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Off the Record (Feb 11, 2015)

WILLITS AND UKIAH emerged mostly unscathed from the big winds and rains of last weekend, suffering no power outages inside their city limits. Ukiah, incidentally, is civic proof that municipalities can elude the power-eating monopoly of PG&E by operating its own power system, just as Green Bay, Wisconsin, proves that cities can own and operate pro football franchises. Ukiah isn't quite ready for the NFL, but there are other government ways of doing things that actually benefit everyone....

SPEAKING OF WILLITS, the guys working on the Bypass, a section of which famously collapsed a couple of weeks ago, have been warned by their bosses not to talk about anything related to the magnificently botched project.

A CALLER wants it brought up: "It's rude and arrogant of our supervisors to look at their cell phones while people are addressing them." Agreed. Checking the video of the most recent meeting of the County's leadership, we see the four male members of the board electronically distracted, Woodhouse and Gjerde not so much, McCowen and Hamburg a lot. Carrie Brown, a child of the 1950s, when good manners were still assumed, of course remains fully attentive at all times. In defense of the distracted, especially during windy presentations by County department heads, they couldn't be blamed if they simultaneously read War and Peace while the bureaucrats droned on. And a note to new Supe Woodhouse: Don't say, “I'll be brief” then ramble on for five minutes. Get to the point and get off, Tom. For pure arrogance, however, the “liberal” members of the Fort Bragg City Council take the Rude trophy going away, especially that nut in charge of the speaker's time clock.

GRAMMY KNOWS BEST. Hillary Clinton, reacting to the retro immunization remarks of Republicans Chris Christie and Rand Paul, tweeted her followers, “The science is clear: The Earth is round, the sky is blue, and vaccines work. Let’s protect all our kids. GrandmothersKnowBest.” Christie had said that parents should have a “measure of choice” on vaccinations then, reacting to the tsunami of criticism his ignorant statement elicited said, “The governor believes vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated.” Kentucky Senator Rand Paul told reactionary talk-radio host Laura Ingraham that he’s “not anti-vaccine at all,” but that “most of them ought to be voluntary.”

ON LINE COMMENT: The movie 'American Sniper' is a bit strange. I would like to know what you think of this movie? I tend to be of the view that 'American Sniper' (or rather the life of Chris Kyle as depicted in the movie) represents to blue collar white Americans what white Life should be like, i.e., the heroic selfless white American warrior who vanquishes Evil while his devoted white wife waits for him stateside with the kids. Right? They seem to have a strong desire or need that the story of Chris Kyle is true? I get the impression that many white Americans closely identify with this movie. It seems to have a very strong propaganda effect on them? I suppose that it probably beats the dim, dire Reality of working at WalMart?

YOU REALLY want to annoy me? Say something along the lines of, “Well, you guys really aren't a newspaper…”

YOU MEAN A REAL NEWSPAPER with horoscopes and sex ads and bulletins about what Madonna wore to the Degenerate's Ball? Or a real newspaper like the Press Democrat of Monday Feb 9, 2015? “Lifestyle. Locals open up about first loves, lessons learned. Readers share memories of the first time they fell victim to cupid's arrow, and how it shaped their views on romance today.”

THIRTY-EIGHT PEOPLE COMMITTED SUICIDE by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in 2014, according to the Bridge Rail Foundation. 46 made the leap in 2013, 33 in 2012, 37 in 2011 and 32 in 2010. The Bridge Authority's increased patrols detained 161 people deemed suicide risks in 2014. The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District’s board last year approved a $76 million funding plan for a suicide net. The barrier is expected to be completed in 2019.

ACCORDING TO KZYX's 2012 990 IRS form, KZYX GM John Coate earned $54,000 for that year. During the recording of the Monday night Board meeting someone (we're not sure who) announced that Coate's salary has since been raised to $60k annually.

CRITICS who say Coate is hiding his salary are incorrect. It's right there in plain public view. Whether Coate's annual work product warrants $60 grand is another question. As is whether or not his $60 grand is excessive for an organization with a $600,000 annual budget. Doesn't seem so to me. And while we're talking "free speech" public radio, Marco McClean's idea that programmers be paid is totally 5150. The original idea of public radio was VOLUNTEER, and it was a good idea which, especially lately, has been perverted into a jobs program for, uh, unpleasant people. To give audiophiles like Marco a fair shot at air time, Mendo Public Radio ought to at least put a tenure limit on its programmers, many of whom apparently get a life-lock on the public airwaves. But with Mary The  Perpetually Aggrieved in charge of access, a woman with an enemies list rivaling the CIA's, Marco and the rest of the dissidents ought to permanently reconcile themselves to KMEC. The public radio model, of course, remains KMUD out of Garberville, the only genuinely public radio station in all of California, maybe the U.S.

THE COPS are warning Fort Bragg businesses that someone is passing off “washed” $5 dollar bills as $100 dollar bills. The master forger is “washing” the ink off of a $5 dollar bill and photo copying the front and back of a $100 dollar bill onto the “washed” $5 dollar bill. The bill has the look and feel of real money because it is an actual $5 dollar bill that has been washed of the mint ink and replaced with a color photo copy of a $100 dollar bill to the front and back of the bill, so the counterfeit marker pins will not show the paper as fake. Hold that baby up to the light, though, and it's evident you're looking at a cut and paste job. You might also know at a glance that the tweaker who's handed you the hundred is unlikely to possess that much cash.

KC MEADOWS writes in the Ukiah Daily Journal: "We agree with the Board of Supervisors that it's high time to look at what will happen in our county when the inevitable legalization of marijuana in California is achieved. There are productive conversations to be had about how legalization could affect our environment, our finances, our law enforcement and our culture. But what we never see discussed - and what we think is a very important aspect of legalization - is what happens to Prop. 215. We think that any legislative or ballot effort to legalize marijuana throughout the state of California must include the repeal of Prop. 215. Prop. 215 has been a disaster for the state. It's well-meaning purpose - to provide medical marijuana for the grievously and terminally ill - quickly turned into a nightmare when greedy people ready to make large amounts of quick untaxed cash, aided and abetted by unscrupulous and equally greedy doctors handing out medical marijuana prescriptions, made marijuana cultivation a neighborhood menace and an environmental calamity. Neither the Legislature nor the courts could help because Prop. 215 had been so broadly written it gave a virtual blank check to anyone who wanted to grow pot for profit. If Prop. 215 is not repealed as part of the overall legalization of marijuana use and cultivation in this state, the same greedy growers will continue to claim a medical exemption from whatever regulations come with legalization. With legalization, the state can say, for instance, that all marijuana growing must be carried out on agriculturally zoned land or indoors under strict conditions and include regulations about fertilizers, pesticides and water use. The production would likely be taxed. If Prop. 215 in still in place, however, your neighbor could still claim a doctor's recommendation to grow 100 plants of "medical" marijuana, free of taxation, using your shared water table on the other side of your fence. And it would be as easy to sell on the black market as it is now. There are those who will argue that legalization will bring the price of pot down to a point that makes it unprofitable to grow in the back yard. But regardless of the price, there will be plenty of black market pot needed just over the state borders and Prop. 215 will give those black market growers all the room they need to maneuver. If we repeal Prop. 215 in conjunction with legalizing marijuana, we make all marijuana growing outside the agreed upon cultivation rules subject to prosecution. With marijuana legal, there will be no shortage of places to get it for the recreational smoker or for the medical user. We tried giving people a chance to grow a little pot in the back yard. Greedy people made a mockery of that experiment. If we are going to legalize marijuana it must be treated like the industry it has become."

A LOOMING BALLOON NOTE and a malicious competitor's lawsuit have combined to imperil the popular South Coast eatery, Bones Roadhouse. Owners Mike Thomas and his wife, Mary Horton, have always done big business in Gualala, but a fire at their original location, a re-location, the vindictive lawsuit, and expensive re-financing may be too much to overcome. Bones is looking for investors to get him over the re-fi hump.

IN THE NICK of time Bones got a boost. According to the Independent Coast Observer, "enough 'friends of Bones' had stepped forward to give Bone's Roadhouse in Gualala a 60-90 day reprieve from a threatened February 6 foreclosure. With more than $9000 raised from members and some outright donations to fend off a lien sale, Michael 'Bone Daddy' Thomas called it a 'stay of execution' for the popular barbecue restaurant. He is still scrambling for a long-term solution for a $550,000 loan that was due January 1. Thomas and his wife Mary Horton took out the interest only loan five years ago after a fire destroyed their previous restaurant...."

AFTER MAKING HIM OUT to be the second coming of John Dillinger and causing old ladies of all ages and genders to turn off their lights and double bolt their doors and windows, Riley Gordon Kiesel, after several “armed and dangerous” manhunt pronouncements, the Sheriff’s office arrested Kiesel without difficulty on Wednesday on a HumCo warrant for a probation violation. At booking Kiesel was also charged with pot cultivation and being an ex-felon with a firearm.

IF YOU LIVE IN MARIN COUNTY and missed Tuesday (Feb 3rd) night’s Daily Show, well, consider yourself lucky. As an outbreak of measles — at least partially fueled by unvaccinated children — continues to spread, vaccinations, or the lack thereof, have become a hot topic. California lawmakers introduced a law that would ban “personal belief exemptions,” which allow unvaccinated children to register for classes in public schools. Such exemptions have become a talking point for both the current president and the cast of characters who hope to replace him. And, as is the case with almost anything getting the kind of attention the measles outbreak is getting, the Daily Show took the opportunity to poke some fun.

UKIAH'S CITY MANAGER Jane Chambers’ announced resignation almost certainly is a case of jumping before being pushed. Chambers is smart enough to know she no longer has a Council that will automatically do her bidding. She got a strong taste of that last month when the Council slam-dunked her proposal to hire a consultant for $15,000 to set goals. It is a pretty sure bet that the present Council would also have balked at paying $30,000 in public funds for a dining platform for their favorite restaurant; $23,000 for the “Far Out, Nearby” slogan heralding Ukiah's delights; $43,000 to plant a few bushes in front of the electrical substation on Gobbi, and other silliness while the streets crumble and the sewer and water bills shoot through the roof.

CHAMBERS' performance is open to question since she has been unable to balance the budget for six consecutive years. Under Chambers' leadership, Ukiah was milking the Redevelopment Agency for $1 million a year to pay admin salaries. When the state killed Redevelopment a couple of years ago, Chambers laid off police, firefighters and parks and rec workers and kept her bloated admin bureaucracy intact. Chambers also eliminated the local ambulance service, alienated the firefighters, engineered a giveaway deal with the local garbage company and became embroiled in a $27 million lawsuit with the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District. Her reign was characterized by a series of blunders, cheered on by a city council consisting of only a single competent person, Mr. Crane.

ASSISTANT CITY MANAGER SAGE SANGIACOMO might seem to have the inside track among internal candidates to replace Chambers since he has worked on major projects like Redevelopment and Costco. Sangiacomo is smart and personable, but in the minds of some may be too closely tied to the present City Manager. Mayor Crane, the only holdover from the Council that hired Chambers, has announced his intention to hold a meeting with the department heads being brought in one by one to meet with the Council. This could give the Council an opportunity to ask if any of them are interested in the City Manager position or if they support any of the other department heads. Ukiah Police Chief Chris Dewey's name has also been mentioned as a possible successor. Dewey is smart, seems to have the respect of his staff, and has done well with community outreach. He also serves at the will of the City Manager which may explain why his answers to the Council are always tentative and his words carefully chosen. Can he step out of Chambers' shadow if given the chance?

‘SHE'S JUST FAKING IT.’ Home from hospital, bicyclist recounts being struck by car near Ukiah

ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE WEEK: "If these cyclists would stay home, sit on the sofa and watch television like I do this never would have happened. These liberals think if they ride a bike all over tarnation that they will live forever. I'm a senior citizen and I'm doing just fine. Every once in a while I walk to the living room from the family room, sit down and watch my artificial plant grow. That's enough exercise for me."

PINOLEVILLE'S MEGA-GROW ON HOLD? Mendo's two top law enforcement officers seem to have delayed the Pinoleville tribe's announced plans to allow a Colorado-based marijuana corporation to establish an industrial-size grow on tribal land just north of Ukiah. Sheriff Allman says a productive meeting with tribal reps, as described in the Ukiah Daily Journal, seems to have convinced the tribe to put the brakes on the project.

DA DAVID EYSTER, via office spokesman Mike Geniella, said Eyster still hasn't received a response to his written request for detailed project information. Geniella said Eyster sent out a lengthy request for information by certified mail to FoxBarry, United Cannabis and the Pinoleville tribe. “He's (Eyster) giving them the appropriate amount of time,” Geniella said. “Supposedly FoxBarry is saying they're going to be meeting with local officials, but we haven't heard from them, nor have they scheduled anything. Eyster will not meet with them unless they provide answers to his detailed questions.”

LITERALISTS. Annie Proulx is probably best known for the movie version of her short story, Brokeback Mountain, about two gay cowboys who went up the hill where they enjoyed each other so much they didn't feel much like coming back down. “I wish I'd never written the story,” Ms. Proulx has told the Paris Review. "It's just been the cause of hassle and problems and irritation since the film came out." The problem is fans who didn't like the unhappy ending and regularly send her letters suggesting alternatives. “I think it's important to leave spaces in a story for readers to fill in from their own experience, but unfortunately the audience that Brokeback reached most strongly have powerful fantasy lives. And one of the reasons we keep the gates locked here is that a lot of men have decided that the story should have had a happy ending. They can't bear the way it ends. So they rewrite the story, including all kinds of boyfriends and new lovers and so forth after Jack is killed. And it just drives me wild. They can't understand that the story isn't about Jack and Ennis. It's about homophobia; it's about a social situation; it's about a place and particular mindset and morality.”

IN 1959, A CHILD WAS VACCINATED FOR DPT, polio, and smallpox. During the ’50s, an estimated 3-4 million people were infected with measles each year, resulting in an annual mortality of 400-500 people. Nearly all children were infected with the virus by the time they were 15. On average, 48,000 people were hospitalized annually, and in any given year 4,000 people developed encephalitis, a debilitating and often forgotten consequence of the disease. Not until 1963 did John Enders and his colleagues develop the first strain of measles vaccine and license it.

BEFORE vaccines controlled the spread of epidemics, our parents and grandparents relied on isolation and avoidance as a means to prevent disease. This method has historical roots reaching back to the Middle Ages and even before.

QUARANTINE, or the separation of infected individuals, was recorded in the Old Testament, but the first organized effort came in response to the Black Death in 1348. Venice was the first municipality to implement a policy of forbidding ships to dock if the ships were suspected of harboring plague. Forty days, or quarantine, is an arbitrary number attributed to the fasting season of Lent. It was believed the plague would take 40 days to incubate and show its effects. The logic of the practice was plainly persuasive, because it wasn’t long before the policy was adopted by other European countries. (— Mary Lawrence)

BRIAN WILLIAMS. Excuse me, but what's all the fuss? So what if Williams is the kind of needy guy who's got to puff himself up by lying about the dangers he's faced as a show biz news reader who occasionally appears in a war zone, broadly defined by news anchors as an entire country, where he dons a helmet for a photo op of a few lines scripted by someone else and immediately flies the hell outtathere.

LISTEN CAREFULLY HERE: You've got to be a nut to be a news anchor. And nobody takes them seriously anyway except the New York Times. Think of the personality perversions involved — faking real feeling for sad events and all the rest of the manufactured sentiment these TV actors are handsomely paid to convey night after night, year after year. Unless they're total sociopaths — which in most cases seems to be the case — you know that what you're doing is all a lie, all faked, a soul destroying charade which, at some deep level of being the anchor knows has made him or her so cosmically false that he goes even crazier, as Williams did to make himself seem what his entire professional life puts the lie to. The poor guy is so removed from reality he forgot he was saying this stuff on national television, and that out of our fine, fat population of 300 million a few people were doing some fact checking.

RECOMMENDED DINING: Ro Cafe, 5th and California, San Francisco. A hole-in-the-wall place operated by a Kurdish couple. Disclaimer: I'm not a foodie. I'm a food-as-fuel guy, which isn't to say I don't appreciate good food, but which is to say three-four hour meals of the fine dining type I strictly avoid. West of I-5 in Northern California you now have to go out of your way to eat bad food. There's good food everywhere, especially from San Francisco north. Right here in Mendocino County every community offers at least one venue where you can get something good to eat — maybe not healthy but good, although I haven't been to Covelo lately and the last time I was there it was a culinary desert. Ditto for Laytonville. But most of our settled communities offer the better fuels. Anyway, the other afternoon, after a long walk out to the Golden Gate, I stopped to re-fuel at Ro, not knowing what to expect. Starting off with a perfect cup of coffee, I ordered feta beef rolls, recognizing only that feta as some kind of cheese. It did indeed come in rolls, the feta inside strips of tender beef. It was wonderful, a full meal with a side of the freshest sliced tomatoes this side of my garden, and all for $11 bucks. Ro is tiny. A couple of tables inside, a bench outside. I chose the bench to free myself from a type I instinctively flee, but this guy was also near the counter pestering the young woman staffing the place all by herself when I ordered. I couldn't avoid him. The type? A middle aged bald guy with a pony tail — a groovy guy. There are lots of them in Mendo, but we are after all a kind of open-air hippie museum so we expect them. This guy had me trapped. As soon as I walked in with my custom Kalantarian walking stick, I got an overly familiar, “Well, here comes John Muir” from the pony tail. A lady being present, a Kurdish immigrant yet, I wanted to present a good civic American example for her. I couldn't just say, “One more word from you and you die.” Groovy Guy, grinning like a cannibal, immediately asked, “Where you from?” I made the fatal error of replying, “Mendocino County,” whereupon GG launched into a long monologue on the general theme of marijuana legalization, medical marijuana and hemp, three mesmerizingly boring subjects that all Mendocino County residents have heard all possible versions of and zone out at the mere mention of. As Groovy Guy droned on, I tested his attentiveness by crossing my eyes and bouncing my eyebrows. (I got caught doing that once. An older lady was going on and on about how bad Bush was or something equivalently revelatory so I crossed my eyes at her. “Why are you doing that?” she demanded. I gave her some bullshit about an “eye problem” and she was thrown off topic long enough for me to escape.) But this guy was on a roll. The most extreme facial tics wouldn't shut him down. And he was still rambling on — “And you know they even make rope outta hemp” — when the young woman handed my food to me and I walked outside into the sunshine where, as a precaution against him following me, I sat down in the middle of the two-person bench and ate my first Kurdish food ever in the wan winter sun of late afternoon California Street.

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