Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mendocino County Today: Monday, September 15, 2014

* * *

LOOKS LIKE CALFIRE is having much more success at the outset of the potentially catastrophic fire off of Black Bart Road -- about three miles northeast of Lake Mendocino (toward Potter Valley) which they are now calling the “Black Fire” -- than they did at the much bigger Lodge Fire outside of Leggett last month. Clearly, although the fire may be at least as intense as the Lodge Fire, road access is much better which probably contributed significantly to the reasonably fast response and early major containment.


On Sunday evening at 6pm CalFire reported, “The fire is burning in a mix of grass, brush, oak and pine trees. Firefighters are working in extreme conditions; high heat, low humidity, with the potential for erratic winds. Firefighters are aggressively utilizing resources to construct containment lines, extinguish hotspots near the containment lines and defend structures. The Evacuation Order has been cancelled. The American Red Cross has officially closed the Evacuation Shelter at Eagle Peak Middle School. Red Cross representatives have advised that it can be re-opened, should a need exist.”

The 417-acre Black Fire which started on Saturday, September 13 (cause: “under investigation”) is already at 50% containment. CalFire reports that there have been three injuries so far and five significant structures (of unspecified type) destroyed on top of five outbuildings destroyed. 30 fire engines have been dispatched with ten crews backed up by four bulldozers, two helicopters and five water tenders — a total of 322 people are working the blaze.

“Please visit for information on how to prepare for an evacuation,” adds CalFire ominously (considering the drought on top of the usual high fire danger this time of year.)

Fire Information Line: (707) 459-7425

* * *

EARTHQUAKES IN COVELO? At 1:17 p.m. Sunday afternoon a magnitude-3.5 quake, whose epicenter was 4 miles deep, hit 6 miles southeast of Covelo.

* * *

LAST FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 the Ukiah Daily Journal ran a lengthy front-pager by Karen Rifkin — “Ortner reports on mental health care in Mendocino County” — that praises Tom Ortner and his Ortner Management Group (OMG!) but provides no particulars besides a buzzword-laden description of an entirely theoretical screening process that may or may not actually exist because Ortner doesn’t provide any actual data on what they’re doing. Worse, nobody in Official Mendo has asked for any and, as we're constantly repeating, this sale of a public service to a private contractor (Ortner) is worth, at a minimum, $7 million tax dollars a year.

WHY did Ms. Rifkin’s puff piece appear now? Could it have to do with the complaints that have arisen in the wake of the Grand Jury’s report critical of the deal and the cover-up response to the GJ by the Board of Supervisors? Who came up with the idea of a puff piece on Ortner at the moment that Ortner and his former senior employee Tom Pinizzotto were coming under scrutiny for the sweetheart deal Pinizzotto engineered for Ortner? We thought maybe “Karen Rifkin” was Ortner's pseudonym, such was Rifkin's prolonged hymn to Ortner.

WE THEN RECEIVED a copy of the following email:

From: Tom Pinizzotto <>

Subject: Re: iCMS Ft. Bragg Access Center

Date: September 4, 2014 2:15:39 PM PDT

To: Mark Montgomery <>, Todd Harris <>

Cc: Carmel Angelo <>, Dora Briley <>, Dan Gjerde <>, Kristina Grogan <>, Dan Hamburg <>

Hi Todd and Mark,

Great news that the Fort Bragg Access Ctr is operational!

I would like you to collaborative [sic] with Kristina on a press release and a news story.

On another front, the site is approved for Medi cal reimbursement effective 9/3/14.

Nice job!


APART FROM Pinizzotto’s crude prose, let’s look closely at his chummy little message: The “iCMS Ft. Bragg Access Center” (Integrated Care Management Solutions) is a newly created buzzword-name for a newly created operation in Fort Bragg created by Ortner with which Ortner subcontracts for mental health services on the Mendocino Coast. (Ortner had very little in the way of mental health services on the Coast besides what little was already there when they got the contract — not that that gap presented a problem to Pinizzotto and his fellow proposal review staff — and lots of people have been complaining about it ever since.)

MARK MONTGOMERY and Todd Harris are Ortner’s (“”) top guys in Mendo, the guys who the County pays to regularly appear before the Board of Supervisors to tell the Board of Supervisors what a great job Ortner is doing.

WE ARE ALREADY FAMILIAR with CEO Carmel Angelo, Supervisor Dan Gjerde and Supervisor Dan Hamburg. But who are Dora Briley and Kristina Grogan?

THEY are “Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency Communication Coordinators.” (In case you were wondering, Yes, it takes two of them to “coordinate” the “communications” coming out of the HHSA.)

LET'S ALSO NOTE who’s NOT on Pinizzotto’s interesting list of recipients: Stacey Cryer, Pinizzotto’s boss, is conspicuously missing (which means that Mr. P assumes he can send out these notes without bothering to notify, much less get permission from, anyone above him). And the two County Supervisors Pinizzotto includes happen to be on the Mental Health Board (and therefore need to be kept on the reservation at all costs). No Supervisor Pinches, no Supervisor McCowen, no Supervisor Brown, no members of the Mental Health Board. They don’t get to know that Mr. Pinizzotto thinks it’s time for a “news story.” (Paging Karen Rifkin. Karen? Pick up, please.)

ALSO NOTE THE DATE on Pinizzotto's e-communique — September 4, 2014. (Thursday).


ON SEPTEMBER 4th Ortner’s former employee, Mr. P., who also happens to be Mendo’s Mental Health Director, sends a note to Ortner’s top Mendo people and Mr. P's county-employed top two propagandists to suggest that they “collaborative” amongst themselves to work on “a press release and a news story.”

ENTER MS. RIFKIN. She's already proven her loyalty to the Ortner-Pinizzotto-Briley-Grogan axis with her previous Ortner puff piece in the Journal on August 16. Rifkin duly produces the requested propaganda piece, er, “news story,” for the Journal of September 12.

AND NICELY closing the loop on this incestuous, self-serving little circle, let’s note the last sentence in Ms. Rifkin’s “news story”: “For more information, contact Kristina Grogan, HHSA Communication Coordinator at” — a phrase that Ms. Grogan uses to finish off her own press releases.

THE PIECE that Ms. Rifkin produced — it would be a mistake to assume she “wrote” it — is nearly unreadable, of course, having been cobbled into existence from talking points and psycho-jargon devised by Montgomery and Harris, plumped up with self-serving quotes from Mr. Ortner himself — (and this inadvertently revealing sentence: “The unique affiliation between Ortner's agency and Mendocino County, the first county to outsource mental health services to a private company, continues to evolve.”) It probably won’t be read by many people outside the insiders who are already on-board the Ortner-Pinizzotto train. But that doesn’t matter, because the real point of the piece is for Pinizzotto to prove to his pals at Ortner that he’s their guy in Official Mendo. He can call up his staff and Ms. Rifkin and lickety-split they'll have a free ad for Ortner disguised as news whenever the skeptical public seems dangerously close to smoking out the truth about all this double-dealing, double-dealing at the expense of the mentally ill.

STAY TUNED for more from Ms. Rifkin: Ortner and Pinizzotto must now realize that they may be in for at least some of the scrutiny they have avoided so far. And Ms. Rifkin’s services, transparent as they are, will be called upon again.

* * *


Just read The Mendocino County Today (today's) section on the Rifkin puff piece about Ortner. Excellent.

Only tiny misspeak in AVA piece: Gjerde is not a BOS rep to the Mental Health Board (but should be, instead of Hamburg). Gjerde was most likely included in Pinizzotto's memo because he is Supe for Fort Bragg area.

The in-Ortner and Pinizzotto's-face irony of the memo is the very next day was when a Fort Bragg PD officer had to sit in ER for hours waiting for an Ortner subcontractor to respond to a suicide attempt crisis. The clear implication of that being: Ortner does not have anyone in its employ on the Coast to respond on a Friday afternoon/evening.

* * *

MEASURE S will be on the November ballot. It's the Mendo-specific, anti-fracking initiative that some 6,000 County people signed to qualify for the ballot. We're all for it and suggest readers have a look at the basic info at the Measure S website

* * *

SATURDAY NIGHT'S bull riding event at the Boonville Fair began with the first rider Michael Moore of Windsor strapped to a bull called Ira Hayes. Ira wins. “Big round of applause for Ira, ladies and gentlemen!” Next bull's called Back Alley: “How would y’all like to put y’all’s mother-in-law on that bull?” the announcer says. The crowd goes wild. Meanwhile down at gate No. 3 we’re ready to go, but a cowboy from Ferndale barely makes it out of the chute. A Redwood Valley wrangler, Chris Mathews, riding a bull called Bowline, and Mathews stays on and on, and he wins the championship as the judges score him at 79 points. We're told that young Mathews is now one of the top rodeo competitors in the country.

* * *

INCLUDED IN SUNDAY'S FAIR PARADE, always a lively affair, was a small truck with a sign that said, “Mendocino County Supervisors.” The only Supervisor on the float was 5th District Supervisor Dan Hamburg, cuddled up against his girlfriend, former Point Arena mayor, Lauren Sinnott.

* * *

FROM MATIER AND ROSS: "If you're wondering why health care costs are going sky high, one reason may be the multimillion-dollar skyboxes that two of the Bay Area's biggest “not-for-profit” insurers have bought at the 49ers' new stadium.

Blue Shield of California and Dignity Health each own Levi's Stadium luxury suites, which go for at least $2.5 million apiece.

Dignity, the San Francisco outfit formerly known as Catholic Healthcare West, is also the Niners' exclusive health-industry sponsor. It's spending big time to advertise in and around the new Santa Clara stadium as well as on game broadcasts. There's even a "Dignity Health Plaza" at one corner of the $1.2 billion stadium.

“It's scandalous that two not-for-profit health care companies that are exempt from state taxes waste millions of dollars on luxury skyboxes rather than putting those charitable dollars toward patient care or lower premiums,” said Jamie Court of Consumer Watchdog, the group behind Proposition 45 on the November ballot — an initiative that would require California health care companies to get approval from the state insurance commissioner for rate increases.

Dignity officials said in a statement that they were "proud to be the official health care partner of the San Francisco 49ers." They noted that the company "is sponsoring the first-aid clinics located throughout the facility and will be hosting several special health and wellness events throughout the season."

The statement added that "in today's highly competitive health care market, the sponsorships also provide positive visibility and recognition for the Dignity Health brand and the services we provide."

In the meantime, Prop. 45 proponents — with TV cameras in tow — showed up Thursday outside Blue Shield's San Francisco headquarters with a tongue-in-cheek demand from 22,000 customers for tickets to Niners games.

The Prop. 45 folks also tried to buy advertising at Sunday's game on the Jumbotron at Levi's Stadium to tie Blue Shield's skybox to “excessive premiums” and tell fans that the health insurer “has a better view than you.”

The Niners rejected the ad.

“We don't sell individual ad space,” said team spokesman Bob Lange, telling us that it's strictly reserved for their media partners.

However, Sheri Sadler, an ad buyer for the Prop. 45 campaign, said she was told by an ad rep in an e-mail that “the 49ers are a little reluctant to promote one side or the other (of a political issue) so as not to alienate fans.”

ON-LINE RESPONSE: “I am so glad I am no longer a member of Blue Cross. Their 20% rate hikes per year with no limit was destroying my family financially, and every month they would send me a report about what services they were cutting or charging more for and covering less. When I turned 45 they wrote me a ‘cat eating the canary letter’ saying how happy they were that I was turning 45 and they could increase my premiums 10% more than their usual 20% annual increase! Oh and that they were raising the deductible by another couple of hundred dollars. And of course (in the days before Covered CA), they reminded me that because of my pre-existing condition that I would never get insurance anywhere else and if I left BC, me and my family would be as good as dead. Then last October they canceled my plan without giving me any options and the next three months were hell. But I am ‘glad’' for them that they have so much extra money that they can afford a $2.5 million luxury box at the new stadium. I wish we could have a war on these insurance companies…”

* * *



by Tommy Wayne Kramer

Reports are circulating that former city mayors Mari Rodin and Mary Ann Landis have been contacting potential financial backers in an effort to purchase the Ukiah Daily Journal; they have said they are “willing to take over as co-editors” of the paper. The following Three Act Play imagines their regime:


Mari Rodin: We did it! We got it! A million dollars! Oh, Doug Bosco and Pete Golis rock! The Press Democrat is like giving us this grant money because we’re doing good!

Mary Ann Landis: Exactly! We’re giving back to the community by paying it forward. We’re going to create a sustainable, vibrant communication model that serves those less fortunate. It’s like karmic. Being new editors reminds me of when we were little kids and we got to put on those shows — remember? Your mom made the costumes and my dog was the pony and we did that really neat variety show out in the barn behind the Fetzer Ranch. I sang “Over the Rainbow” and you wore your Wonder Woman costume for the very first time. How exciting!

MR: And this is even better! This is even more exciting than when we were on the city council, which really rocked, at least for the first few weeks before we had to read all those reports and stuff. But we sure got to go to a lot of conventions and tell people we were mayors.

MAL: We’ll still get to go to a lot of seminars and conventions, except now we’ll mingle with hot journalists, like from the New York Times and Seattle! Do they have a newspaper in Seattle? I hope so — we could go up there and see how editors there do stuff, like what they wear and how much they tip at those sidewalk cafes and stuff. And the editing part too, of course.

MR: Right. But first we have to go to work. Monday’s the big day. It’s our red carpet moment, our coming out party to bring new journalism to Ukiah! Rip out the front page! Make way for a real story—US! I can’t wait!


MR: …and new carpet in my office, and it has to match my outfit and my new desk and the leather chair that’s getting delivered tomorrow. And lamps. This fluorescent stuff makes me look old. We’ll need stained glass lampshades. And dimmer switches.

MAL: An espresso machine in the editor lounge, that’s mandatory. And valet parking. And where are the keys for the company cars? Does Prius make a limousine? And who are those people? Did someone leave the door open and the homeless got in? Where’s security?

MR: I’ll call Chris Dewey. Oh wait! Maybe they’re reporters — I see Justine what’s-her-name over there. The one who used to write mean-spirited things about us. I thought when we got rid of KC Meadows that she’d leave too. But I’m glad, actually, because it will be fun to fire her.

MAL: I know! Let’s fire EVERYBODY! It’ll be so killer! I mean, we’re a corporation now so we can downsize and outsource and do that bottom-line thingie like in the movies. Line up everybody in that advertising department and I’ll make the announcement! A new broom sweeps clean and all that. And the people delivering papers — we need to get workers loyal to us. We can hire all our old campaign volunteers for jobs like that. We should keep Carol Brodsky and Karen Rifkin though, because they’re nice and they share our vision.

MR: (Phone rings.) I don’t know, let me ask Mary Ann. Hey do you know anything about a deadline or something? It’s some guy in a printing press. Whatever. Says we missed it.

MAL: Men! Always trying to tell us what to do because they’re afraid of strong independent powerful women breaking glass ceilings. Is “deadline” a threat? Is it harassment?

MR: I’ll ask the male person who used to be my significant other. Maybe he can get a warrant or a restraining order or something. I know a lot of important people, you know.

MAL: Me too. That’s how we got the Press Democrat to buy us the Journal, remember?

MR: Which reminds me — we should start doing the journalism part at some point. I think we need to assign stories or make pictures to show Ukiah in a positive light. Do we still have picture takers and story people writers or does the Press Democrat do that part for us?

MAL: I’ll call Glenda Anderson and find out. Maybe she could be a writer story newspaper person for us. I’ll tell her we’ll double her salary if she comes to work for us.

MR: Triple it. I mean we’ve got a grant for a million dollars. They wouldn’t have given it to us if they didn’t want us to spend it. Like for those little tile pedestrian walkie things, or new downtown benches or raises for Jane Chambers. If we don’t spend it, someone else will.

MAL: Speaking of Jane, we had a few hours open yesterday and we spent it at Patrona’s. I told her it’s a brand new era, and that we’re going to work together with the city to make Ukiah a better place. More progressive and vibrant. No need for all the negativity and bad vibes, and she said she was on board 100%. As a show of faith she said the city will put up one of those outdoor seating areas on the sidewalk out front. Big umbrellas and little tables and everything. It’ll give us a place to go to get out of that gloomy newspaper building. Work is supposed to be fun, right?


Phone rings. Rodin picks up. Yeah, whaddya want? (in snarly voice) I’m the editor, that’s who, and I’m working on a headline on the lede. It’s a front-pager, buddy! Who’s this? Oh, hi Mr. Gullixson. No, not yet. Well, you certainly don’t expect us to put out one of these news publication journalisms every day, do you?!? We’ve been awful busy, and besides, we’re thinking about working on a big special edition. It’s going to celebrate diversity and community with a Shop Local angle once we get our reporter consultant in Monterey to submit a bid. Jeez, chill off, dude! Things are fine. It’s not like readers are complaining about the paper not coming out or anything.

(Tom Hine who writes under the TWK byline, is reported to be among the first to go when the new bosses take over. Can’t wait!)

* * *



ON SEPTEMBER 2 at about 2:00 PM Ukiah Police responded to the Wells Fargo Bank, at 715 South State Street, to investigate the passing of a forged or altered check. Bank employees reported a subject identified as 41 year old Randall Lee Gensaw, of Ukiah, had given a teller a check that had been altered then left after being questioned about the check. The investigating officer determined the check had been stolen from the victim’s mailbox earlier that day or the day prior. The investigating officer attempted to locate Gensaw, and on September 8th at about 8:40 AM the officer spotted Gensaw in the 100 block of North Main Street. Gensaw explained he didn’t know the victim and that he’d gotten the altered check from a friend who offered to pay Gensaw to cash the check. The officer arrested Gensaw for burglary and for forgery, and during a search of Gensaw located a pistol in his pants pocket. Gensaw also had a methamphetamine smoking pipe and methamphetamine in his possession. Gensaw is a convicted felon and prohibited from possessing firearms, and was charged with possessing methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.


ON SEPTEMBER 5th at about 1:30 PM Ukiah Police responded to a residence in the 400 block of East Gobbi Street for a welfare check. It was reported the female suspect was passed out and had possibly been using drugs. Officers found 20 year old Amber Tara Pauline Sallinen partially on a bed and sleeping, with a 1 year old infant sleeping beside her. A partially burned but unlit cigarette was observed on the bed close to Sallinen and the infant’s head. The room was extremely cluttered and objects had to be moved to reach the bed. Sallinen was initially non-responsive and was difficult to wake up, then appeared disoriented and confused. Sallinen admitted to having used methamphetamine the night prior. A small amount of marijuana was observed in plain view and within arm’s reach of the infant. Sallinen was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance and for child endangerment. Less than a gram of methamphetamine was located amongst Sallinen’s belongings, and she was additionally charged with possessing methamphetamine. Sallinen’s child was released to the custody of Mendocino County Child Protective Services.


ON SEPTEMBER 6th at about 7:00 PM Ukiah Police responded to the area of 200 South Barnes Street for three males associated with a black vehicle, who were observed checking the locked doors to a building. The arriving officer observed the 3 subjects seated inside the vehicle, and saw the left rear passenger pushing a pouch under the seat with his feet. The officer saw the grip of a pistol protruding from a seat-back pouch, and requested additional officers for a high risk approach. The pistol was found to be a pellet gun, and all 3 subjects were determined to be on search probation with the left rear passenger also prohibited from possessing drugs. A search of the vehicle revealed the pouch pushed under the seat by the left rear passenger contained over 15 grams of marijuana. The officer arrested 20 year old Jonathan Jay Suarez Pejana, of Ukiah, for violating probation.


ON SEPTEMBER 7th at about 2:00 AM Ukiah Police responded to the 1000 block of South State Street for a drunk driver who’d driven into a planter box. Arriving officers learned 35 year old Jorge Toriz-Corona was observed by a hotel employee driving a silver 2006 Nissan Altima into the lot. Corona was weaving, and drove the front of the vehicle into a planter box while parking. Corona was apparently trying to reverse the vehicle but instead drove forward into the planter box again. The employee retrieved Corona’s ID from him and telephoned police. Corona was contacted at the scene and been drinking, and was found too intoxicated too drive and was arrested for DUI. Corona also had warrant for his arrest from Orange County for DUI.


ON SEPTEMBER 7th at about 12:45 PM Ukiah Police responded to the 1200 block of Airport Park Boulevard for a restraining order violation.

Officers were told 25 year old Paul Stephen Golyer was seen within 100 yards of the business at 1290 Airport Park Boulevard, in violation of a current restraining order.

Golyer was located in the 1100 block of Airport Park Boulevard and placed under citizen’s arrest for violating the order. Golyer was on probation for the same offense and was also charged with violating probation.


ON SEPTEMBER 7th at about 7:00 PM Ukiah Police responded to WalMart, at 1155 Airport Park Boulevard for a shoplifter that had fled the location. The officer determined a store employee had observed a female placing clothing into paper bags, later determined to be valued at over $250, which she then took with her and exited the store without paying. The employee contacted the female outside the store, but the female refused to cooperate and fled the location. The officer searched the area but could not locate the female. The officer returned to the store and learned store employees had located a backpack left behind by the suspect. Inside the backpack was some of the stolen clothing, as well as over 1 gram of methamphetamine, and a jail bracelet with the name of 32 year Jennifer Louise Tinsley. Store employees viewed the Mendocino County Jail online booking photos and confirmed Tinsley was the theft suspect. On September 9th at about 7:10 PM a Ukiah Police Officer saw Tinsley in the pocket park in the 100 block of South Oak Street. Tinsley admitted to the theft, and she was arrested for shoplifting and possession of methamphetamine. Tinsley was on probation for shoplifting and drug influence, and was charged with violating probation. While being transported to the County Jail and while the police vehicle was stopped on North State Street at Low Gap Road, Tinsley was able to slip her handcuffs and open the door. Tinsley ran from the car and refused orders to stop as the officer pursued her on foot. Tinsley was captured behind the QuestMart, at 915 North State Street, and was also charged with resisting arrest and escape, and booked into the County Jail.

Martinez, Rodriguez
Martinez, Rodriguez

ON SEPTEMBER 10th Ukiah Police Officers assisted the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force with the service of several search warrants in the Ukiah City Limits. A search of a residence and vehicles in the 800 block of Yosemite Drive revealed over 4 ounces of methamphetamine in separate packing hidden and secreted within a vehicle, and over $35,000 in US Currency was located in multiple locations within the residence. It was determined the methamphetamine was possessed by 23 year old Melvin Martinez, and he was arrested at the scene for possessing methamphetamine for sale. A search was also performed at a residence in the 1300 block of South State Street, and the business at 1360 South State Street. Inside the residence officers located over 1.5 ounces of methamphetamine in packages of various weights, along with packaging, scales, and other items commonly used in the sales of drugs. Also located was a firearm, ammunition, body armor, and various forms of gang indicia. Inside the business officers located additional items used to sell drugs, and over 10 ounces of marijuana. Officers arrested 34 year old Luis Geraldo Rodriguez at the scene for possessing methamphetamine for sale, being armed in the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, and criminal street gang association. The US Currency was seized pursuant to State Asset Seizure laws. All locations and suspects are believed to be associated with one another and the case remains under investigation.

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, September 14, 2014

Bennett, Campomanes, Daniels, Furline, Garver
Bennett, Campomanes, Daniels, Furline, Garver

DAVID BENNETT, Willits. Child abuse/endangerment.

ALFONSO CAMPOMANES, Fresno/Ukiah. Distribution/exhibition of lewd material sent with intent to seduce a minor.

STEVEN DANIELS, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

CODY FURLINE, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.

MICHAL GARVER JR., Boonville. Failure to register.

Hanover, Hanson, Ibarra, Juster, Mallet
Hanover, Hanson, Ibarra, Juster, Mallet

PATRICK HANOVER, Covelo. Court order violation.

DONALD HANSON, Laytonville. Child abuse/endangerment.

FRANCISCO IBARRA JR., Philo. Possession of meth.


JANET MALLET, Laytonville. Drunk in public.

McNamara, Morales-Carrilo, Morales, Owens, Perez-Aguilar, Pollay
McNamara, Morales-Carrilo, Morales, Owens, Perez-Aguilar, Pollay

JEFFREY McNAMARA, Laytonville. Failure to appear, resisting arrest.

NATHAN MORALES, Covelo. Probation revocation.

CARLOS MORALES-CARRILLO, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

JAMES OWENS, Boonville. Drunk in public.

FERNANDO PEREZ-AGUILAR, Ukiah. DUI, driving on suspended license, violation of court order.

PAUL POLLAY, Willits. Under influence of controlled substance.

* * *


My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree

Toward heaven still.

And there's a barrel that I didn't fill

Beside it, and there may be two or three

Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.

But I am done with apple-picking now.

Essence of winter sleep is on the night,

The scent of apples; I am drowsing off.

I cannot shake the shimmer from my sight

I got from looking through a pane of glass

I skimmed this morning from the water-trough,

And held against the world of hoary grass.

It melted, and I let it fall and break.

But I was well

Upon my way to sleep before it fell,

And I could tell

What form my dreaming was about to take.

Magnified apples appear and reappear,

Stem end and blossom end,

And every fleck of russet showing clear.

My instep arch not only keeps the ache,

It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.

And I keep hearing from the cellar-bin

That rumbling sound

Of load on load of apples coming in.

For I have had too much

Of apple-picking; I am overtired

Of the great harvest I myself desired.

There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,

Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall,

For all

That struck the earth,

No matter if not bruised, or spiked with stubble,

Went surely to the cider-apple heap

As of no worth.

One can see what will trouble

This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.

Were he not gone,

The woodchuck could say whether it's like his

Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,

Or just some human sleep.

Robert Frost

* * *


by Daniel Mintz

An engineering assessment has concluded that the county, its cities and its tribes need five times their current funding to maintain local roads and bridges, an effort that will cost $426 million over the next 10 years.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) North Coast Branch has collaborated with local agencies to produce the 2014 Report Card for Humboldt County’s Transportation Infrastructure.

The county’s overall grade for road condition is a near-failing D-plus and bridges fared only slightly better, earning a C-minus.

The report finds that the county’s average road condition is mediocre and its number of vehicle accident fatalities is about double the state’s rate.

Those findings were discussed at a Sept. 8 press conference at the county administrative building in Eureka. “These poor grades are unacceptable and reflect the current vulnerabilities in our transportation infrastructure,” said Yoash Tilles, the local ASCE branch’s president.

To improve the county’s dismal grades, “We must increase leadership in the area of infrastructure renewal,” Tilles said, adding that the report is intended as a “catalyst” for our local leaders to maintain and renew infrastructure.”

He said the involvement of local officials in producing the report is a “strong first step” toward the “increased investment” needed to improve infrastructure conditions. Gaining funding is a challenge but Tilles said the report calls for a “clearly outlined funding plan” to improve roads and bridges.

Tom Mattson, the county’s director of public works, said the local situation isn’t unique in the U.S. “We have the opportunity to rebuild America and without the knowledge of what it’s going to take, we can’t really do that,” he continued, thanking the ASCE branch for marshalling the collaboration behind the report.

Also at the conference were Doby Class, the City of Arcata’s public works director and Sandi Tripp, the Karuk Tribe’s transportation director.

“Our roadways are at a crossroads and the entire cost to maintain them will only increase with delayed action,” said Class.

Tripp said five tribes contributed to the report, which is hoped to “provide supporting data needed to access funding and hopefully increase and stabilize funding” from the federal government.

During a question and answer session, Mattson said that $350 million of the $426 million 10-year investment estimate cited in the report accounts for roads under county jurisdiction. The county’s current road funding amounts to $10 million a year, he continued.

Measure Z, the county’s proposed sales tax measure for the November election, will bring in $6 million annually if it passes. It’s been presented as a Sheriff’s Office and firefighting funding mechanism and Mattson was asked to what degree road improvements should get Measure Z revenue.

“I present the facts, I can’t lobby – the Board (of Supervisors) members are very well aware if the facts of our road system and I’m sure they consider it in everything that they do,” he said.

A more sizeable funding mechanism is the Federal Transportation Bill, which has been extended to the end of May as political gridlock prevents its approval. The bill is “undergoing a lot of discussion in Washington, D.C.,” Mattson added, which he said makes the report’s release “timely.”

The D-plus overall grade means that some county roads have “reverted to gravel” and others are in fairly good shape but will falter without maintenance investments, said Mattson. Asked if some areas of the county have more acute needs than others, Mattson said routes that “go over some very unstable terrain” are particularly problematic.

Work on the report began last January, said Tilles. The local ASCE branch got a $1,000 grant from its parent organization for it but Tilles said the work was done without cost and the grant money only paid for expenses associated with holding meetings.

The report card assessment is the county’s first. Others are being released by ASCE branches across the US as the nation’s transportation infrastructure continues to age.

The officials at the press conference said federal money is being invested in new roads rather than improvements.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

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