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Letters (Jan 7, 2015)

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To the Editor:

Now that the voting has been finalized, it's time to congratulate the three candidates that won seats during the recent election for Ukiah City Council. Jim Brown, Kevin Doble, and Maureen "Mo" Mulheren are our newest council leaders, making difficult decisions that can, and will, affect our city, our lives, and the way the city staff conducts business as a whole. All three candidates were grilled over many different issues facing our small town; they fought a good battle, and emerged victorious. My hat is off to our new council members, who have shown that they are willing to take the heat, answer the tough questions, and make the right decisions as we move forward with a refreshed and hopeful outlook.

For those individuals and organizations that endorsed a candidate in this election, those of you who took an active stance in regards to the future of this community that we all love, regardless of whom you backed, I commend you in stepping up to help propel our city council into a direction that will hopefully overcome a past that has been marred by oft-times convoluted and divisive politics.

The Ukiah Firefighters Union, Local 3686, comprised of firefighters from the City of Ukiah Fire Department, is one of the organizations that took a step towards a brighter future in endorsing not one, but all three of our newest council members, as well city council candidate Mark Hilliker, a former City of Ukiah Fire Department fire-captain and longtime Ukiah valley resident. The Firefighters Union felt that, from the perspective of community safety, it was imperative that they make a strong and concerted effort in helping to propel into office those candidates that would keep public safety an important and non-negotiable topic in the eyes of the city council. Beyond their efforts in the city council race, the Firefighters Union also devoted considerable time and effort to get a "yes" vote on Measure P, the continuation of the half-cent sales tax that goes directly towards funding your local fire and police departments.

Keeping with the spirit of community involvement, and trying to expand upon the eager involvement that was seen in our recent election, the Ukiah Firefighters Union is looking forward to the possibility of beginning a series of town-hall meetings and community workshops in an effort to educate the community on fire safety, while opening up discussions in an effort to find ways to better serve its community while working within the confines of a decreased budget, a down economy, and fewer firefighters.

Please join me in thanking our new candidates for stepping up to the plate and making our city's future their top priority, and our local Firefighters Union for their political presence and perseverance in providing big city service with small town heart.

Pete Bushby


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Dear Editor:

President Abbas of the State of Palestine is playing a good game of chess as he forced a vote on the French resolution in the UN Security Council which he knew could not pass. Then he followed up the next day by requesting membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC). It should be noted the United States and Israel are not members of the ICC and are not in a position to block the membership request. There is a 90 date wait period before actions can be requested, After that time one should not be surprised if action is requested, particularly on actions of Israel during the Gaza war. He also signed 18 other treaties with international organizations. In looking over the list I do see a couple which could create problems for Israel.

As expected Israel and the United States are strongly opposed to President Abbas' actions. Israel obviously wants to continue on its path of an oppressive apartheid control of the occupied territories and Congress which is a running dog for the Israeli lobby will cut all their funding for the State of Palestine. Do not be surprised if Dubai and other Emirate states fund its operations. Also, I should mention the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDC) Movement which is an anti-apartheid international action against Israeli businesses operating in the occupied territories is having increasing successful actions in both the United States and Europe.

In peace,

Jim Updegraff


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Subject: KZYX 2015 Board Vacancy

January 2, 2015

Dear Mr. Dennis O'Brien:

Thanks for all you do for community radio, Denny. Thank you. Thank you.

That said, as a KZYX Board member I enthusiastically welcome your candidacy for the KZYX Board. I need the company of someone like yourself on the KZYX Board. I can't even get a second for most of my motions. Being the lone dissident voice on a "rubber stamp Board" installed by KZYX management has been a very lonely place for me to be during this last year. Being the lone voice for change has left me not just isolated on the Board, but also vilified and pilloried by both the Board and KZYX management.

Here's what you can expect during the election: KZYX management has a huge home field advantage. If your candidacy seems viable, you can be certain that KZYX management will recruit one or more other candidates to run against you, as was the case with Doug McKenty (There was no candidate more qualified in the 25-year history of KZYX than Doug.). Or you will be minimized and mocked, as has been usually the case with the perennial candidacy of King Collins in every election cycle for the last ten years. (I admire and respect King.)

Expect that KZYX management will organize against you and get out the vote for your opponent(s).

Expect that KZYX management will endorse your opponent(s) both publicly and behind the scenes.

Expect that KZYX management will spread false rumors about you, i.e., you are a "troublemaker"; you are a "complainer"; you are a "lawyer and a litigator" and "like to sue"; you are "destructive, not constructive". And on and on. I can hear them already. Whew!

In the above, you should be ever-vigilant, Denny. You should be prepared to file complaints of election violations with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting).

Here's the good news: the FCC has yet to renew KZYX's licenses. There's more. Complaints filed with the Ombudsman at the CPB, who did little to investigate violations at KZYX, have now found their way to the Inspector General at the CPB.

Chief among these complaints is the fact that money earmarked by KZYX for a Ukiah studio is missing -- $5,000 in community donations, $5,000 from a family foundation grant, and $9,000 from a 2014 KZYX budget line item. That's $19,000 total that has gone missing. This is serious.

Another serious complaint is that one manager at KZYX controls all programming — every aspect of programming — which may explain why programming is safe, boring, and bland, NPR-driven, and highly "yuppified" in the words of one observer in the community.

Here's more: KZYX membership numbers are absolutely stagnant. KMUD and KMEC are taking market share from the near-monopoly that KZYX once enjoyed. People are starting to pay attention. Also, KZYX underwriting revenues have been declining for the last five or six years.

Finally, Denny, during your campaign keep in mind one overriding reality at KZYX: KZYX is not community radio, nor is it public radio; first and foremost, KZYX is a jobs program for the people who work there full-time. These people are either too incompetent to get a job anyplace else, or they are too entrenched and unwilling to relocate. That's mainly why KZYX is a jobs program and a private clubhouse. It's job security. One member of management has been at KZYX for its entire 25-year history. The others are pushing ten or more years. Little wonder that KZYX staff will not disclose their salaries, despite numerous demands from both the public and the press to do so.

Salaries are secret.

What happened to the missing $19,000 for a Ukiah studio is secret.

What isn't secret is that the GM at KZYX gave himself a 10 percent raise in the summer of 2013. This is precisely the timeframe that Mendocino County government workers were losing their jobs to attrition or layoffs — about 30% of the workforce. The remaining workers were forced to take a 10% pay cut. For the GM at KZYX to get a 10% raise is appalling. It shows an appalling lack of solidarity with county workers.

Incidentally, I did not vote for this raise. I was locked out of the vote. The KZYX Board voted for the raise an hour before I was seated as a Board member.

Bottom line? KZYX isn't about radio. It's all about money. All about money. And the money in question? An annual budget of $650,000.

Good luck, Denny. I hope the members of KZYX are paying close attention during the 2015 Board election. The very survival of the station may be at stake.


John Sakowicz

Host and producer of "All About Money"

Member & former treasurer of the KZYX Board


PS. Three cheers for Dennis O’Brien. Hip Hip Hurray! Hip Hip Hurray! Hip Hip Hurray!

I’m very much looking forward to the settlement conference has been set for Feb. 25 at 1:30 PM in Superior Court regarding the Board of Supervisors and their refusal to disclose its decisions and individual votes to the public of closed session items, but to instead only report out of closed sessions with the meaningless, catch-all phrase, “direction was given to staff.”

That said, I don’t blame the Board of Supervisors. I won’t even blame County Counsel. Instead, look to the County CEO. She runs Mendocino County. Her five-year contract of $180,000 a year tells you all you need to know. The County CEO is by far the highest paid county employee.

The County CEO is paid even more than the judges of the Superior Court and also the District Attorney, even though they are much more highly educated and have law degrees. The County CEO only has a nursing degree, I’m told.

The County CEO is paid more than the Sheriff, even though the Sheriff’s budget and number of employees under his management are orders of magnitude bigger than the County CEO’s budget and number of employees.

The County CEO is paid more than the Sheriff, even though the Sheriff and his deputies are responsible for preserving the peace, enforcing criminal statutes, and investigating known or suspected criminal activity. The Sheriff and his deputies put themselves in harm’s way every minute of every day. They make life and death decisions every day.

The Sheriff’s Office can receive up to 41,308 calls for service in any given year (2002).

The Sheriff and his deputies are also specifically charged by statute with the duty to operate the County jail, receive, and serve various forms of civil process, and act as bailiff in the superior courts. They also put themselves in harm’s way.

So if you’re wondering why the Board’s closed sessions are more secret than they need to be, look to the person who really runs Mendocino County and gets paid the most. I have heard county workers refer to the County CEO as “the real shot caller” and “the Tony Soprano of county government”.

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On Friday, while trying to access Sheriff’s Business Office which was closed, regarding information on in custody death information, I noticed a talkative gentle giant Sheriff's Correctional Officer feeding coins into one of the vending machines just outside of main door to the Mendocino County Jail.

I brought up subject of nutritional content and hazards of typical vending machine food and snacks, which were offered for sale at this location. 'Bad actor' ingredients which have been proven to adversely affect behavior and or health outcomes to some extent, and available in this machine, include aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and Pepsi product claiming to contain 'Real Sugar'.

The later 'Real Sugar' drink was not identified as unbleached cane sugar, so by default, would normally contain the least expensive sugar in commercial use, which would be processed from GMO Sugar Beets. GMO foodstuff has been declared functionally equivalent to non GMO foods, at the behest of a government bureaucrat formerly working long-term for Monsanto Corporation, which is the source for much of the GMO technology in current US food production supermarket sales.

The County jail employee mentioned above, whose Cro-Magnon body profile, except for sort of resembling Zippy The Pinhead cartoon character (no insult intended) on steroids (think 6 ft 8inches and 350 pounds), said he would prefer Honest Tea products be available in the vending machine. This is a Coca-Cola Company owned entity which produces bottled organic tea.

It is unclear yet whether General Service or the Sheriff has oversight over the product content of contracted vending machines at the Jail. County Counsel Doug Losak has confirmed Friday that the vending machine contents has not been considered with Risk Management Loss Prevention planning to minimize financial exposure to the County. No additional information is available at this time.

Eric Sunswheat

Potter Valley

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