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Off the Record (Apr 29, 2015)

ONE OF THE FISHERMEN who died in that terrible Bodega Bay boating accident two weekends ago was Richard Hargreaves Jr., 59. Richard Hargreaves Sr. spent many years as a union rep at the Fort Bragg mill. A very nice man of 84 years, and a living history of area logging and millwork, Richard Sr. had lived in Willits before moving to Redding. His wife of many years died last month. It's a great life if you don't weaken, and this strong man has our deepest sympathies.

THE CITY OF FORT BRAGG issued a chaste press release making it seem like their popular long-time police officer, John Naulty, had simply retired, although to the rest of us it looks like Naulty, denied the Chief's job he should have gotten, decided he'd rather not work for the ingrates currently running the town. The Naulty press release also describes Naulty as "…involved in subduing an Oregon gunman who killed Mendocino County sheriff’s Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino last year in Cleone."

"SUBDUING"? Fort Bragg can't even bring its terminally deceptive self to say that Naulty shot the rampaging lunatic to death, thus sparing Fort Bragg more mayhem from the guy?

NAULTY was one of four finalists for Fort Bragg Police Chief, but the job went to a double dipper from LA, a guy with a dubious history of sleeping with commies to spy on them for the LAPD's wacky yesteryear red squad. Fort Bragg's opaque leadership now has their own LA guy as Chief, having eased former Chief Mayberry over the hill to a job with the Mendocino County DA. Leave it to the libs to get the shiv deep into the back of Mayberry's logical successor who, by all rights and knowledge of the community, should have gotten the job.


Out of crumbled bricks

They tried to rebuild an era

Sadly, lost forever.

— Emjay Wilson

JUST ASKING, but is the downtown smoking ban sought by the City of Fort Bragg aimed at the venerable Tip Top Club, a wonderful bar in the center of town? Hands off the Tip Top!


THE ONGOING DROUGHT has again raised concern that Lake Mendocino and the upper Russian River it feeds is being depleted faster than is healthy. Since most of the water stored in the lake is owned by Sonoma County, Mendo is totally dependent on SoCo to regulate flows from the lake in a manner that doesn't harm the businesses along the river who depend on a dependable summer flow. SoCo has now magnanimously appealed to the State Water Board to reduce Lake Mendo outflows by the first of June. “Our region must continue to respond proactively to the ongoing drought and filing this petition is just one tool we have to preserve as much water supply in our reservoirs as possible,” said Water Agency Director Efren Carrillo. “Conditions on the river will be similar to those seen in 2013 which means flows will support recreational activities on the river. Business will be open as usual along the Russian River.”

CALTRANS says work on the Willits Bypass "is scheduled to be completed this September."

A COUPLE of egregiously hypocritical letters to the Fort Bragg City Council from Ortner and Tom Pinizzotto are among the more flagrantly self-interested of those hoping the Council will approve funding for the conversion of the Old Coast Hotel to an extension of Ortner's for-profit mental health services.

FACT: So far, Ortner has provided few "services" for the $7-8 annual million in privatized mental health assistance the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has given him. It can't be pointed out often enough that Pinizzotto is Ortner's former right hand man at Ortner's Yuba City-based, for-profit mental health business. Pinizzotto now functions as one of Mendocino County's highly paid mental health bureaucrats. He reports to the Supervisors on the swell job his old boss is now doing for Mendocino County's mentally ill. For the Ortner complex Mendocino County is a virtual motherlode of free money with no accountability attached, unless you consider Pinizzotto a reliable reporter on how effectively his old boss is serving Mendocino County's mentally ill.

OF COURSE Pinizzotto's shilling for his former employer doesn't stop with merely running interference for Ortner before the Supervisors, he and Ortner have now cast their covetous eyes on Fort Bragg's Old Coast Hotel.

THE Fort Bragg City Council is about to buy Old Coast for Ortner via a “forgivable loan” of public money approaching a million dollars. One wonders that when the loan is “forgiven,” whose name will be on the deed. And wouldn't you like to get yourself a “forgivable” loan which, of course, means you're under no obligation to pay it back. Prediction, when the Ortner Gang has taken possession of Old Coast they'll wait a couple of years then, as memories fade, they'll stop paying the money back, pleading that they can't afford to because they need to do more for their clients.

THESE TWO CHARACTERS, Pinizzotto and Ortner, cherry pick reimbursable mental health patients from among Mendocino County's large population of troubled people. They ignore the difficult cases. Those cases, the difficult ones, pre- and post-Ortner, are housed at the County Jail where many of them arrive on a rotating basis. There is no help for most of them, certainly not from the mercenary Ortner who is involved in mental health because it has made him rich and, thanks to Mendocino County, a lot richer.

THE LOOMING CONVERSION of the Old Coast Hotel is a perfect example of Cash and Carry Compassion. Very few of the players would otherwise be involved. Fort Bragg is being hustled big time. The vague services the Ortner-Hospitality complex have thus far described could just as well be housed in more modest circumstances, as they are in most communities.

MENDO AG COMMISSIONER, Chuck Morse, says three Light Brown Apple Moths have been discovered in Fort Bragg. Morse said a quarantine is being established to confine the insect to Fort Bragg.

NATIVE TO Australia, the moth is found throughout California and has been present in Mendocino County since last July when moths were found in Hopland and Fort Bragg. The ensuing quarantine apparently kept them from doing any damage to the County's vast grape plantings.

RETAIL SALES. I'd read somewhere that Radio Shack is bankrupt, but it didn't occur to me until I went looking for a ball game transistor radio the other day what the company's demise looked like. A ball game transistor is a tiny pocket radio you can listen to the ball game on without disrupting a room full of non sports fans. A radio play-by-play, whatever the sport is radically superior to the tv boys. Anyway, I won't name the store because I admire how the two guys running the place were handling their last days of employment. The internet has a way of getting people in trouble, and I don't want to risk my comments following them around.

AS I ENTERED this Radio Shack, and walked up to the counter, a guy was on the floor under the register. He yelled, "goddammit!" as he threw what looked like a cabinet drawer onto the floor. "Shit!" Another drawer hit the floor. I couldn't see anybody else in the store, so I just stood there listening to the guy swear and throw pieces of cabinet around until a huge guy emerged from the back. Really huge. Like 500 pounds huge. He lumbered towards me, breathing hard with every step. "Can I help you," the big guy wheezed. I told him what I was looking for. "Over there somewhere," he said, throwing a thigh-sized arm vaguely east of where we were standing. I thought he might walk me where the radio was, but he didn't move. And he was so big, and movement so difficult for him, I tracked down the radio unaided. The other guy continued to fight the cabinetry, rolling around on the floor with pieces of it and cursing.

THE RADIO I sought was locked to the shelf. "I guess we need a key here," I said tentatively, by now fully aware I was in a unique sales venue with two clerks who were way beyond the usual protocols of customer service. "Fuken-A we need a key," the big guy muttered. "What the fuck do you think I'm getting over here?" He was mumbling these sarcasms so I didn't take them personally. "Shoplifters pretty bad around here?" I asked. "I wish they were worse," the big guy grunted as he began his giant-guy Franken-walk back to the register, one leg at a time, clump-clonk. The other guy was still on the floor in mortal combat with a cabinet door. "You need batteries?" the big guy asked as he rang me up.

AT A TIME our county's prosecutors, sheriff's deputies and law enforcement types are trying to win back from the county Board of Supervisors a long standing 10% pay cutback, it seems the Public Defender’s office still finds money to play at the Mandalay Resort in Las Vegas at taxpayers' expense. Linda Thompson and Co. seem to have retreated from reality altogether, not to be too judgmental about it.

THE ADVISORY RESOLUTION to rein in hack and squirt, the timber management practice that chemically kills non-commercial trees but leaves them standing until they crumble onto the forest floor, went down to defeat 3-2 at Tuesday's meeting of the Supervisors. A large crowd, split between people who wanted Supervisor Hamburg's weak and vague advisory to pass and those who demanded a stronger measure to stop the practice, overflowed the Supe's chambers.

FIREFIGHTERS argued that the many thousands of dead trees on the vast holdings of the Mendocino Redwood Company particularly presented a fire hazard to the many people living nearby in places like Comptche and Albion. Supervisors Gjerde and Hamburg voted for the resolution, Supervisors Brown, McCowen and Woodhouse against.

THE 3-2 VOTE to reject the Hamburg resolution “requesting” that the timber corporados (principally MRC) voluntarily suspend "hack and squirt" killing of tan oaks and other non-commercial tree species by injecting them with herbicide and leaving them standing, a practice that means fire season begins in Mendocino County with thousands of acres of ready kindling surrounding the communities and landowners bordering the Mendocino Redwood Company.

HACK AND SQUIRT increases fire danger across many thousands of acres of forestland. It involves using a hatchet or machete to cut notches in the tree, then spraying herbicide into the open wound. Estimates are that a million or more non-commercial tree species, mostly tan oaks, are killed every year using the hack and squirt method. Over 20,000 MRC acres have been “treated” in the last three years.

MENDOCINO REDWOOD COMPANY is the largest timberland owner in Mendocino County, and accounts for 80-90% of the hack and squirt, although other timber and timber management companies also resort to the practice. The hack and squirters claim they are trying to restore the once lush and commercially valuable redwoods that came back as tan oak after the clearcutting corporate cash-in of the 80s and 90s. Having cut and run and destroying the County's timber economy as they departed with huge profits, the big outside timber corps (primarily Louisiana-Pacific and Georgia-Pacific) sold their logged-over holding to the Mendocino Redwood Company. MRS says they have an 80 year plan to restore historic conditions, and that cutting unwanted trees manually would not only double their operating costs the unwanted trees would need to be cut again before the conifers were big enough to out compete the hardwoods.

THE HEARING ON THE RESOLUTION was preceded by a long discussion of fire danger and unrelated issues such as shortages of volunteers and the perennial funding problems suffered by volunteer fire departments.

LAYTONVILLE Fire Chief Jim Little made the point that no matter how much fuel was in the forest, there would be no fire without a source of ignition. And in his experience, Little said, 90% of the ignition sources stemmed from illegal drug activity. Or more precisely, from the relative absence of common sense among dope growers. Little cited a pot grower who concealed his generator inside a straw bale igloo to muffle the sound. Although the focus is often on protecting the homeowner from forest fires, Little said it was usually the forest that was put at risk by careless homeowners.

BOARD OF SUPES CHAIR CARRE BROWN did a good job of keeping the fire safety issue separate from the main event, which was the resolution asking MRC to hold off on more hack and squirt until a study of the fire danger could be done, or for six months, whichever comes first. Hamburg, reliably hat in hand before money and power, made a strong pitch for his advisory resolution, citing a state code section which says timber operations are not a nuisance unless they endanger public health and safety. Hamburg's toothless reso warned that if MRC did not comply with a “voluntary” moratorium, the Supes could declare the practice a public nuisance.

HAMBURG, apparently unaware that he was begging a big question, then cited a resolution adopted by the Supes back in 1994 that called for the State Board of Forestry to outlaw the practice of killing hardwoods with herbicides. The '94 reso passed unanimously, with conservatives Jim Eddie and Frank McMichael joining the soft liberals Norman deVall, Seiji Sugawara and Liz Henry, demonstrating in '94 everyone agreed hack and squirt was bad for the forests, bad for people who live near them.

THE OBLIVIOUS 5th District supervisor said that 20 years later nothing had been done about the issue and that his “request” of MRC that they play nice was reasonable compared to the strong resolution from '94. Chair Brown then allowed an open ended presentation by local Cal-Fire honcho Chris Rowney, followed by MRC Chief Forester Mike Jani who, of course, were allowed to go on at length about the virtues of better living through chemicals. The message from both Rowney and Jani was that a few million extra dead trees in the forest really didn't pose much of a fire hazard or a threat to public health and safety. One can understand Jani singing for his supper, but where does Rowney, Mendocino County's CalFire chief, get off endorsing an obvious fire hazard?

PUBLIC COMMENT, once the Supes got around to it, was dominated by people strongly in favor of putting an end to hack and squirt because of the increased fire danger from millions of standing dead trees. Most speakers stayed on topic, but several went off on their own personal tangents, this being Mendo, after all. At first speakers tended to support Hamburg's resolution, but as the afternoon wore on an increasing number of speakers zeroed in on how weak the reso was and asked for stronger action. Speakers were split almost evenly between those who expressed concern about the threat of standing dead timber and those who were more concerned about how the trees died, condemning the use of herbicides and raising the specter of dead fish and birth defects.

THINGS WERE MOVING along with a minimum of hysteria until Beth Bosk, who had been filming the meeting, stepped out from behind her camera and took the podium, saying she had two letters from residents of Albion Ridge Road she wanted to read.

A NOTE HERE: Beth Bosk is so well known for destroying public meetings that she's become a verb, as in “The meeting was Bosked,” meaning the meeting ended because everyone in the room either left or the room dissolved in chaos.

TUESDAY, Bosk, limbering up for the inevitable disruption to  come, took up her allotted three minutes to read the first letter into the record. When the Chair Carre Brown asked Bosk to wind it up Bosk insisted on reading a second letter, although no one was really listening at that point. After Bosk had gotten through the second letter, Brown again urged her to wrap up, but Bosk complained that she had not had her three minutes and began reading another document at the Supes. Brown insisted that Bosk "needed to sit down." Bosk was equally insistent that she had not yet begun her presentation. Hamburg, sensing that Bosk was undercutting support for his wimpy reso, began pleading with Bosk to sit down. After repeated admonitions from Hamburg, now shouting at Bosk like a dog trainer might,  “Sit down! Now!" Bosk finally yielded the floor, but the damage was done.

IT WAS NEARING 7pm when the last of 50 or so public speakers concluded. Hamburg seemed ready to vote on a motion that was not yet on the floor. Once the status of the motion was clarified, Hamburg made the motion in support of his toothless reso which was quickly seconded by Supervisor Gjerde. Brown then called on Supervisor Woodhouse who mumbled on incoherently before finally lapsing into silence with an endorsement of "property rights." Supervisor McCowen seemed to agree that adding millions of dead trees to the landscape increased fire danger but cited variations in climate conditions and proximity to occupied dwellings to say he wasn't convinced it endangered public safety. Chair Brown did not state her position before the vote, but as a Farm Bureau  director for 20 years before being elected Supe, she didn't need to. And that was it. The meeting adjourned without an alternative motion or direction to staff.

IF THE RESOLUTION had passed, the county would have taken measures to conduct an independent fire danger analysis and request that timber companies stop hack-and-squirt practices for no more than six months.

FIRE OFFICIALS from across the county also attended the Tuesday meeting to voice concerns over the potential fire hazard of leaving dead timber standing across thousands of acres over the county.

ACCORDING to Mendocino County Agricultural data, in 2014, 1,022 gallons of the chemical Imazapyr was administered over 6,800 acres of forest timberland, down from 1,560 gallons in 2013.

A READER WRITES: "I thought your summary of the Supervisors' dead-tree meeting was accurate but for one important and overriding omission: Supervisor Brown should not get a pass on her handling of that meeting, which was antagonistic and dismissive toward most of the people who attended. This probably goes back to her history with some of the people who were there, along with her position on the issue, but she made the mistake of letting that history bias her handling of the meeting, which put it on a more adversarial footing than was healthy, or even necessary.

"THE WORST PART of it all was making everyone wait for so very long before finally allowing public comment on the main event. The schedule for the whole enchilada was 1:30-3, but public comment didn’t end up beginning until after 4. Many people who came ended up leaving before they could speak, or even hear what others had to say on the subject. Instead of making any attempt to adjust or accommodate the big turnout of motivated citizens — or even offer a simple acknowledgement of the inconvenience to all who came and patiently waited — Chairwoman Brown managed the meeting like she really didn’t want to hear from the rabble, and she may have been purposely stretching the delay out as long as possible, hoping to wear the people down and out. It became obvious that the masses, and their voices, were not very welcome in madam's chamber.

"AT THE VERY END of the meeting, sometime around 7pm, the board finally got around to placing their votes. Once Supervisor McCowen made it clear he was voting no, essentially killing the resolution, what was left of the crowd murmured their disapproval. It wasn’t anything untoward or out-of-line, just tired people audibly venting their frustration with yet one more example of unresponsive government. I thought it was a restrained reaction, given the situation. Chairwoman Brown’s response to this was to hiss into her microphone, “Well, now I know how I’m going to vote on this issue.” She spit those words out like a vindictive grandma punishing a wayward child. It was a thoroughly unprofessional and petty finish to a very memorable meeting."

HERBICIDE USE by the forest and timberland industry for Mendocino County, 2012-2014:

Imazapyr: 4,066 gallons; 24,150 acres [estimated to be over 5 million trees killed]

Glyphosate [aka Roundup]: 779 gallons; 3,921 acres

Triclopyr [aka Garlon]: 806 gallons; 2,535 acres

Atrazine [Soper Wheeler only]: 161 gallons; 289 acres

Clopyralid [Soper Wheeler only]: 42 gallons; 227 acres

Notes: It is assumed that imazapyr is used for frill application (aka “hack & squirt”) on hardwood trees, while the four other herbicides would be used for foliar (leaf) spraying on brush (such as manzanita) and broadleaf weeds. Various “surfactants” are sometimes added, to make the medicine go down more smoothly. Mendocino Redwood Company and Soper Wheeler were the only two companies to register surfactants, totaling another 600 gallons.

READER’S COMMENT on the Hack and Squirt meeting: "Went to the Board of Supe’s fiasco meeting on hack & squirt. That was an exercise in futility. Let’s drag out the meeting so long that the 250 people who came won’t have any time to speak— and they did drag it out until after 7."

ANOTHER READER WRITES: "I thought Chief Avila's [Boonville fire chief] report framed the issue accurately and the content was based on facts and experience — something lost on some of the public who addressed the Board on Tuesday, most of whom were very sincere but relatively few of whom had much to offer in the way of facts or logic. The report clearly indicates that, at least for now, MRC is sensitive to the concerns of its neighbors and is willing to work with them. And that is a pretty common story from Nash Mill Road, to Albion Ridge, to Comptche. In fact, MRC comes across as way more reasonable than many of their critics. Beth, Naomi and others like them undercut people like Mike Kalantarian and Linda Perkins who do their homework and put a lot of thought into what they have to say, instead of just hitting the hysteria button. After Beth polarized the room, there was very little space to have a reasonable discussion on next steps. If the reso had been amended to call for the independent fire study, which no one opposed, and a community dialogue with the fire chiefs, the timber companies, Cal-Fire and the neighbors, the meeting could have ended on a positive note with a 5-0 vote."

IN 1994 the following resolution passed 5-0:

"Resolution of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors Requesting the California State Board of Forestry and/or Other State Agencies to Protect Mendocino County Forest Lands and Residences from the Extreme High Fire Danger Caused by the Girdling and/or Use of Herbicides Resulting in Dead But Not Downed Hardwoods"

WHEREAS, Mendocino County has approximately 1,000,000 acres of commercial Forest Lands; and

WHEREAS, thousands of acres have been treated and hardwoods have been killed and left standing; and

WHEREAS, such standing but not downed dead hardwoods present an extreme fire danger, which threatens the health and safety of thousands of rural and urban residents; and

WHEREAS, there are no current regulations on the practice of girdling of hardwoods, or the use of herbicides, or any requirements that such trees although killed be downed to duce fire danger; and

WHEREAS, this forest management practice continues despite the protests of many residents who would be the most immediately affected by any resulting fire storm; and

WHEREAS, the fire hazard and public health danger is compounded because thousands of acres bear not only dead hardwoods, but also large amounts of dead brush, much of which has been treated with herbicides, including Garlon (Triclopyr), the impacts of which, under fire conditions, have not been properly assessed.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors is extremely concerned on behalf of the citizens of Mendocino County, and the risk to standing timber lands in the event of fire, and requests the California State Board of Forestry and other appropriate state agencies to:

Call an immediate halt to any practice which leaves large acreages of killed hardwoods standing but not downed, and

Take immediate action to reduce the present and existing fire danger, and

Call an immediate halt to the use of herbicides including Garlon, in this manner, and to assess the impacts of such use, and

Determine management practices which will not result in creating fire danger, public health hazards or any toxically contaminated soils or vegetation.

Consider the above concerns when issuing a Timber Management Plan.

SUPERVISOR DAN HAMBURG, as always on bended knee before corporate thrones, had placed a purely advisory measure before his colleagues last Tuesday asking the Mendocino Redwood Company to voluntarily cease using chemicals to kill trees for six months while the issue was studied. It has been studied, of course, and the conclusion of those studies is that this method of eradicating non-commercial tree species presents a much increased fire hazard while compelling flora, fauna and nearby people to risk the effects of both enhanced forest fires and mass chemical applications.

WHAT'S TRULY PATHETIC about Hamburg's resolution, which apparently wasn't wimpy enough for supervisors McCowen, Woodhouse and Brown who voted against it, is that the supervisors of 1994, none of them hostile to big money goodness knows, forthrightly came out against the mass application of chemicals as a “forestry tool.”

NANCY MACLEOD of Philo puts the hack and squirt issue in clear perspective: “We are all paying the ‘Fire Prevention Fee’ to the State Board around now. I encourage everyone to do what we did, and enclose a note with your check to them along the lines of Make MRC stop using their dangerous ‘hack and squirt’ tree removal! It is dangerous in several ways: 1. It puts poison (more than 6,000 gallons during 2012-2014) into our environment; 2. It has created more than 30,000 acres of dead trees, over 5 million trees killed, just waiting there, a huge fire hazard. 3. When they burn, they release toxins into the air, putting firefighters at even greater risk!”

HOW IS IT that the supervisors of 20 years ago understood the insanity of poisoning huge swathes of forest but the supervisors of 2015 can't even bring themselves to even endorse a toothless resolution like Hamburg's?

A PARTIAL ANSWER lies in the impaired thought processes (and absence of even a semblance of political spine) of both Hamburg and Woodhouse. (The latter's inane ramblings are presented verbatim below.)

SUPERVISOR CARRE BROWN? Why does she always get a pass from you guys? a caller asks. Mrs. Brown has her blind spots, for a documented fact, but she definitely has a spine. In her world the lords of the land are not to be interfered with. She's always been quite clear about that. The supervisor also is unable to repress a visceral loathing for certain "activists," hence her statement at the end of Tuesday's meeting that she knew how she was going to vote.

SUPERVISOR WOODHOUSE on hack and squirt: “I would like to present a different point of view. Um, I guess I should say that I am learning a lot about this issue quickly and I have a lot more to learn. One thing I know for sure is that my wife and son and daughter and sister and friends are all against the use of herbicides and don't really listen to the other part of the argument that I give. Emotionally, I'm against it. We're going to be speaking about herbicides in our valley mitigation area and I will be advocating against that and possibly bringing that to the board for their consideration. That's government telling other government that they should not do something. This is telling private property owners what they should do. When you look at the dead standing trees, there's nobody that's going to say that's a beautiful picture. We don't have any pictures of dead standing trees on our walls. I live in the forest and I have been fighting tanoak for the last 30 years and I'm losing the battle because its sprouts up and it burns real hot with a lot of oil even when it's freshly cut. I think it's illegal, and I shouldn't say this when I'm around Calfire but I tend to cut it down and burn it right away so if you want to cite me for it, I do it all the time. I'll call you. [Laughs.] It really is dangerous and when you see it go up and it's raining and drizzling up there and you throw it on the burn pile, you have to run back from the heat, you turn back to the other trees that are around your house and you realize those are just fire torches beside my house and so we are thinning them out. The first 10 years we lived there we just didn't cut any trees. I think it's a miracle that trees grow. I love them. But then you realize you have to manage around your house and the more you become aware of fire danger it just scares the hell out of you and there's smoke in the air and the helicopters are coming over the hill. Nothing scares me — this doesn't scare me as much as that. I'd rather do this every day. This a bigger subject. I — the people who own the timber companies should hear what I say because I think it has value. I think most people in the room— Well I won't make that generalization — the people that own the timber have invested millions of dollars. It's very important that we keep them in the county, timber, and the harvesting of it and being neighbors with them is our future. I want more jobs for young people and training for them to use natural resources so I vote for things like logging and gravel extraction and asphalt because we need to have an economy and some people won't like the decisions I make but we have to have jobs and I want to talk about each issue with you all and absorb the anger because I— There are two or 10 sides to every argument and I definitely respect all of yours but I think you have to take into account the timber people who have had this what I think I can call is a stupid plan for 20 or 30 years to hack and squirt and when they do a logging plan to get the redwood and the fir out of there that they want they have to agree to get rid of this weed, the tanoak and financially this is the cheapest thing, I mean we all protest all this about hack and squirt 20 years ago and fought the timber wars and the timberlands are now devastated so a lot of our suspicions were correct. We do have good intuition. But if we tell them they can't treat those trees and they cannot log their property and complete plans they have in process now, if that was me that would bankrupt me. I don't want to send that message that the timber wars are back on and we are going to struggle and fight with the timber owners. We all have to work together and try a different model. What we have are devastated lands with this horrible consequence from destroying them of huge tanoak forests that are very dangerous even if we don't cut them down or kill them, I mean they are green and alive, they are equally dangerous for huge canopy fires, but I don't know the difference between the BTUs and the fire danger to our guys and women out there between the dead standing trees with the leaves off and the live green trees with the leaves on. I think those are very dangerous too. But I don't feel I have enough information to tell somebody, I don't believe government should tell me what to do or telling you what to do because just because it's a popular thing. I know that's kind of a fringe, like my predecessor Johnny Pinches felt that way about personal property rights, and the older I get, I'm getting like that too. So I'm not trying to engage in an argument with you but I have a different opinion than Supervisor Hamburg. I would like to get the study and get the intelligence and get the timber companies and the people doing that, giving them an opportunity to stand here and give us alternatives. I mean, they are the ones that are on the spot. It's not like you caught me killing all the trees on my land. They are the ones who have created this little PR problem to try to make a profit [laughter from audience] and we need to listen to them and see what they plan to do about it. I think digging them out is not financially viable and it probably tears up the land and makes more petrochemical mess than anything. I don't understand why they can't cut them down and provide firewood for poor people or jobs for young people or some kind of— give the wood to people that can make furniture or whatever. I know when I make firewood it takes all day, I destroy my equipment, my clothes, and I make a mess and all the gas, and we could just give it all away to poor people because selling it for $200 or $300, it's a waste of money, you can't make a living doing that, you're kind of working yourself out of a job, but I love the thinning out the wood and burning it in releasing the big trees and just making it look pretty and more fire safe. I want to hear from who we think are our enemies and let them be part of this conversation, I think that's how I would want to be treated if I was them and I appreciate your listening to me because I know it's not what you want to hear but I feel very clearly that it's just the way forward rather than to win or to stop somebody or tell somebody what to do, you have the at least have the courtesy to ask them what can you do to make this better? They are the ones that need to identify immediately the most dangerous parts on their land that say that were hacked in the last year or two and give us maps and work with the fire people to protect us so we know where the hotspots are to save their lives. I care more about the lives of the people than a little poison on the ground, but the long-term effects of this stuff is likely bad. I'm not stupid. But I think the effect of telling timber companies that we are back to this struggle with you, I know you won't like this part, I'm just a keep talking until I get booed… [laughter, grumbling], but there are different sides different segments, but we are really telling this is what you won't like, and it's —”

Board Chair Carre Brown: “Supervisor Woodhouse?

Woodhouse: “Yes?”

Brown: “You've actually broken the rules of procedure.”

Woodhouse: “Oh! I'm sorry about that!”

Brown: “You have spoken too long. Please wind up your remarks, please.” [Laughter]

Woodhouse: “Thank you very much.”

Brown: “Oh! You're through? Okay.” [Laughter]

WHEN BETH BOSK TOOK THE PODIUM, she began by reading a letter from an Albion Ridge resident, sister of a former logger and wound up being threatened with expulsion, as the usual chaos she inevitably inspires broke out when she wouldn't leave the speaker's mike.

Brown to Bosk: “You only have a few more seconds.”

Bosk: “I'm standing here for two people who could not leave their work site.”

Brown: “I'm sorry Ms. Bosk, but I thought you understood that it's three minutes. We need to move forward.”

Bosk: “I submitted two orange cards, one for the two of them and one for myself, my own presentation. It's very clear.”

Bosk continued reading until Brown broke in a second time:

Brown: “You are through, Ms. Bosk. Please, or I will have to escort you out of the room.”

Bosk: “[Throws her hands up.] You know what? Ah! “

Brown: “Thank you. Thank you very much.”

Dorotheya Dorman shouted something illegible at Brown from the audience.

Bosk: “You will have to escort me out of the room. I have [loudly] two sets of science that addresses some of the inform-- You know what? I agree with Mike Jani that you should be appointing —”

Brown: “Ms. Bosk.”

Bosk: “A committee”

Brown: “Look, you are being improper. Please, let everybody speak. Sit down please.”

Bosk: “You know what? Go ahead and have me dragged out of the room, Ms. Brown, I encourage you to augment the science that you have on hand because you asked for some more. One! [holds up papers]”

Shouting from audience.

Bosk: “Global warming may increase.”

[Audience crosstalk, shouting]

[More shouting from audience.]

Audience: “This is what — (illegible)”

Bosk: “This is my — this is —”

Audience member: “You are annoying the supervisors. That is nonsense. As a landowner, the same amount of time as a big landowner —”

Bosk: “Global warming may increase lightning strikes. There are an ever-growing list of projected effects from global warming that had an alarming prediction, a major increase in lightning strikes.”

McCowen: “Madam Chair [to Bosk]: “If you would submit the information we are capable of reading it.”

Bosk: “All right. Second piece.”

Audience member: “Nobody wants to hear it.”

Brown: “She's just, [turning] Supervisor McCowen, she's letting other people go without speaking that have sat here and she's being very rude and taking their time.”

Bosk: “My point is that, that…”

Brown conferred sotte voce with a large man who had walked up to stand behind the chair's chair.

Bosk: [Shouting] “There's going to be a 12% increase in lightning strikes which cause 50% of the wildfires in the United States every, with every level of, with every additional degree of Celsius. That's this paper. The second one is answering the question, Are dead trees more combustible than live ones? The modeling in the past said dead trees were not as combustible, more combustible than live ones, because the foliage, the crown, the crown fires were, were what you had to worry about and when you have foliage they are going to be hotter, but when they actually went there to check what they found was that they were creating a solar cooker when the leaves fell.”

Brown: [Whispers exchanged between the chair the man behind her.]

Bosk: “It is creating a solar cooker.”

Hamburg: “Beth, you really need to sit down.”

Bosk: “I am.”

Hamburg: “You really need to sit down. Because you are trying to become the story here instead of the issue that we are trying to deal with.”

Bosk: “I am not!”

Hamburg: “You need to sit down, Beth.”

Bosk: “I am!”

Hamburg: “Maybe we should call the next person.”

Brown: “Ok, the next person is Bill Mack.”

Woman in audience: “Wait! I was — “

Brown: “Oh, sorry, Judy, you can come forward. Bill you have to wait a second. Over all the excitement I forgot Judy.

[Bosk walked back to her seat without further comment.]

WATCHING last week's Supervisor's meeting as it was getting Bosked, a big guy in plainclothes, presumably a cop, was conferring with Board chair, Carre Brown, apparently asking Ms. Brown if it was time to suppress Bosk by escorting her from the room. But with a room full of experienced Hauled-Offs, one guy trying to haul off someone like Bosk would be certain to touch off a screeching mini-riot.

COUNTY SOURCES CONFIRM that the large man seen conferring with Board of  Supes Chair Carre Brown after the "bosking" of the hack and squirt meeting  was Bill Woodruff, the County "Safety Officer" - usually assigned to assess  such things as ADA access to buildings and cracked sidewalks for possible  hazards to pedestrians. It can be assumed that the Chair and Mr. Safety were discussing  options for restoring order after Beth Bosk threw the meeting into chaos by refusing to yield the  microphone after her time was up - way up.

THE STATEMENT by Naomi Wagner of Willits, not among our fave Mendo personalities, was right on the money, and we reprint it here:

Naomi Wagner: “I would like to acknowledge the fear and anger and tension and frustration in this room. I would like to attribute that to the way the meeting is being run. And to the bias that is being shown in favor of the timber company, in favor of those who are testifying either off-topic or around the subject and just not really getting to the heart of the matter. The way we have been put off is to the point where we really are angry. I don't appreciate being threatened with being thrown out and I don't appreciate being goaded into bullying, okay? I'd like to set that record straight and try to address the topic. We can't trust MRC. We cannot trust their judgment because of their self-interest. It's very obvious. This is not a very complicated matter. Forestry and forest management is complicated, but the fire danger and public safety issue is not complicated. It's about money versus health versus public safety. I wonder why my representative supervisor apparently seem to think that corporate profits are more important than the safety and health of his constituents? I don't get that. Especially since he has property in Spring Creek where I live. And by the way Anne McGlinty is president of my road association and she did have to leave and she did ask me if I could comment for her. That's why I wanted to do that. I refer you to my letter of April 7 that was published in the local Willits paper. It's in your package. I talk about how unfair and outrageous it is for Calfire to — I'm not down on Calfire except that when they come out and tell us small rural landowners to do all these things for the safety of firefighters when we can look out there and see the ridges covered with these incredible flammable torches, these aerial fuel accelerants and yet they are telling us to remove them from our property and then not even providing adequate funding. So it again comes down to the money. For the public, no money, no public health, no public safety. For the corporations, bottom lines. They get to profit at our expense. That's what it boils down to. So I hope that you will overcome that bias if you have it. I don't support this measure because it is so woefully inadequate. When have we seen corporations voluntarily cease and desist from a practice that makes them money? It's against their nature. (Laughs.) So you need to substantially strengthen this proposed resolution and make it into an ordinance, ban the practice, and show some spine, show some commitment to your constituents. Thank you very much."

ALSO, this brief comment from Kirk Van Patten of Comptche:

“I come to you as a landowner and also as a 35 year veteran from Calfire, retired a few years ago. I am in favor of the resolution. I think this discussion is long overdue. My family has owned timberland in a partnership in Comptche for over 47 years. We are bordered on three sides by what used to be Masonite, then Timber Realization Company, then Louisiana-Pacific, now MRC. MRC has actually done a pretty good job. But I do not like the Hack and Squirt. For the last 10 years of my career I was an Air Attack Captain out of the Ukiah air attack base. I managed the air operations on thousands of hours of fires all over California, mostly here in Mendocino County. Next to pot, Hack and Squirt stood out as one of the biggest changes I ever saw in Mendocino County. It scares the heck out of me as a firefighter. I really hope you enact this resolution. This resolution is long overdue. I don't know how far you should carry it, but as a firefighter I think it's extremely dangerous. I saw this county for almost 10 years on a daily basis going to fires and it is — if you haven't seen it from the air you should do that.”

BROWN HAS BEEN FAULTED for her conduct of the meeting, with some citing her long standing ties to the timber industry and her alleged visceral dislike of hippies. But the odd structure of the meeting didn't help. Hamburg and his cult-like "activist" allies, issued a "call to pack the hall" at 1:30 following a noon rally. During the rally, as a warm up to the disruption that followed, Bosk and crew repeatedly semi-blocked the entrance to the county admin building. In the process, they managed to alienate busy citizens trying to run county-related errands on their lunch hours.

BUT THE FIRST ITEM after lunch was a discussion of fire safety sponsored by Hamburg and Woodhouse and featuring fire chiefs from around the county. Hamburg's weak reso, sponsored only by him, was the second item of business. The crowd was already restless when the Supes finally took public comment around 4:00 in the afternoon. And public comment, at least from some of the public, was borderline hysteria with people expressing emotional fears of chemical poisoning and increased fire risk. Only Hamburg and Woodhouse can say why they timed the fire safety discussion for 1:30 when the item of the day was increased fire danger from millions of standing dead trees. Or why the two issues were taken separately. Speculation is that Woodhouse was initially onboard for the reso and then backed out at the last minute, resulting in two separate items. Intentionally or not, the stage was set for Bosk.


  1. Lazarus April 29, 2015

    ( CALTRANS says work on the Willits Bypass “is scheduled to be completed this September.”)

    One of the three great lies..?

  2. John Sakowicz April 29, 2015

    Don’t blame Beth Bosk for the FUBAR of parliamentary procedure at the April 21 Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meeting.

    A board chair — any board chair of any public meeting — must enable the group to transact business with speed and efficiency, must have an agenda of timed items and stick to it, must put controversial issues at the front of the agenda, must protect the rights of each and every individual to be heard at the meeting, must ensure full and free debate of each item of business brought before the board, and must preserve a spirit of harmony within the board chambers.

    The problem with Mendocino County is that our Board of Supervisors meetings are a hybrid of two different types of meetings. One general type is decision or policy-making meetings. Another is information-sharing meetings, which are used to get public comments.

    The purpose of the public comments-type of meeting is to hear from all concerned parties to ensure that all opinions are considered before the decision making-type of meeting.

    Unfortunately for Mendocino County, the Board has decided how it’s going to vote before hearing public comment.

    Hence, the FUBAR experience. It stems from anger and frustration.

    Don’t blame Beth Bosk.

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