments. Apparently these very perilous, invisible “toxic terrorists” do not command the gravity and resources as do human terrorists or the insatiable demands of the weapons industrial complex.

There truly are no more fitting words to describe this grotesque inversion of priorities than “institutional insanity.” It also comes in the form of mass trivialization of the media’s selectivity. Serious and often timely public demonstrations and reports on widely perceived risks and existing harms are ignored. Just look at what fills national afternoon and network weekend television shows, using our public airwaves for free, no less. Look at the many pages of newspapers on sports, styles and celebrity woes, compared to the space devoted to letters to the editor or coverage of local and national civic activities that focus on improving the lot of humanity or solving widespread problems with available solutions. Too much “news” coverage is devoted to debauchery and fluff.

Neuroscientists, such as Antonio Damasio, have speculated that uncontrollable hedonism, which takes down individuals, may, at a societal level, behave in similarly self-destructive or dysfunctional manners.

Someday, I imagine, someone will organize a “national society of serious people” that can put this hedonistic corporatism on the nation’s table so we can examine its destruction of human potential and what we convey to our posterity.

We can start by asking why the corporatists — those most sensually exploitative institutions — can so often get away using, for free, our own commonly owned property (public airwaves, the public lands, the internet, the trillions of dollars of taxpayer research and development given to corporations) against the interests of “we the people” and, most cruelly, our children.

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

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by Tiffany Revelle

Seven state Legislature candidates discussed broadband, water rights, GMO labeling and fracking, among other topics, at the second debate held in Ukiah for the state District 2 Senate and Assembly races.

Four Assembly candidates and three Senate candidates fielded questions from a nearly full audience Tuesday night at the Ukiah Civic Center.

The first question was about how each candidate would help bridge the digital divide in Mendocino County by finding funds to bring high-speed broadband Internet service to the county's underserved areas.

"I am not actually a proponent for reliance on ... broadband, based upon hard science," said Senate candidate Larry Lehmann, a Novato attorney. He referred to a study on brain tumor risk among long-term cell phone users in the September 2013 International Journal of Oncology and a February 2013 letter to the superintendent of Los Angeles schools from a Harvard pediatric neurologist on the "significant damage being done to children from WiFi in classrooms."

Lehmann suggested using satellite as a less risky alternative.

"As to the so-called digital divide, this is a manufactured concept" that "didn't exist a few years ago."

Senate candidate Mike McGuire, a Sonoma County supervisor, said advancing broadband makes economic sense and promised to pursue the $100 million he said is available to the California Public Utilities Commission for rural broadband.

"Legacy carriers will not focus on Mendocino County," McGuire said. "We can't count on Verizon, AT&T or Comcast. There are maps out there that say 96 percent of the state (is) covered; we know that is simply not true."

Senate candidate Derek Knell, a Novato school board member, called the issue one of "equality," "fairness" and access to information. He said investing in broadband would create jobs.

Knell urged voters to elect representatives who won't side with the special interests "creating the regulations that make it difficult for smaller businesses to compete on this particular issue."

Assembly candidate Pamela Elizondo, a Laytonville environmental healing consultant, said, "Maybe I misunderstood the question," and went on to suggest that "the best way to solve the economic problems of our whole world" is to charge a one-cent tax on all transactions and to "use our taxpayers' dollars only to put people to work restoring our earth."

Assembly candidate Matt Heath agreed that broadband access is about information access and political expression, and added that "the burdensome regulations are actually what are stopping ... companies from coming into the area and adding broadband." He said he would advocate for opening up free markets to allow companies to compete.

"It's something I certainly need to know more about," said Assembly candidate John Lowry, former executive director of a non-profit. The cost of expanding broadband "comes either from exacting it from the companies; because they provide services ... other places, they have to provide them here, too ... or funding it directly."

Assembly candidate and Healdsburg Mayor Jim Wood called the digital divide "very real," adding that broadband is "critical to schools for education ... to business for economic development opportunities ... (and) to healthcare for telemedicine."

He recommended working at the local, state and federal levels to pursue funding for broadband access.

On the issue of supporting Mendocino County's water rights in the face of drought conditions, McGuire said while Willits and Brooktrails had recently been able to fill their reservoirs, the elected senator needs to "focus on additional assistance for Willits," and reiterated his position that Coyote Valley Dam should be raised to increase water storage by 100,000 acre-feet "for Mendocino and Sonoma counties."

McGuire said he is working with Mendocino County 2nd District Supervisor John McCowen to find the remaining $250,000 needed for a feasibility study to do so through the United States Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the dam.

Elizondo said the drought can be remedied by using the "$687 million the governor appropriated for drought control (for) putting people to work growing marijuana in our wineries that are wasting our land and water, and produce virtually no oxygen."

She elaborated, "We could put marijuana and other produce every three feet in every winery and water only between 5 and 6 o'clock in the morning."

Heath agreed with the push to raise Coyote Valley Dam, and added that the formula the ACOE uses to decide when to release water to the Russian River should be updated to include local weather forecasting.

Lowry agreed with raising the dam and localizing release control, and added that reusing water is also necessary.

Citing the Redwood Valley Water District's lost water application when a federal government official decided it was not "a big enough emergency," Wood agreed with the idea of local control.

"Federal agencies should not have that kind of control over our water," he said, adding that further efforts are needed to keep more water from going to Southern California.

Knell said he supports a bond measure scheduled to be on the November ballot that would address local and statewide water issues. Money to raise Coyote Valley Dam could come from the bond measure if it makes the ballot, he said.

Lehmann said he also agrees with the need to raise the dam and shift control over its water releases to local governments.

The candidates were asked if they supported labeling foods that contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and fracking (hydraulic fracturing of rock to extract natural oil or gas).

Knell said he supports GMO labeling and opposes fracking.

Lehman said he supports GMO labeling because the risks of GMOs are "greatly underestimated," and opposes fracking for many reasons, "including because the idea that we're going to be carrying on hundreds of large explosions underground next to the San Andreas Fault is just nuts on its face."

McGuire called GMO labeling "common sense," and promised his first legislative act would be a statewide ban on fracking, a practice he said wastes "millions of gallons of water" and pollutes water sources.

Elizondo said plastic packaging poisons organic foods and labeling GMO foods "is almost a waste of time," but added that "what we should do is pass laws that our government can't do anything bad to us." The audience laughed and applauded. She went on to address fracking, arguing that growing marijuana "everywhere" could offer a fuel substitute and a substitute for plastic packaging.

Heath opted for the free-market approach to GMO labeling, citing a restaurant and a grocery store that had independently decided to be GMO-free.

"We should give our money to companies that we agree with," he said. "We should not have the government come down and tell our companies what they can and can't do."

Fracking needs more study, Heath argued. "It's not a quick yes or no answer," he said. "I generally oppose it, but it's something that we need to figure out because we need more energy out of California."

Lowry said he supports GMO labeling and opposes fracking, adding, "If we're not going to pursue more petroleum, we're going to need to get much more serious about renewable energy."

Wood said he supports labeling GMO foods and "more than oppose(s)" fracking.

Video of the forum is available at On the "City Hall" menu, click on "Agendas & Minutes," and choose "Candidate Forum May 6."

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal.)

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by Dan Bacher

The Brown administration is stepping up its efforts to fast-track the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels, as revealed in a memorandum sent to Department of Water Resources (DWR) staff from DWR Director Mark Cowin on May 6.

Cowin said two new organizations will be established within the agency to implement the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) - a DWR BDCP Office and the Delta Conveyance Facilities Design and Construction Enterprise (DCE) - beginning June 1.

"While many milestones remain before a positive decision to implement BDCP is achieved, DWR must begin to prepare to carry out its critical role in the implementation phase of this important project, should a conclusion be reached to move forward," said Cowin. "To this end, we are establishing two new DWR organizations beginning June 1, 2014 - the DWR BDCP Office and the Delta Conveyance Facilities Design and Construction Enterprise (known as the DCE)."

"Undoubtedly, a number of questions will arise about how these two structures will mesh with our existing organization at DWR, and we will be working with you all to elicit your questions and develop solutions together. I look forward to your continued support as we enter into this exciting phase of the BDCP which will shape the future of Delta ecological restoration and water project operations," Cowin concluded.

Delta advocates criticized the memo for being the latest in a series of actions taken by the Brown administration to rush the construction of the peripheral tunnels before permitting of the process is complete - and before any financial plan or agreement to pay for the tunnels, estimated to cost $67 billion or more, is in place.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, said, "Permitting is not complete. There is no financial plan or agreement. The Implementing Agreement will not be released to the public until after the public comment period on the BDCP and its EIR/S is complete."

"Yet, DWR is moving forward to implement the project?" she asked. "They are trying to steamroll Delta communities which will be harmed by the impacts, and the people of California who will be stuck paying the bill for the boondoggle."

Carolee Krieger, Executive Director of the California Water Impact Network (CWIN), after reading the memorandum, said, "It sounds to me like DWR is going ahead full steam, facts or lack of facts be damned. They have no idea what the project looks like because they have not been able to do the drilling tests because the Delta landowners have won their lawsuits. So they (DWR) have no idea what problems they may face with tunnel construction; they have no real idea of the costs… only guesses."

"It sounds to me like the same thing the Third District Court said about paper water in our Monterey Agreement case…they are going on 'a wish and a prayer!'" she stated.

"And where in the State Water Project (SWP) contracts does it allow DWR to collect funds from the contractors for this BDCP/Twin Tunnel planning, as this is not maintenance but a huge new project?" asked Krieger.

The public review and comment period for the Draft BDCP and BDCP Draft EIR/EIS will run through June 13, 2014. Restore the Delta will host a "Public Comment Party" to complete more than one hundred citizens comments against the environmentally destructive peripheral tunnels on May 13, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Reserve at Spanos Park, Mt. Diablo Room 6301 W. Eight Mile Rd. in Stockton.

Refreshments will be provided. RSVP and letter writing information, language translators or childcare can be arranged: contact or call (209) 475-9550. (RSVP is encouraged, but not required.)

The water diverted from the Sacramento River through the tunnels would go to corporate agribusiness interests farming toxic, drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations in Kern County, and Southern California water agencies. The construction of the twin tunnels would hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations of the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

Below is the memo:

State of California California Natural Resources Agency

M e m o r a n d u m

Date: May 6, 2014

To: All DWR Employees

From: Department of Water Resources

Subject: Establishment of the DWR BDCP Office and the DHCCP Design and

Construction Enterprise

As many of you are keenly aware, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has been deeply engaged in the development of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) since 2006. Several DWR offices and divisions are currently working on BDCP, either as part of the Delta Habitat Conservation and Conveyance Program (DHCCP) or as part of the planning and analysis of the overall BDCP program.

We are approaching a critical juncture for BDCP as the planning phase reaches completion, State and federal resource agencies consider permitting decisions, and a more detailed financing plan is developed. While many milestones remain before a positive decision to implement BDCP is achieved, DWR must begin to prepare to carry out its critical role in the implementation phase of this important project, should a conclusion be reached to move forward. To this end, we are establishing two new DWR organizations beginning June 1, 2014 - the DWR BDCP Office and the Delta Conveyance Facilities Design and Construction Enterprise (known as the DCE).

First, a new BDCP Office will be established within the Executive Division. The initial focus will be the completion of the conservation plan while providing early coordination and transition to implementation of BDCP conservation measures 2 through 22, including, for example, tidal marsh restoration, Yolo Bypass fishery enhancement and urban stormwater treatment. This team will work to plan, manage, and integrate coordination among DWR’s various divisions involved with development of BDCP and initiate preliminary evaluations needed to implement BDCP. In addition, this team will play an important role in agency and stakeholder engagement needed to complete the plan. To help facilitate the completion of BDCP, including the needed close coordination with the Governor’s Office and the State administration, the office will initially be led by the Chief Deputy Director.

This office will lay the foundation for the implementation of BDCP, and once the BDCP is finalized, that work will be merged into the formal BDCP Implementation Office as is defined in Chapter 7 of the BDCP. This organization will likely be a multi-agency effort involving DWR or supported by DWR.

Second, a Delta Conveyance Facility Design and Construction Enterprise (DCE) will be established within the Department as a new program to support activities associated with design and construction of conservation measure 1, the Delta Conveyance facilities. The mission of this enterprise is intended to be limited to this singular focus, and the life span of the enterprise will be limited to the time necessary to complete construction of these facilities. The organizational structure and staffing of the DCE is envisioned to be somewhat unique in comparison to a typical DWR organization. It will be managed by a Program Manager under contract to DWR, and will be staffed by highly qualified individuals from within DWR, participating regional and local public water agencies, and private consulting firms. As part of DWR, it will have the capacity to issue contracts for consulting services as well as construction, using DWR’s authority and in keeping with all applicable State contracting statutes. Initially the DCE will be located in the Bonderson Building, but it is anticipated that it will move to another location to accommodate the growth needed to complete the design and construction of the conveyance facilities.

Undoubtedly, a number of questions will arise about how these two structures will mesh with our existing organization at DWR, and we will be working with you all to elicit your questions and develop solutions together. I look forward to your continued support as we enter into this exciting phase of the BDCP which will shape the future of Delta ecological restoration and water project operations.

Mark W. Cowin


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Boonville Farmers' Market is now open every Saturday, 10 - 12:30 am, at the Boonville Hotel. AV Solar Grange Mother's Day Pancake Breakfast this Sunday, 8:30 - 11:00 am at the Philo Grange. Hello Anderson Valley community, The AV Grange #669 held a food catering fundraser at BeerFest this past weekend. We have some leftover food that we are hoping someone might be interested in buying to help us keep our event costs down. Here are the items and their wholesale costs. Make us an offer! Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Hot Dog Rolls, 6 rolls per bag, 8 bags/case, $24 case, 7 cases available. Uncle Matt’s Organic Pulp Free Orange Juice, 59 oz. bottle, 6 bottles/case., $36/case, 4 cases available. Organic Valley 4% fat Sour Cream, 16 oz. tubs, 6 tubs/case, $18/case, 2 cases available. Organic Valley Whole Milk, 1 gallon bottle, 4 bottles/ case, $25/case, 1 case available. Organic Valley Mild Cheddar, 5 pound loaf, 2 loaves available, $35/loaf. Bubbies of San Francisco, Sauerkraut, 25 oz. jars, 12 jars/case, $58 case, 1 case available. Contact event organizer: Tim Ward

(831) 332-5131,

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Good Afternoon,

It is Spring and a very busy time in the AVHS Agriculture Dept. Below are some of the things we have happening. Goats kids are growing out and getting big fast. The laying pullet chicks have arrived and are doing well. The young birds should be ready to be picked up in 5 weeks. Just before school is let out. Hens are setting on eggs and chicks are hatching. Egg sales are going great. They are very tasty and only $4/dozen. We are working to keep up with the growing grass, mow, mow, mow. The plants for the sale on Saturday May 10th are looking great! We will be open at the high school from 9AM to Noon. Remember to bring a box to carry your purchases home. FFA members are getting their market animals to show at the Redwood Empire Fair this summer. I believe we will have 2 market goat, 2 market pigs, 2 market sheep, 3 poultry meat pens and 2 rabbit meat pens. It is going to be a busy summer. The sheep, goat and pig kids will also show in a show for their respective breed in late May and early June. The Horticulture class just planted a new raspberry patch on the farm. They did all the research on the growing needs of raspberries. We are looking froward to eating some berries this Fall. Once again the AV FFA is holding the Drive Thru Dinner on May 22nd. The menu includes tri tip, baked potatoes, rolls, green salad, and watermelon. Ticket are $50 for a dinner for 4 or $25 for a dinner for 2. FFA members are selling tickets now. You can also call the Ag Dept at 895-2514 to reserve your ticket. The kids are very excited about this fund raiser. We look forward to providing you with a great meal. FYI, we are also looking for a couple of people to help with the BBQ on Thursday the 22nd in the afternoon. :) The Junior High Ag students are planting the farms garden for the summer. Yesterday, they planted cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, and lettuce. We covered everything with crop row cover because of our marauding laying hens. Soon we will get a temporary fence up around the garden. Then the plants will be safe. Soon we will be planting out tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and a few other things. I am sure there are a few other things happening that I have forgotten about. I probably will remember just after I click on the send button. We are always looking for volunteers to help with projects. Let me know if you are interested. If you are on Facebook you can follow our happenings on the Boonville-Anderson Valley FFA page. Thanks for your support, Beth Swehla,

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Those interested in making value-added products might want to check out the Cottage Food Operations Workshop Series being offered by UC Cooperative Extension. There are two dates in Ukiah - May 15 and May 22. For more info:UCCE Mendocino 707-463-4495

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Kate Lee & Company — aka Mendocino Beacon and Fort Bragg Advocate — are at it again. Feeding at the public trough.

An editorial in her faux Chamber of Commerce Newsletter was visibly miffed at the low turnout of a recent public meeting to save our bankrupt hospital. The event was supposedly titled ‘New Directions in Healthcare’ sponsored by Mendocino Coast District Hospital. I’d never heard of any such meeting. So I Googled it. Guess what? It never happened.

No surprise. Kate Lee’s paymasters tried sneaking a ‘public meeting’ through on two days notice back in January. But word got out on the local List Serve, so the house was packed. With opinions the Chamber of Commerce didn’t want to hear. Solidarity! You’d never see that in Kate Lee’s fish wrap.

Instead, you’ll hear a nonstop PR campaign for another parcel tax initiative. Paid for by local taxpayers. Complete with fake public meetings. Administered by the Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce. In complete darkness. Courtesy of Kate Lee.

Another surprise is a so-called survey for that initiative. The results have already been decided. The outcome will appear on November’s ballot. Pumped up six figures in advertising dollars from you and me. Once again, the local hospital will be on the pass line. With your money. Thanks to Kate Lee.

People on the Mendocino Coast got by without a hospital district for more than a century. Air ambulance memberships from Reach and CalStar are more affordable than ever at about $40 a year. Now the best health care on earth is only thirty minutes away. You won’t see that in Kate Lee’s pork barrel newsletters.

According to the Mendocino County Clerk, Katherine Elizabet Lee arrived in Mendocino County in the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and eighty-four. Not registered as a Democrat or a Republican, but as something else. Right. Within fifteen years, she was running all the local newspapers. Check. As the once robust public forum went silent, the local Chamber of Commerce boomed. I’m not suggesting a connection here. But it’s curious how the upsurge in Kate Lee’s career path coincides with a decline in Mendocino’s public forum. Cause and effect. Uh-huh.

Oddly enough, Kate Lee’s arrival matches precisely with the granddaddy of all pork barrels, the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation. A membership organization to support the local hospital? Or the local Chamber of Commerce?

Think Winesong! I’ll drink to that!


Scott M. Peterson, Mendocino

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  1. Trelanie Hill May 11, 2014

    Mr Sakowitz,
    Say it, the County is essentially bankrupt. You know it, we all know it. The only way out of this insolvency is to dissolve the pensions. One day it will happen, the County just can’t live in financial fantasyland forever. The current Supervisors will blame it on the previous Supervisors, the future Supervisors will blame it on the current Supervisors. The leaders can blame it on the State and the Federal governments, but the responsibility is on all of us. No one wants to tell the truth. The County of Mendocino is bankrupt. We can’t pay our obligations , we borrow to pay interest, we are leaving our children with huge debt. Tell the truth. It’s about time.

    Just my opinion,
    Jim Hill
    Potter Valley

    • Helen Michael May 11, 2014

      Jim Hill, the county is NOT broke. They have a reserve of approximately 10-12 million including a contingency fund, and underestimated revenues and overestimated expenses. The employee pension fund is actually fully funded for the next 26 years if no one does anything else from now on. Everything you stated is perpetuating the conservatives’ myth, trying to make the public believe it in order to privatize public employee pensions. I guess if it is repeated enough times it becomes true? Not.

  2. John Sakowicz May 11, 2014

    Hi Jim,

    It’s not my place to comment on county finances, except to say that aa 25-30% reduction in the county’s workforce, and a 10% salary cut for the county’s remaining workers, has allowed the county to more than balance the budget — we now have built up $8-9 million in reserves; we have also eliminated short-term borrowing, known as COPS, and have otherwise seen the county’s credit rating upgraded.

    That said, there is no answer to the county’s growing unfunded pension liability. Demographics couldn’t be worse. We now have more county retirees, about 1,200, than we have county workers, about 1,050.

    And the Society of Actuaries, Blue Ribbon Panel on Public Pension Funding, is calling for a “target rates of return” that is more conservative and realistic.

    See my article:


  3. Mark Scaramella May 11, 2014

    Thank you, Mr. Hill for that rather stark and unhelpful opinion.
    The problem could be greatly reduced by simply negotiating (or imposing) a cap on pensions, both existing and new. Mr. Stevens could do the math so that the cap is set to compensate for the $860k a month he says they’re bleeding. Too many high-paid county officials are getting pensions that are way out of proportion to their competency, tenure or position. (Former Sheriff Tony Craver, for example, is getting more than $100k in pension and disability payments per year and has been since the 90s. There are dozens of others up near that amount. They piggy-backed on the more modest pay raises given to line employees in the 90s.) Most of the county’s pensioners are not getting that much in pension benefits because they never earned that much for that long and they shouldn’t be penalized because some high-paid retired officials gamed the system to their own advantage. Some of the high-cost more influential pensioners (like retired Treasurer Mr. Knudsen) are part of the retirement board, and they, of course, are defenders of the red-ink status quo.
    Yes, let’s tell the truth, the truth that the self-serving overpaid officials are avoiding. Let’s point out that a relatively small number of overpaid retired (or about to retire) bureaucrats are the primary cause of the problem and their pensions must be reduced to a level that makes the system more or less solvent. We’re pretty sure the poor babies will still have enough to survive on at, say, no more than $50k/year. These overpaid retirees do not need pensions that are higher than the average annual pay of a full-time county worker. (And if they go back to work for any government agency after retirement, that pay should be deducted from their pension.) Unfortunately however, so far, nobody’s even asked for a breakdown of highest paid pensioners and how much they’re costing the County.
    You may recall that Supervisor McCowen was brave enough early in his tenure to put the pay and (generous) benefits — including pensions — of the Supervisors themselves on the Board’s agenda. Supervisor Colfax screamed and bellyached like a stuck pig, griping for himself and many of his fellow bloated pension parasites, and giving voice to their attitude that many of those other retired officials would never be so bold to say in public. And most of them make a lot more in pension benefits than Colfax does.

  4. Helen Michael May 11, 2014

    “Unfunded liability” is another way to say longterm debt, like a home loan. Of course most people don’t have the cash to pay outright for their home. Their mortgage is unfunded liability. They owe it and pay it in installments but if the loan was called in they wouldn’t have the cash. That is the same thing with our pension. It is owed long term and paid in installments. And if it were called in we don’t have the cash to pay it all at once but who could? Who is going to call in that loan to be paid all at once? It is a false issue intended to do away with public pensions and privatize them.

  5. Trelanie Hill May 11, 2014

    Mr. Scaramella, You are most welcome.
    Don’t blame the pension problem on the higher earning retIrees . They didn’t make the rules and legislate or instigate pensions. They just participated in a system set up by the voters of Mendocino County. They have little interest in renegotiating their pensions after keeping their end of the deal. Putting a cap on them like you suggest, seems like theft to me. We already took their retiree health benefits so maybe stealing some more of their deferred pay is alright with you. I think if you hire someone and agree to take care of their retirement you should keep your word. Maybe you don’t. I don’t think their pensions should be decided by you and how many dollars you think they need even if they are babies like you stated.
    I disagree that the County budget is balanced when liabilities remain unfunded. If we cant fully fund our retirement obligations we are just using accounting tricks to describe our budget balanced.
    There is an answer to the growing unfunded County liability John and nobody wants to say it………. because the truth doesn’t feel very good.

    Just my opinion,
    Jim Hill
    Potter Valley

  6. Mark Scaramella May 12, 2014

    Make up your mind, Mr. Hill.
    First you say, “The only way out of this insolvency is to dissolve the pensions.”
    Then you say, “I think if you hire someone and agree to take care of their retirement you should keep your word.”
    I simply proposed that we “tell the truth,” and publicize these ridiculously high pensions and focus on capping them — not the line employees whose pensions are modest and not the primary problem.
    Then we abolish (or at least let them expire) the oxymoronically named “Management Bargaining Unit” contract and “Department Head Bargaining Unit” contract which clearly were gamed to take advantage of the line-employee salary bumps, and make all the exempt bureaucrats at-will as they should be. Then force pay cuts on them like the County did for the line employees, and down come their high pensions, for a start.
    There’s more along these lines too, but one step at a time.

    • Trelanie Hill May 13, 2014

      My mind didn’t change. I think the pension system will fail in Mendo just as it failed in Detroit, Vallejo, San Bernardino, Stockton, San Jose…etc

      The County Supervisors should honor their commitment to retIrees .

      Pointing out and identifying a system setup by elected officials that mathematically will fail doesn’t imply that I think pensions are wrong, just unsustainable with the current contributions.

      Can I not believe that the County refuses to fully fund the retirement system and juggles their accounting to hide their unsustainable system? And at the same time believe the County should honor their commitments?

      I just have difficulty running around shouting the County has a budget surplus and is prospering when I and anyone else that spends much time analyzing the math realizes that the County is under funding the retirement account. The result of under funding the retirement account is that retIrees are going to get cheated one day when the money that was supposed to be allotted to them was spent other places. The other result of under funding the retirement account is the Supervisors get a big pat on the head for such a wonderful job of balancing the budget.

      Now, if the County will deposit an extra $860,000 a month into the retirement account the pensions will be paid.

      I have heard no one suggest this solution. Why not? That’s right…because we all know we just won’t afford that.

      To put it in easier terms,, the County politicians elected by the County citizens wrote a check for retirement that we just can’t cover. An overdraft if you will.
      When will the checks start bouncing nobody knows. If you were a retiree with a health care plan, that check already bounced.

      The only way out I see is to file bankruptcy and legally alter the retirement obligations. The underfunding makes the County insolvent. We are defaulting by refusing to fully fund the retirement account.

      The County will file bankruptcy, it’s just when.

      Just my opinion,
      Jim Hill
      Potter Valley

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