- Measure S Not The Answer
- Not In Need Of Oxygen
- Consider Tom
- Still Drinking The Costco Kool Aid!
- Direct It To The Discretionary Fund
- Thanks, Foodshed
- MAC’s Missing Tax Returns
- An Insider Looks At The Hospital Board Candidates
- A Simple VA Hospital Fix
MEASURE S NOT THE ANSWER
To the Editor:
What has happened to Tommy Wayne Kramer? After reading last Sunday's article on Measure S, did I laugh derisively at yet another amusing yet insane rant against progressive thinking? Or weep and wail with righteous indignation at a slander of the politically correct? No, instead I found myself thinking, “Dang, the man may have a point here — a good point.”
You see, I oppose fracking, and I also oppose Measure S.
TWK lets frackers off way too easy. They suck up enormous quantities of our water, and then contaminate it with a host of toxins. Instead of cleaning it up properly, as every other industrial water user is required to do, they dump it outside the natural water cycle by injection in deep wells, where it's no good to anybody except as a potential source of pollution.
But Measure S does not address any of these problems. It does absolutely nothing to reform present fracking law or regulation, now or in the future. All it does is promise to keep these awful things outside our precious county borders.
This kind of activism of and for the privileged became famous years ago in the wealthy communities of Marin County as NIMBY. Can Mendocino County do no better than this?
Instead of actually dealing with fracking, Proposition S addresses other unrelated issues of political sovereignty that I am not qualified to comment on, being neither a lawyer nor a constitutional scholar. As near as I can tell, they are intended to defy state and federal authority, and amend the California State and US Constitution by local ordinance.
If you really do question fracking and want to reform it, you might want to vote No on S.
NOT IN NEED OF OXYGEN
I have the habit of yellow hi-lighting, or jotting down on scraps of paper, or my bed-side pad, things that flit through my brain, or catch my eye. Such was the case when I read in the AVA that they found Scott Joseph Smith dead in his cell. I have a bulging computer file — now 1,400 pages long — into which I transcribe these bits. Among the ones I just transcribed was the following which involves a clipping you published in the AVA awhile back:
I read in the Anderson Valley Advertiser the following: “Deputies found 65-year-old Scott Joseph Smith’s unconscious and not breathing…” I wondered how the editor, Bruce Anderson, could not have jumped on this one: if the deputies found him conscious and not breathing, that would’ve been somewhat of an unusual jail event, and the headlines in the AVA would have read, “Prisoner Scott Joseph Smith no longer has need of oxygen.
I was pleased the other day when buying gas at Valero, across from Raley's, to see that there was somebody on the roof of the long abandoned Zach's restaurant, stripping its roof deck. I wandered over and introduced myself to the gentleman inside who was running the remodel job for an outfit called Wingstop; a chain of chicken part restaurants, the nearest of which seems to be in San Mateo.
They had already removed all the asbestos and pretty much gutted the interior and seemed to be making rapid progress. I guess they've decided to stick with the bizarre zigzag roofline, which, when I first moved to Ukiah, was one of a long-gone chain of restaurants with the politically incorrect name of Sambos.
I was delighted when passing by there this afternoon, to see a completely finished, beautifully crafted, mottled black and green composition shingle roof, with the large fascia areas around it painted a pleasing contrasting color. It is great to see this long derelict building being so nicely remodeled. The project manager told me that the funky gravel area out front was going to be an outdoor dining patio with overhead heaters for cold weather.
While it is far cry from some of the town's more handsome commercial structures, such as the simple, practical elegance of Ceja tire at the corner of Low Gap and State, it really looks like they're turning a sow's ear of a building into something closer to a silk purse. Congratulations to all involved in making that project happen; while it is not my normal dining preference, I'll definitely stop in and try their fare once they open.
One down, two to go; that takes care of one side of the rotten building gateway with which Ukiah has long greeted those entering our town from probably its most heavily used freeway off-ramps. Now, if someone would just come up with something nice to do with that old Fjord's eyesore; In-N-Out Burger? Transit hub? Any other ideas? Then, of course, there's the giant fiasco of the Palace. Don't get me started.
Letter To The Editor,
Tom Woodhouse and Holly Madrigal are competing in what promises to be another close battle for 3rd District Supervisor of Mendocino County. Both candidates have been involved in this community for years, Holly as a member of Willits City Council and Tom as a tireless behind-the-scenes volunteer in the schools, at the Senior Center, at City Council and CalTrans meetings, and as a Sheriff’s Department Community Service Supervisor. Tom has also worked independently with local youth to instill in them a sense of community. He has organized community cleanups as well as spent untold hours weed-eating and cleaning up our city streets by himself. He is an honest and hard-working businessman and family man. If you have not decided for whom to vote in this crucial election, please consider Tom Woodhouse. If you haven’t met him, please stop by his office at 2 North Street to discuss your concerns for the future of Mendocino County. He has a broad and creative view of what Mendocino County needs to stay solvent while providing the necessary infrastructure to ensure the safety and well-being of all of its citizens. He is environmentally conscious and will do his utmost to preserve the beauty and health of this beautiful country that we call home. I’m voting for Tom and I hope that you will, too.
Norma Hanson, Willits
STILL DRINKING THE COSTCO KOOL AID!
To the Editor:
This letter was presented to the Ukiah City Council meeting Wednesday October 15th. After trying to shut me down because I wanted to talk about the economic and financial impacts rather than merely the environmental impacts, they graciously allowed me to continue for three solid minutes! Hear no evil still prevails at the City Council.
Dear Council-members: Re: DEIR for Talmage Road Interchange Modification
During the five-year history of the Costco Project, no local government entity has seriously considered and reported upon the economic impact of the project nor upon its financial viability. The City's purchase of 15.3 acres of land for $2.34 million under the Redevelopment Program assumed further build-out of the Redwood Industrial Park made good sense although no examination of the expected new tax revenues, nor of the prospect of significant taxes lost as a result from shuttered enterprises was ever reported to the citizens. As originally planned, the $2.34 million land acquisition would be paid back to the City by Costco and used for the Talmage Interchange project. Any addition funds for traffic improvements and the like could be obtained under the same Redevelopment Account.
The majority of taxpayers are unaware that this Redevelopment Program was merely a slush fund — a tricky way to spend 20 years of future tax revenues right now and pay them back 30 years from now at hefty interest rates. This assumed that the Town would just grow and grow at over 2% per year for the unlimited futures. Well, now things have changed: The State Legislature totally shut down this slush fund in the middle of 2013, and the City was forbidden from using the $2.34 million from the land sale to Costco for traffic improvements to funnel customers to Costco. No new sources of money have been found to finance the approximately $6.4 million needed to handle traffic problems. As if this is not enough, the City is looking at having to pay back the bonds it took out way back in 2011 for the Redevelopment Program with interest rates building towards 6%. Economic hard times are upon us and a big spurt in tax revenues is unlikely any time soon.
Will Costco bring in sufficient taxes to the City to make all of this OK? We have never, never, never seen any projections of tax revenues from Costco nor from Walmart either that would justify the City Council's extravagance. What will be the impact of stores closing due to competition from Costco? Walmart has said they expect a 20% reduction in sales. Where are all these new customers expected to flock to the new Costco to come — Lake County?
No one in City Government has been forth-coming with us. Many of us have asked for a little straight-forward accounting over the years but we have gotten no response. The City Council passes these annoying questions on to staff and staff has seldom responded in a manner that us common people can decipher. People have grown tired of this old issue but it will not go away. We will have 3 out of 5 new Council Members at year end. How about a fresh look?
James Houle, Redwood Valley
DIRECT IT TO THE DISCRETIONARY FUND
It has come to my attention that the AV Health Center Board is having discussions with Dr. Mark Apfel. As these are in secret we can only surmise the nature of the discussions. Nevertheless many in this community hope that the Board won't bungle these discussions leading to more confusion and ill feeling and make every effort smooth out this bumpy episode.
A number of folks have commented about their reservations of contributing to the funding of the Health Center. My suggestion is: donate to the Health Center but target your donation to Dr. Apfel's discretionary fund which he uses to great effect when needed.
Dear AV Foodshed,
First I want to start off by saying thank you for all of your hard work in support of our community, and second I would like to apologize for failing to do my part to support your efforts.
I was unable to fulfill my obligation at the Buckhorn on the days that I committed to your calendar, and even with the overwhelming list of excuses, there's no good one.
As a local small business we do our very best to support the community, and, when available and possible, we buy locally, but we probably could do more.
In an effort to help fulfill our commitment to the AV Foodshed, and the community we have enlisted Jared Titus as the Chef of The Buckhorn. He will be working hard to insure that we are locally represented for not only the remainder of October, but well beyond.
Thanks again for your hard work and support, but more for your forgiveness.
Tom Towey, The Buckhorn
MAC’S MISSING TAX RETURNS
I just found a notice from the California Department of Justice about the Mendocino Art Center. It’s dated October 16, 2014. It looks like the Art Center hasn’t filed any tax returns with the State for two years running. If it doesn’t file the missing tax returns in thirty days, MAC can lose everything. It’s certainly possible. In 2011, the IRS revoked the tax-exempt status of a quarter-million nonprofits. Religious charities are at the bottom of Uncle Sam’s hit list. Arts organizations are at the top.
One of the missing tax returns is for 2012. Five months ago, MAC’s accountant assured me that it’d been already been filed.
That’s CPA Mark Adler. He referred me to GuideStar — an online resource for nonprofit filings. It was there. But something was missing: a stamp showing that it’d been received by the State. Nonetheless, I took Mr. Adler’s word and put it in my tickler file for October 17. That’s when I found the State DOJ notice.
MAC means a lot to me. I took my first art class there at age ten. That was in 1963. Founder Bill Zacha was a friend of mine. I was one of his pallbearers. Hell, I don’t want the place to go under. Everything seemed fine until 2010 until the alarm sounded. The Art Center’s board wanted money. But no questions. Like why. They obviously didn’t want anyone snooping through their records. An office fire had destroyed them all. Or so everyone around here was told. But a little Internet research turned up copies of the important stuff at the DOJ’s Registry of Charitable Trusts. Including MAC’s State approved articles of incorporation and bylaws. Along with ten years of tax returns. Looking through it, the problem was obvious.
Instead of being governed by dues-paying members per the State-approved bylaws, MAC is being operated by a self-appointed board that collects dues without any say from the general membership. As a public charity, MAC is required by law to produce bylaw amendments on request. So I asked for copies of any records showing that the Art Center’s general membership had approved any such change. That’s when I got a phone call from one MAC board member telling me to butt out. And not to show up on Art Center property again or I might be injured. So I left the questions to Google.
One search turned up a set of meeting minutes from 2010 where MAC’s board got a warning from attorney David Alden. According to Alden, Art Center assets had been distributed without the consent of its members. And if it were ever challenged, there’d be trouble. Another search revealed a set of new bylaws allowing self-dealing by MAC board members. That’s taboo for any organization under Federal law. Doubly so for nonprofits like MAC. Which is why I kept digging.
My first art teacher was Charles Stevenson. A kind and talented man. Stevenson left a handsome piece of Mendocino real estate to the Art Center. Then in 2009, somebody sold it for $1.2 million. But the Art Center’s tax return for that year showed it receiving only half that amount. Afterwards, the self-appointed board started making particularly bad hiring decisions. Starting with MAC’s new executive director, Karen Ely. Ms. Ely claimed thirty years of experience leading nonprofits. That she’d left her position as executive director at the Sedona Arts Center in 2009 to hook up with MAC. SAC’s tax return for that year says she wasn’t there. According to Ely’s online resume, her sole qualifications are self-publishing a book about the demise of her 32-year marriage and holding women’s retreats. Prior to her brief stint at MAC, Ely’s resume shows no experience whatsoever in running a nonprofit. Her inevitable failure drew the community’s ire, so MAC’s self-appointed board put Tom Becker on the job. Becker didn’t last long as executive director at MAC either. So the board replaced him with Liliana Cunha. Another flop. Then in 2012, the board replaced her with its current executive director, Lindsay Shields.
Ms. Shields’ work history includes a fifteen-year term as treasurer of a nonprofit called The Jagriti Foundation. Jagriti was chartered in 2000 with a mission to support international women’s groups, but not for long. According to the State DOJ, Jagriti’s nonprofit charter was revoked in 2004 for filing only one tax return. The Feds revoked it ten years later for the same reason. Yet there are three tax returns at GuideStar. Shields’ signature is on two of them. Under Shields’ watchful eye, nearly two hundred grand in gifts, grants and contributions passed through Jagriti’s coffers. Another of Ms. Shields’ gigs was a one-year term as board member with the Long Beach Police Foundation in 2009. Neither position appears on her online resume.
The only MAC record on file at the State DOJ from Shields is a registration renewal for 2012. On that form Shields swore — under penalty of perjury — that MAC’s gross annual revenue for that year was $759,116, and that MAC had audited financial statements to prove it. But according to the tax return on GuideStar, that amount was six figures less. The same tax return reported only $7,500 in accounting fees for that year — hardly enough for audited financial statements. And the signature page is blank. The most interesting part appears at the very end. That prior to filing, the tax return was ‘reviewed and approved by all MAC board members’.
In MAC’s meeting minutes for the last few years, there should be a record of that approval. But no minutes are available to the public anymore. So what about the tax return for 2009 when the Stevenson property was sold? Some board members never saw it. According to the minutes, it was filed on August 10, 2010. Who approved it? The same guy who signed it — Tom Becker. But not until 2011, when he was no longer on the board. And the tax return for 2010? It was never signed by anyone. Just like the ones for 2012 and 2013. The same tax returns the State DOJ is looking for.
One provision in MAC’s new bylaws allowed ‘Other Committees’ to be made up of non-board members. Like Mr. Becker. This included an ‘Investment Committee’ that can make financial decisions without board approval. These bylaws are dated July 24, 2003 and they’re unsigned. There’s no evidence that any MAC board member ever adopted them. With the exception of Mr. Becker, that is. Those bylaws appeared very briefly on MAC’s website. Along with several sets of board meeting minutes. Before they were taken down, I copied everything. In reviewing them, I recognized the names of two other individuals appointed to Mr. Becker’s ‘Other Committees’. The general membership was never told about either of them.
Finally I checked out MAC’s latest pick. CPA Mark Adler. How bad could it be with a Certified Public Accountant on board? The last set of minutes I could find reported that Mr. Adler was a current board member at San Diego’s Firehouse Museum. That was in March of 2013. The Firehouse Museum has a website. Check. Promoting itself as a tax deductable 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Check. Doing business as the Firehouse Foundation, Inc. Check. It’s on GuideStar too. Revoked for not filing tax returns three years running. Three years ago. Caught in the IRS dragnet of 2011. Oops!
In case any current board members think that not filing MAC’s tax returns won’t affect them, they’d better think again. If MAC’s nonprofit status is revoked, penalties won’t be levied against the Art Center. They’ll be charged to individual board members. That includes members of ‘Other Committees.’ Like Mr. Becker and his invisible friends. And the same folks responsible for reviewing and approving the tax returns that never got filed. Including Mr. Adler. It won’t cost the Art Center a penny. As soon as I got that notice, I emailed it to all the MAC board members. In the event Ms. Shields forgot to tell them about it. And to make sure it didn’t get lost in the mail, I emailed her a copy too. Mr. Adler got one as well.
If MAC’s missing tax returns ever turn up, it’ll be nice to know what all these folks have been hiding. Otherwise, we’ll see what the authorities do about it. Either way, this is bound to get interesting.
Should you have any information to help the Art Center preserve its nonprofit status, you can contact the DOJ at the email address provided on the notice: Delinquency@doj.ca.gov. Be sure to put CT File Number 042398 in the subject line. You can also reach MAC’s board of directors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott M. Peterson
AN INSIDER LOOKS AT THE HOSPITAL BOARD CANDIDATES
As a long time hospital employee I read Malcolm McDonald’s article with great interest. Like nearly all employees at the hospital, the future viability of MCDH is of great concern. Malcolm is spot on in saying that MCDH cannot continue the status quo.
Here are my comments on each board candidate, coming from the perspective of someone who has worked with all but one of these individuals (Carroll) at one time or another.
ROHR. Malcolm correctly identified Dr. Rohr as a self-absorbed megalomaniac. He was quite restrained at the forum. Anyone who has worked with him at the hospital will tell you that you could multiply his level of arrogance by ten when working directly with him. I’ve never met a single fellow employee who would agree with Malcolm’s assessment that he has the capability to fix the hospital. His credibility among hospital employees is nonexistent. While he’s a very smart man and an excellent surgeon, his egomania clouds his judgment and ability to listen to any alternative view. MCDH financial collapses actually began around twelve years ago under the direction of a CEO with a similar arrogant personality. As with Dr. Rohr, stating any alternative view was met with fierce resistance and could cost a person their job. My assessment is that Dr. Rohr will be very bad for the hospital, and his presence on the board may result in continued dysfunction and the opposite of what Malcolm expects.
Also, a little known fact is that he refuses to be an in-network physician for Blue Cross/Shield, which has the effect of increasing patient costs and forcing them to seek treatment out of town, and impacting hospital revenues; hardly consistent with someone who has the community as a priority.
GLUSKER. Dr. Glusker is an intelligent, thorough physician, extremely good at what he does. He is strong willed in his opinions, makes no attempt to sugarcoat issues, and will dig down into the minutiae if needed. Whether you agree with him or not, he is committed to a locally owned community hospital that is the best it can be. Glusker was unequivocal in his support of women’s rights. Not driven by ego, if he is presented with an alternative view, and is given good reasons for that view, he is willing to consider it and sometimes even change his position. It’s too bad that he aligned himself so closely with Rohr. He’s a completely different individual who could, unlike Rohr, actually get done the things he is promoting, including increases in quality and the patient ombudsman.
CARROLL. I have had no contact with Michael Carroll, only feedback from people who know him, and my impression of him from the candidate’s forum. I personally found him to be a refreshing change from the other more agenda-driven candidates. He seems to understand that success includes a lot of human factors, something that seems lost on some other candidates. I believe his experience with small firms is an advantage, not a disadvantage. Over the years, one of MCDH’s biggest problems has been with individuals in management whose history is large corporations, attempting to apply those principles in a small hospital. They have consistently failed to the hospital’s detriment. It just doesn’t work.
BRUNING. Kitty Bruning is a nurse, not a politician, and unfortunately didn’t carry herself as well at the candidate’s forum as the others. That being said, she is far from “mildly clueless.” She is very experienced with several areas of the hospital, having worked as a floor nurse, a nurse manager (where incidentally she had to manage a budget), and a case manager. Most patient safety issues happen at the nursing level, and her experience would provide an important perspective that could end up complementing Glusker’s efforts to improve quality. She is also the only female candidate, and a women’s perspective on things is important.
KERMEN. Dr. Kermen is the incumbent candidate and Malcolm’s criticisms are points well taken, and shared by several employees. He has the burden of having overseen two failed hospital administrations. However, it is important for people to be aware that of all the candidates Dr. Kerman has steadfastly refused to support discontinuing services, most notably the ambulance service and obstetrics, even if they lose money, and he can be relied on to support those services again. As for the comments on a parcel tax, Malcolm seem to zero in on Kermen as the main promoter of a parcel tax. The fact is every candidate supports a parcel tax, without exception. The unit tax or flat parcel tax decision would be more driven by what is expected to be most successful in the polls.
So there you have it. Thanks for reading this far, and for allowing a hospital employee’s perspective into the discussion.
Due to possible retaliation I must remain,
A SIMPLE VA HOSPITAL FIX
Dear Representative Huffman,
Due to our war-based economy Veterans Administration hospitals are overwhelmed. The solution, however, is quite simple. Introduce legislation that requires the War Department (known in Orwellian doublespeak as the Department of Defense) to pay for the Part B Medicare for all vets over 65 years of age. This bill would clear up the logjam created by all the Vietnam vets who will further stress the system as they age. I know of many who travel eight hours to visit the nearest VA hospital. With your bill, these needs can be met locally.
The cost of this legislation could easily be paid for by not buying the new, useless F-35 boondoggle which has already cost the taxpayers over $400 billion or $1265 per American citizen just for development costs, or $50 for every human on earth.
So, do we really support our troops or just the war profiteers and the 1%?
Thank you for giving this your consideration.