Mendocino County Today: Sunday, Oct 19, 2014

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HELLZAPOPPIN IN THE ANDERSON VALLEY!

Community anger over recent developments at the Anderson Valley Health Center has all of Anderson Valley in an uproar. The following begins with a consensus call for a mass community meeting aimed at reinstating a popular young doctor who was abruptly fired Friday evening and continues on into a sampling of community opinion about management of the Center. As you will see, all this is in flux with no firm community meeting dates or meeting sites confirmed.

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WHAT — COMMUNITY MEETING. There have been multiple requests for a community meeting to respond to recent firing of Logan McGhan by the AVHC management and board. We need to meet soon, we need to have the meeting open to AVHC staff, management and board.

WHEN — TUESDAY, OCTOBER 21ST, 5:30 PM after any possible and likely action by medical staff, or board on Monday which might inform us further. (Subject to change as situation changes.)

WHERE - Efforts are being made to get a space. Possibilities: senior center, fairgrounds, and grange. Final location To Be Announced.

WHO - Anderson Valley Community.

AGENDA GOALS —

  1. Reversal of action to fire Logan McGhan.
  2. Review of performance of Shannon Spiller, and possible request for removal.
  3. Review of failure of duty of board, possible request for resignations.
  4. Report by Chief Financial Officer showing current budget, previous year budget vs. actual report, debt status of clinic building.
  5. Reinstatement of Dr. Mark Apfel as Medical Director.

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COMMUNITY COMMENTS

Comment: Yes, a community meeting in a very large facility— and a spokesperson.

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Comment: I agree. We need a community meeting right away.

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Comment: I'd like to second the suggestion that we have a community meeting early next week. Especially since I am afraid that if the clinic management doesn't change we may also lose Mark and Cindy. How long can we ask them to work in such a hostile environment?

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Comment: AV Grange Mtg Tues. Another day would be better for meeting.

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Comment: Unfortunately the meeting conflicts with the AV Foodshed dinner that night. EXACTLY... There needs to be an agenda plan, a meeting manager or producer, and an identifiable outcome to pass on to the Board and the rest of the community. I think the proposed agenda is good, but would add “don't screw up the MA mediation” and improve Board communications to the community, both at board meetings and at the website. My metaphor is the AVHC house is out there with a prairie fire gaining ground surrounding it. Often fire fighting in an emergency requires actually slowing down, making sure each action is done, not quickly but carefully. Taking care to plan a meeting trumps urgency about the date, I would argue.

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Comment: I agree, but would add that we need to work on the legal requirements for board and AVHC re fiduciary and behavioral accountability for each branch of the AVHC (board/managers/staff) before we go into the meeting.

The Foodshed dinner is on Sunday night.

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Comment: I feel we should meet as soon as possible. Continuing the firefighting metaphor, firefighters have to gather information clearly, calmly and quickly. Structure fires require immediate attention… especially if there is still staff inside…. Perhaps this should be an information gathering/planning what action to take meeting. Things are moving quickly, I’m concerned that if we don’t show Logan and the remaining staff support now they will only get worse.

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Dr. Logan McGhan
Dr. Logan McGhan

Comment: The news about the sacking of Dr. McGhan is shocking and I believe brings us to a tipping point. I think it is high time for the good citizens of Anderson Valley to unite and demand that Dr. McGhan be immediately reinstated. The Board of AVHC must recognize that their unexplained actions against valuable and respected employees and former employees are creating a deep divide within the AV community and seriously harm the ability of the health center to function for and with the support of its clients. In a small community like this where we all know each other more or less, transparency is of utmost importance. I suggest we no longer wait on the sidelines at Health Center meetings to be allowed to pose questions that receive no frank answers, but rather that we call an open meeting for early next week to decide on an agenda and how to proceed to protect this essential community asset. We must move quickly now or lose our new doctor who, by all accounts, is a great plus to the health center and our community.

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Comment: I have been told by several people Friday evening that newly hired clinic doctor Logan McGhan was fired this afternoon. I have not heard this from Dr. McGhan, but have heard it from those who have heard it from him. This action follows last Thursday’s happy meet and greet at the clinic to welcome McGhan and new medical director David Gorchoff, both warmly introduced by Spiller and Bonner. No public announcement of the firing has been made by the AVHC board of directors, nor the CEO. McGhan was highly sought, recruited last spring and came on duty in September. Thought to be a good fit due to his medical study and work experience in Mexico, and work in California central valley agricultural areas, McGhan was welcomed by Mark Apfel at several public occasions. I do not know why Spiller fired him, nor why Bonner and Gorchoff went along with it. I have heard (not verified) that the cause was disagreement with Spiller over her required dress code, and her insistence that McGhan treat minors only with an attendant present — she claiming it is a California legal requirement and he saying not so.

It took a long time to find McGhan, and to recruit him away from other local clinics, and to find him suitable housing. It took a long time for him to be sure that he could happily relocate his family here. This last personnel debacle follows on the ugly termination of a good dental clinic director, made to look like a firing for cause when it was in fact a reduction in force, the hiring and then loss of an excellent RN due to the clinic reneging on terms of employment, and the painful disrespect with which the Board has treated Clinic founder Mark Apfel, removing him from his position as Medical Director without discussion and refusing for several weeks to even talk to him directly about the terms of his continued employment.

It is hard to overstate the ways in which the present directors have failed in their duty to the community.

The next regular meeting of the directors is scheduled for Monday, the 27th of October. If I hear anything about it (there was a lot left over from the last meeting scheduled to be discussed this month) I will forward it.

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THE AVA'S VIEW OF THE SITUATION

WE CAN'T HELP but think all of this is related to the recurrent rumors that Diane Agee of Redwood Coast Medical Services based in Gualala really wants to close the Anderson Valley Health Center.

IT'S CLEAR that Shannon Spiller is Agee's surrogate, her Boonville listening post cum hatchet person. We don't ordinarily tend to paranoid thinking, but given the way Agee, Spiller, Gorchoff et al are throwing OUR money around they are deliberately sabotaging the economic viability of the Anderson Valley Health Center.

THE HEALTH CENTER is broke? It must be a lot broker now, what with the phantom Dr. Gorchoff, the newly installed “Chief Medical Officer” pulling down better than a hundred thou a year for tasks that don't even add up to nebulous. And now the ruling troika has hired Ms. Coursey of Ukiah to do their public relations for them. (I'll be interested to see how Ms. Coursey spins this one.)

MS. SPILLER is not qualified to boss medical doctors around. Nothing in her thin resume suggests that she should enjoy the rank of “Chief Executive Officer.”

THE AV HEALTH CENTER is, to say the least, administratively top heavy. There are eight people shuffling paper for the eight “line” staff at the Clinic, or seven if you don’t count Dr. McGhan.

WE AGREE that Dr. Mark Apfel should immediately be re-appointed Center Medical Director, and we straight-up join the rest of the community's demand that Dr. McGhan be immediately reinstated. (The pure sadism of McGhan's treatment is simply astounding, as was the firing of Kathy Corrall, marched out of the Center like a criminal. Dr. McGhan was also escorted off the premises. Who's doing this? Who are the shot callers?

WE CAN'T REMEMBER a time when the Anderson Valley was more united in a single demand arising out of community shock and outrage. Dr. McGhan must be re-hired.

RUMORS coming out of the Health Center from friends of staff Saturday afternoon are saying that the Board has scheduled an emergency — but not public — meeting for Sunday evening, presumably to try to mitigate the damage of recent events.

* * *

CATCH OF THE DAY, October 18, 2014

Austin, Barriga-Barrera, Bitney, Carbajal
Austin, Barriga-Barrera, Bitney, Carbajal

MAUREEN AUSTIN, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation, resisting arrest.

JOSE BARRIGA-BARRERA, Ukiah. Driving without valid license, evasion, probation revocation.

MICHAEL BITNEY, Fort Mohave Arizona/Fort Bragg. Vehicular manslaughter, fatal or injury hit & run, battery.

ANGELO CARBAJAL, Fort Bragg. Domestic battery.

Cranford, Drummond, Hemphill, McCoy
Cranford, Drummond, Hemphill, McCoy

RYAN CRANFORD, Willits. Under the influence of controlled substance.

FREDDIE DRUMMOND III, Willits. Sale-furnish-transport “organic drug.”

RANDY HEMPHILL, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

JODY McCOY, Ukiah. Burglary.

Motts, Nelson, Ross, Williams
Motts, Nelson, Ross, Williams

RHONDA MOTTS, Fort Bragg. Domestic assault, probation revocation.

CURTIS NELSON, Willits. Court order violation.

LACEE ROSS, Willits. Battery.

ANDREA WILLIAMS, Ukiah. Driving without valid license, failure to appear.

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THE BOARD OF SUPES is gearing up for another attempt to give Acting County Counsel Doug Losak a hefty pay raise. A month ago the Supes announced that Losak would be named "Interim" County Counsel instead of "Acting" County Counsel, a title he has held since February. The title shift is worth $36k a year to Losak. Sheriff Allman quickly sounded the alarm that a pay raise was in the works. Chair of the Board John Pinches confirmed that a pay raise would be on the next agenda on the Consent Calendar, usually reserved for non-controversial issues. It was soon confirmed that the raise would jump Losak from his current annual take of $107k to more than $143k, far more pay than any other County department head.

AS THE PUBLIC FUROR MOUNTED, the Supes dropped the consent calendar sneak-a-roo and switched to Closed Session for "employee evaluation." District Attorney David Eyster showed up to tell the Board they better not be discussing a pay raise in closed session. Eyster said doing so would be a Brown Act violation, pointedly adding that his office was in charge of investigating and prosecuting Brown Act violations. He also said the Board lacked authority to grant Losak anything more than a 5% pay increase. And the DA scorched Losak's professional abilities with a vehemence unprecedented in Mendocino County public affairs. (If such candor prevailed elsewhere, American government might begin to work again.)

SO NOW THE SUPES have another Closed Session item to deal with County Counsel, this time under "labor negotiations." An obscure section of the Brown Act apparently allows the Board to secretly negotiate Losak's pay raise, as long as they first identify their "designated representatives" in open session. Then the Supes can meet behind closed doors to instruct their designated reps on how to give Losak his pay raise. A final contract would still need to come back to the Supes in open session for final approval. The hope by the Supes is that by then the public will no longer be paying attention, which at this point would seem to be a vain hope indeed.

THE CONSENT CALENDAR ITEM to appoint "designated reps" is sponsored by the Human Resources (HR) Dept. and recommends that CEO Carmel Angelo and Hurman Resources Director Tammi Weselsky be appointed to negotiate with Losak.

CEO ANGELO has been on the Supes agenda herself since April for employee evaluation. The Supes seem unable to agree on whether or not she has done a good job and whether or not her pay (frozen at $150k, $30k less than her hapless predecessor Tom Mitchell) should be increased. Angelo, who by most accounts has done an outstanding job within the terms of her position, appears about to be tasked with negotiating a fat pay raise for Losak, who has not exactly distinguished himself, although Supervisor Pinches has claimed that Losak's savvy has saved the County lots and lots money in claims and lawsuits denied.

THE IRONY of the situation seems lost on Supervisor Stoner Dude Hamburg and his clueless colleagues. Board Chair John Pinches, usually a rock of common sense and practicality, has been quoted as saying the work Losak has done "is nothing short of outstanding" and seems ready to go along with the pay hike. Stoner Dude and Pinches need the vote of at least one other Supe to push the pay raise through. Veteran Board watchers are at a loss to guess which of the other three (Carre Brown, Dan Gjerde or John McCowen) might be willing to go along. (We predict Gjerde and McCowen will vote no; Brown has not been heard from on the Losak matter.)

LOSAK WAS APPOINTED Acting County Counsel for the first time about two years ago. He'd held the job for two weeks when he was pulled over by Sheriff's deputy Orell Massey and found to have marijuana and an unpermitted concealed firearm stashed under the front seat of his car.

LOSAK has since stumbled on several occasions when asked to advise the Board on their own rules of procedure. As County Counsel, Losak is charged with enforcing employee discipline and instructing them on the law as it applies to ethical professional behavior standards. Many County employees, naturally, find it ironic that Losak sits in judgment of them and leads them on ethical matters. For lots of County employees, the question is not whether Losak should get a pay raise, but why is he still working for Mendocino County?

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Kuczinski3

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THE MENDOCINO COUNTY scam-a-rama known as Visit Mendocino County (VMC) may be coming to an end. The way the scam works is that Mendo County lodging businesses agree to tax themselves 1% of room rents (paid for by the customer) which is collected by the County, which then transfers the money to the Mendocino County Lodging Association (MCLA) along with a 50% match out of County funds. MCLA then contracts with VMC to promote the lodging/tourism industry.

ANOTHER JOBS PROGAM is called the Mendocino County Promotional Alliance (MCPA). It is also part of the subsidized tourism cabal. No one really knows which part of the three-headed VMC-MCLA-MCPA beast is really in charge of which purse strings. But all three groups compete to install as many of their friends as possible into do-nothing jobs. They then travel all over the state and nation on the public dime attending wine and cheese shindigs. They claim their jaunts and a few ads in Sunset Magazine somehow benefits Mendocino County.

BUT THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN TENSION among the players in this somewhat forced and oddly configured promotional ménage-a-trois. Two years ago an effort to double the 1% fee (and the County match) was defeated by dissident lodging owners who raised numerous questions about a lack of transparency and the way VMC was operated. Just like the ghouls who run "publicly supported community radio" station KZYX, the honchos living high on the VMC hog don't think anyone should be able to know how much salary they choose to pay themselves. VMC is trying again to increase the fees collected (and the County match) and also cut MCLA out of the decision making loop. But a recent change in leadership on the MCLA Board threatens to upset the apple cart.

THE NEW MCLA BOARD recently voted to sever the contract with VMC effective October 15. The thought of being cut off from the public trough has sent shock waves through the ranks of the VMC staff. It is too early to tell just how this particular drama will play out, but it promises to instantly renew the very bitter and very public infighting that MCLA and MCPA were famous for a dozen or so years ago. Their differences were temporarily pushed into the background based on a tenuous agreement of how to share the spoils ($300,000 or more of public money thrown their way every year by the Board of Supes). But that agreement is fast unraveling. Will MCPA be able to vote MCLA off the island? Will the Board of Supes double the amount of public money handed over to a private outfit to promote their personal business interests? Will the Supes demand greater transparency on how the money is spent? Or will the entire fiasco finally collapse of its own weight and self-interested infighting?

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HOME INVASION NEWS #1

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/2989131-181/santa-rosa-men-sought-in

HOME INVASION NEWS #2

http://www.ukiahdailyjournal.com/news/ci_26748663/sheriff-allman-provides-update-three-home-invasion-cases

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DOCTORS V. EBOLA

Letter to the Editor:

I am appalled at this country's response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Bluntly, we didn't care until it was a threat to the US. And even now the Obama Administration's response is to send military troops to “control” the situation. That generally means killing people, not helping them. Where are the US doctors and why aren't they volunteering? Doctor's Without Borders has been successfully — yes successfully — treating and controlling Ebola outbreaks in West Africa since 1976. And currently they have the most medical support in the region. Cuba is second. Yes, Cuba can respond to this health crisis with emergency medical teams but the US won't.

I read in the British Telegraph “An Ebola cure is very much on the horizon and would have come sooner had it been seen as any kind of priority for drug companies before it started reaching the western world.” That says it all doesn't it? Drug companies don't care about poor Africans. But if they can make money off the western world then it becomes a priority. Medical care in this country is a disgrace; run by profit driven private corporations including pharmaceutical companies, at the expense of public health care for all.

Please go online and make a donation to Doctors Without Borders. They are maxed out and need our help. Since our country fails to contribute we can and should help this organization work to stop the Ebola epidemic. I have no affiliation with this organization other than as a supporter.

Lanny Cotler, Willits

* * *

ARF-ARF!

What a wonderful time it is for the scammer, the conniver, and the cheat: the underage drinkers who flash fake IDs, the able-bodied adults who drive cars with handicapped license plates, the parents who use a phony address so that their child can attend a more desirable public school, the customers with eleven items who stand in the express lane.

The latest group to bend the law is pet owners.

Take a look around. See the St. Bernard slobbering over the shallots at Whole Foods? Isn't that a Rottweiler sitting third row, mezzanine, at Carnegie Hall? As you will have observed, an increasing number of your neighbors have been keeping company with their pets in human-only establishments, cohabiting with them in animal-unfriendly apartment buildings and dormitories, and taking them (free!) onto airplanes — simply by claiming that the creatures are their licensed companion animals and are necessary to their mental well-being. No government agency keeps track of such figures, but in 2011 the National Service Animal Registry, a commercial enterprise that sells certificates, vests and badges for helper animals, signed up 2400 emotional support animals. Last year, it registered 11,000. What about the mental well-being of everyone else?

--Patricia Marx, Pets Allowed

* * *

COLLISION

by Louis Bedrock

He was born in Florence. His mother was a model, a cantautora, and an actress. His father was a British-born American who worked in some nebulous capacity at the American Embassy in Rome.

When she unexpectedly became pregnant, his mother was Catholic enough to not abort; however, she couldn’t handle being a parent so she entrusted her son’s care to her older sister, also an actress. His absentee father provided tutors, coaches for soccer, track, Krav Maga, and private piano lessons; he learned to sign fluently from his uncle; while his spoken Russian was imperfect, he could read Tolstoy, Chekov, and Dostoyevsky in their own language; he spoke English, French, Italian, and Spanish like a native speaker.

He could have earned a living interpreting, translating, and tuning pianos, but at the age of fifteen he enrolled at the Seconda Università degli Studi di Napol--which was actually in Caserta, to study medicine.

He could have been a gallant: he possessed not the rough good looks of his father, but rather the porcelain beauty of his mother and aunt: high cheekbones, finely sculptured features, beautiful brown eyes. However, despite having been imbued with correct manners and superficial social skills, he eschewed contact with other people, preferring an asceticism and stoicism seasoned with elements of misogyny and misanthropy.

He would have been a virgin if his Israeli Krav Maga instructor had resisted her impulse to deflower him one afternoon--and several afternoons and evenings after that. She was engaged to a pilot in the IDF, and eventually abandoned him to return to Israel, but by that time he no longer needed much instruction in Krav Maga or love.

He missed her, but would not admit this even to himself.

After his third year of medical school, his father used his connections to get him a job with Médecins Sans Frontières. He worked in several countries along the African Sahel and acquired experience that most doctors receive only during internship and residency. He was a quick learner and earned the respect of the veteran doctors with whom he worked. His fluency in French was an asset.

While he was working in Mali, just south of Tombouctou, a dozen men with guns invaded the clinic. He shot and killed six of them with a nine-millimeter Walther PPK that his father had given him. While changing the clip, he took two bullets from an AK 47 in the right side of his chest, which shattered a couple of ribs and riddled the lung with bits of bone and bullets. Had he not been in a clinic, surrounded by doctors, he would have died.

It was never determined whether they were Christian gunmen or Muslim gunmen. Gunmen in Mali do not wear team uniforms.

He was flown first to Israel--with the intervention of his former Krav Maga instructor’s fiancé--by then a Major in the Israel Air Force, later to New York. He suffered through an interminable series of surgeries, reconstructions, and rehabilitation programs.

When he was well enough, he was provided with an apartment in Riverdale, from which he could see the George Washington Bridge. His ex-instructor, with her fiancé’s approval, came to take care of him for a few months and intensified the pace of the rehab.

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Her mother was Jewish--a classical dancer and a dance instructor; her father was a prominent black physician. She too enjoyed all the privileges of the jeunesse doré: tutors, trainers, and instructors for French, dance, tennis, and calculus; summers in Europe, ski vacations in Colorado and Switzerland.

To her parents’ disappointment, she was not the valedictorian; however, she was in the top ten percent of her class at the prestigious upper West Side high school she attended. She was popular and extroverted; she liked to be provocative in a light-hearted way. She was exquisite, and every male in the world was in love with her.

She had received early admission to both Columbia and The University of Pennsylvania for pre-med programs, but she and about twenty other girls in the senior class found themselves in a dilemma. Their instructor for advanced biology had suffered a stroke in January, had been incapacitated, and no replacement had been found. As a result, the girls would have to attend an intensive summer course and take a rigorous examination at the end of August.

* * *

He reluctantly accepted the job. Once again, his father’s connections had benefited him. His father was friendly with both the Mayor and the Education Chancellor. His Krav Maga instructor encouraged him to take the position. She worried that his isolation was reinforcing his asceticism and misanthropy. She was returning to Israel soon and didn’t want him to be alone all day in the Riverdale apartment.

He had never taught before, but had been table captain for his first three years in medical school. He was a good leader and guide. He would organize the class in the same way the classes had been organized at medical school: he would divide the class into groups of four or five students and appoint a group leader for each table. The classes would be task driven. He would be the facilitator.

The class was originally to be limited to 20 students, but he agreed to accept 24 students with the stipulation that he would have the right to exclude anyone who gave him a problem. No appeal. He would brook no nonsense from adolescents even though, at 20, he was barely beyond adolescence himself.

Perhaps this proximity in age was one of the reasons he felt the need to maintain a distance between himself and the students. Perhaps he was uneasy because all of his students would be young women. He planned to address them as “Miss” plus their last names. They would address him as “Doctor S”, although he was not yet a doctor.

* * *

She noticed him when she came in with her mother to register for the course. He was chatting with the principal. He didn’t glance at her, but the woman in charge of registration nodded toward him and told her a few details about him. She was intrigued. He seemed so young. She thought of introducing herself, but he and the principal were discussing something that looked serious.

* * *

He had brought his class list to the principal and solicited the principal’s advice on which students would be ideal candidates for table captains. She was one of the students he recommended.

* * *

The students’ files had recent photographs of the young women. He studied the files and the pictures and endeavored to know all his students by name before the first day of class.

Classes would be from 9:00 to 1:00, Monday through Friday. He would be at the school and in the classroom by 7:30 each day. Students could arrange to come in early provided he had at least one parent volunteer in the room with him. He actually arrived at 7:00, but since he was now strong enough to travel around by bike, he needed the extra time to wash up and change his clothes. He wore a dress shirt with a tie for class.

On the first day of class, he greeted his students in the hallway outside the classroom, lined them up, and sent each to an assigned seat. When he went inside, she was the only one not sitting in the seat he had assigned.

—Miss G, your seat is at table 3.

—Our teachers usually let us sit where we want.

—I want you at table 3.

—Ain’t no white boy gonna tell me where to sit.

This last utterance was spoken sotto voce, using her Black Voice-- which always provoked laughter among friends and relatives. Indeed, the other girls at the table laughed; but she had misjudged the volume and he had heard her.

—Get out.

She was stunned. Her intention had been to tease him with her customary light-hearted flirtatiousness. She intended to follow his instructions when he insisted that she change her seat.

She remained where she was, unable to move, looking at him. She couldn’t believe this was happening.

—You have a choice. You may leave before I count to ten or I will call security and have you removed.

She got up and left at “five”.

* * *

By one o’ clock he was exhausted. He straightened out the room, put his things in his backpack, changed to his riding clothes, rolled his bike into the hallway, and carried it down two flights of stairs. He decided to take the subway to 230th and Broadway and then ride the half-mile uphill to his apartment building. He had not been on his feet for so long for more than two years.

When he went to the office to clock out, she was waiting on a bench.

—Dr. S —she said in a tenuous voice—, May I speak to you?

—You may not.

He clocked out, rolled his bike out of the office, and headed to the exit. She didn’t follow him.

* * *

Next morning, she was in the office at 7:30 with both parents.

He was already upstairs in the classroom. The principal allowed her father to call the room. He identified himself and asked for a meeting. His request was denied because no one had called to make an appointment. Besides, there was nothing to discuss.

The principal, who liked the girl and her family, told them to give it a few days. He would talk to S himself.

* * *

On Wednesday, one of his students, Miss L, who was a close friend of the banned student, asked to speak with him for a few minutes. She told him that several students were considering dropping the class if he didn’t relent and give Miss G another chance.

—I have no control over what anyone else does.

—Is that final?

He didn’t answer her. She was the one who broke eye contact.

* * *

That afternoon, the principal invited him into the principal’s office. S agreed and listened respectfully to the principal’s argument for letting G return.

—I can’t do that. However, if you want to replace me, I won’t insist that the school honor my contract.

—If there were someone else available to teach this class, I wouldn’t have obtained a waiver that permits a twenty year old to be the teacher.

The principal got up and walked to the window.

—Will you at least think about what I’ve said?

S said nothing.

* * *

There were many layers to her distress. His disconnection and disinterest bewildered her. He didn’t even seem to be angry. She thought about that time in the office when she had gone to register and her excitement that this intriguing, beautiful young man was going to be her teacher. She recalled the coldness with which he ordered her to leave the room. She couldn’t forge a gestalt from this experience.

For two weeks, her friend L visited her daily to keep her abreast of what the class was doing. For two weeks she kept up with all the reading and the homework. But toward the end of July, she gave up. There was no hope that she would be allowed to return to the class.

* * *

The people at Columbia University were compassionate and flexible. She entered the university in the fall and made up the biology course at the high school in the spring.

It took a long time to forget the gratuitous cruelty of the instructor. Why hadn’t he laughed at her comment? It was obvious to everyone else in the world that it was a joke. If he had asked her again to change her seat, firmly and politely, she would have done so.

Why wouldn’t he talk to her?

* * *

All 23 of his students passed the course and excelled on the exam. Although teaching had provided some exhilarating moments--he liked seeing students’ eyes light up when he explained something well, he had no desire to make teaching his career.

He went back to Italy and finished medical school. He spent two more years in the Sahel with Médecins Sans Frontières. He was knowledgeable and skillful, but grew weary with the demanding work schedule. He was appalled by the fragility of the human body and its obscene mortality.

He moved to Spain and settled in a medium-sized university town. He stopped communicating with his mother, with the aunt that raised him, and his adoring cousins. He occasionally exchanged e-mails with his father. He didn’t have a phone.

He supported himself translating documents, magazine articles, and books, interpreting for the deaf through signing, and by tuning pianos.

2 Responses to "Mendocino County Today: Sunday, Oct 19, 2014"

  1. Rick Weddle   October 19, 2014 at 10:43 am

    re: AVHC problems
    My interest here is remote, since I write this from a couple thousand miles away, but this trouble you’re having in the Valley sounds way too familiar. Seems you have an administrative structure in the Health Center, probably the most expensive part of the clinic, not only NOT doing their job in any competent way, but actually making a loud and totally unnecessary mess of things. That is, these admin folk are being paid handsomely to fuck things up royally. Is this observation anywhere near correct? If so, then its a near-perfect match for ‘admin’ apparatus at most levels, pretty much everywhere in this country.
    I’m not any fan of vigilante action, or mob rule of any sort, but it seems to me there might be a simple and productive solution to this little problem of yours, as well as to others like it, here and there.
    The Public, in whose name and with whose hard-earned money these wacko admin caniptions are performed, having become righteously pissed, may, BY LAW, take the situation in hand and EXERCISE their Lawful Authority.
    What would be wrong with everybody (everyone) going down to the little clinic and directing the entire board of ‘directors’ to show up with them? Nothing wrong there. What would be wrong with these officials being directed to explain themselves in detail, or hit the goddamned road? Nothing wrong there, either. What would be wrong with starting from scratch and building a Health Center that actually worked for those who need it? Nada. What WOULD be wrong, it seems to me, is to let these goofy admin folk keep screwing up on such a Barnum & Bailey scale, and keep charging you for it, day in, day out, with frequent self-awarded raises.
    Now. About this Washington, D.C. deal…

    Reply
  2. Harvey Reading   October 19, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Re: pets in “human” places.

    Used to be (as late as the 70s) that no one made a fuss over dogs in class at Cal. It was sort of a Cal tradition for decades. Those dogs never bothered me a bit, though the authoritarian (“middle class” democrap and rethuglican) mindset that eventually ended that practice bothers me to no end.

    I’d rather have pets in grocery stores than egomaniacal yuppies giving me dirty looks because I’m “invading” their cell-phone “privacy space”. And, I’d rather have dog slobber on my vegetables than the germs from yuppie hands and respiratory passages …

    Reply

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