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Off the Record (May 13, 2015)

OUR SOURCES say the "forgivable loan" to buy Fort Bragg's Old Coast Hotel is not the done deal Mayor Turner and his allies seem to assume it is. The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) is federal money with its origins at HUD routed through a state agency. It probably requires endless sign-offs by platoons of anon bureaucrats who will issue the check only after a long list of conditions have been met. It will be a while before any money flows Fort Bragg's way, if it flows at all. All this and any litigation against the deal would have to be cleared up before the Ortner Management Group, the private business who will operate the nebulous mental health program proposed for Old Coast, gets this latest big gift of public funds.


Re-Coast Hotel deal:

Mr. Malcolm Macdonald,

I am a concerned citizen of Fort Bragg. I am also backing a recall of Dave Turner based on the arrogance he has displayed during this sham process. The Old Coast Hotel has been for sale at $2,900,000 since the peak of the real estate boom. The price was ridiculous even then. Now 9 years later a conspiracy has happened enabling the owners of the Old Coast Hotel to get their $2.9m. Dave Turner has stated that it is the Carine's property and they should be able to sell it to who they want at what price they want for it, if it was yours wouldn’t you feel the same? Well Dave, the money the Carines will get is not just the CBGB grant funds but also a HUGE federal tax break, close to $1.7 million as they are “donating” the balance of the property’s UNREAL value of $2.9m to the Hospitality Center for a project you were handed 1400 petition signatures to stop. This is Public money including a State of California Grant and a Federal tax break being used to buy this historically iconic property and take it away from its potential of becoming a tourist attraction. Good job Dave. Good Job Anna Shaw.

Recall Dave Turner

Charles Brandenburg, Fort Bragg

PS. Mr. Macdonald, we are mad, mad people say things to each other online and don’t expect you to act like that’s reporting. It’s not, it’s tattling, OK?

WE WERE ASKED if we thought a recall of Fort Bragg mayor Dave Turner was "appropriate," in that recalls are supposed to be restricted to criminal activity or incompetence or varieties of moral turpitude.

IF INCOMPETENCE were the issue Mendocino County would be holding a recall a week, but Turner and his auto-vote allies, Dietz and Hammerstrom, are not incompetent by Mendo standards, where the bar is always set just about right for the midget high jump. Nor are they crooks, strictly speaking, at least not in the sense of the great Fort Bragg city councils of yesteryear, when council members got free (“forgivable”) loans from Dominic Affinito as they blithely signed off on Dom's development projects.

BUT ALL THREE deserve to be ousted for ethical impairment and their utter lack of due diligence in signing off on a project apparently organized by the city manager and her staff, then presented to Turner and the rest of Fort Bragg as a done deal. Turner and Co. subsequently the Old Coast Hotel deal on the wider community with so little time between the announcement and the deal the wider community didn't have much time to mobilize against it. And here we are with a very angry community compelled to take drastic action to regain itself.

THE GRAND JURY'S blast at the management of the Point Arena School District is long overdue. (It's reprinted below.) Susan Rush of Manchester has been making these complaints for years, and in much greater and irrefutable detail. Her reward? Insults and ridicule from Point Arena's oafish school board and the series of incompetents functioning as administrators and teachers.

ACTING DA KEITH FAULDER, back in '06, verified Ms. Rush's complaints that the PA school board had violated the Brown Act. Faulder had written to the school board a “demand to correct” letter, which of course, was ignored by the Fog Eater's educational establishment. Unfortunately, and without going into the office politics of the DA's office at the time, Faulder's successor, the elected DA, Meredith Lintott, unaccountably withdrew the letter, most likely as a shot at Faulder who'd run against her.

WHEN ELECTED PEOPLE flout the law, especially when they do it as blatantly as the Point Arena school board, it ought to be taken seriously by greater authority, but for some reason Mendocino County authority ignores these violations, apparently regarding them as trivial.

POINT ARENA pays its school superintendent twice as much as she should be getting — even more than that monarch of the edu-featherbed, Paul Tichinin, pulled down for doing verifiably nothing for many years as superintendent of the County schools.

I SHOULD SAY here that the Boonville schools, historically a Point Arena-like sinkhole of nepotism, cronyism, lazy instruction (especially at the high school level), a laughably overpaid and under-worked superintendent, and monthly violations of the Brown Act, might even be more corrupt than Point Arena, but PA still seems to have the edge in all-round turpitude.

YOU COULD ALMOST overlook the edu-swindles common in Mendocino County if “our nation's future” emerged after 12 years of schooling able to read, write and do basic math. But they can't. The young people who go on to college typically spend their first year of higher education in remedial English classes. Of course it's not only Mendo students getting educationally short-changed, it's students everywhere in the land. We say bulldoze the high schools! Eight years — max — of classroom basics then apprenticeships to people who actually know how to do things the rest of way!

IN JUNE OF 2010 we wrote about that 2006 failure to even try to enforce the obvious Brown Act violations which occurred when the Point Arena School Board terminated their last smart, effective educational official: Matt Murray:

“MENDOCINO COUNTY is very bad at complying with the Brown Act. We are aware of only two (2) such investigations initiated by the Mendocino County District Attorney's office in the last 20 years. In one case in the 90s, DA Susan Massini looked into allegations that three supervisors drove together in the same car to Sacramento for a Department of Forestry meeting, thus constituting a public meeting quorum, albeit a rolling one without much space for the interested public to observe from. Massini concluded that there had been no “intent to violate” the Open Meetings Act and no further action was taken.

IN A MORE RECENT CASE, then-Interim DA Beth Norman, in 2005, asked then-Assistant DA Keith Faulder to investigate a Brown Act violation by the Point Arena Unified School District involving the District’s underhanded dismissal of Point Arena Elementary Principal Matt Murray. Faulder’s investigation resulted in a mild “correct and cure” order to the fog belt school district which, via their high priced Santa Rosa attorney, they contested, as another large hunk of education money vanished into the private pockets of professional obfuscators. But that case was dropped the month following current DA Meredith Lintott’s election, and a few weeks after Lintott fired Faulder for the crime of running against her.

SOME PUBLIC AGENCIES do take the state’s open meetings requirements seriously and try to comply with Brown Act requirements, cumbersome as they can sometimes be. But not only is enforcement nearly non-existent, but closed session is routinely abused — especially by school boards — to hide their palsy walsy personnel practices from public view. Other “exceptions” to the Brown Act (not to mention court rulings that allow public agencies to declare controversial matters to be “privileged communications”) routinely abused are “pending litigation,” property negotiations, and labor negotiations. Lots of stuff can be slid into closed session under these vague categories if a board or agency really wants to deliberate in secret.

SUSAN RUSH of Manchester on the Coast is a modest person, but it was her persistence that finally stirred the Grand Jury to expose the ongoing mismanagement of the Point Arena School District. As so often happens, Mrs. Rush was a lone critical voice who, for her efforts to ensure democratic practices, was denounced as a crank and insulted by people radically her inferior in moral courage.

IT'S PROBABLY not the final insult she will suffer, but the fog belt newspaper, the ICO, has had the nerve in this week's issue not only to leave Mrs. Rush completely out of its story on the GJ denunciation of Point Arena school management, the paper suggests that it was their ongoing vigilance that finally brought attention to ongoing district incompetence at the management levels. (And probably in the classroom too since the halt and the lame always hire each other.) "Allegations of failure to follow the Brown Act and other California laws ensuring transparency and public access to district business have been raised several times by the ICO. "

NOPE. We happen to recall that it was raised once because Mrs. Rush requested a copy of a document, her request discussed at length at a school board meeting and the request denied by the district's $145,000-a-year superintendent. It was this specific illegal Brown Act violation that Mrs. Rush presented to DA Eyster only to be blown off by him.

BROWN ACT stuff probably seems trivial to lots of people, but if the public's business is allowed to be conducted privately, the upshot is what we have now on a much grander scale — a country run by an oligarchy served by elected people with all of us under total surveillance by secret agencies at all time.

ANOTHER BIG BOX FOR UKIAH. The lawsuit filed in May of 2014 on behalf of two Ukiah Food Max employees and “Ukiah Citizens for Safety First” has been settled. The nut of the beef were concerns about the increased traffic load on the streets leading to Ukiah's Big Box concentration and "impacts to air quality, energy usage, noise" and so on. A local judge, Ms. Nadel, natch signed off on All Probs Mitigated, and with the City of Ukiah paying for all of CostCo's site prep, inland Mendocino County will soon be able to buy five years worth of Cheetos on a single shopping expedition.

A READER defends Ukiah's decision to spend several mil for site prep for big box CostCo: “The City needs the sales tax money —- not even Phil 'Red Phil' Baldwin [former Ukiah city councilman] was willing to buck that trend. And in relative terms, CostCo is one of the better big boxes out there with decent entry level pay and benefits instead of coaching their employees on how to show up at the ER to get "free" health care and how to apply for food stamps. [WalMart does that] My guess is that Judge Jeannine Nadel will issue a hometown ruling and it will then be up to the retail clerks union to decide if they want to spend more money on an appeal. The real question might be, Why does CostCo want to come here? They must be projecting they will sell lots of marijuana soil amendments, turkey bags, and trimming scissors.”

SLUG 'EM! A reader advises: "I highly recommend this little book, which managed to convert me to an admirer of these creatures. Their sex lives are inspiring! Yes, I fought them for years as a gardener for hire, but since my conversion, we have found a way to coexist. Sluggo is the best product available, but other techniques are worth practicing, like copper strips around raised beds, sharp sand or prickly hay mulch. I have an extensive garden, and choose ornamentals that don’t attract snails or slugs. Edibles, their main target, are grown from seed elsewhere, not directly in beds, and sluggo protects tender seedlings. Because no poisons are used here, a healthy population of voracious salamanders and frogs take care of the worst predators, small brown slugs. Big hefty banana slugs, not too interested in my plant selections, are exiled to outer areas where they clean up doggy poo…"

IN THE ONGOING rumble over KZYX management, Doug McKenty has just written: “Yes, I will go one further, despite training programmers about safe harbor time she [Mary Aigner] canned the hip hop show a few years ago for profanity used after 10pm. I think we have a case showing that Aigner makes programming decisions based on racism. This should be explored."

NO, IT SHOULDN'T. It's a given that management ineptitude at Public Radio Mendocino County exists in multiples, but racism is a reach. There's never been so much of a hint of racist management practices. Ever. If there had been, the libs would have instantly been out front of the ramshackle Philo premises with pitchforks and torches. The real prob is management's bunker, us-against-them, mentality. Manager Coate and program manager Aigner create public relations probs for themselves that need not exist. A reasonably sophisticated set of people manipulators — managers — would simple co-op the current crop of dissidents by giving them air time. Dissidence would come to a screeching halt.

Judy Pruden
Judy Pruden

THE LAST PERSON WHO LOVED UKIAH, Judy Pruden, has died. Pruden, 68, watchdogged the city's finest old buildings and tried to ensure that the new ones weren't eyesores. She was also a fount of local history. It's too bad she's gone from a town that badly needs people like her.

MIKE SWEENEY TALKS TO HIMSELF. Mike Sweeney got a lot of space in last week's Fort Bragg Advocate as part of the cunning little bureaucrat's campaign to build a $5 million trash transfer station in one part of the Pygmy Forest while he arranges for his gofers in County government to donate land from another part of the Pygmy Forest as deal that damages both. Fort Bragg has an existing and perfectly serviceable transfer station but...

PHIL, WE HARDLY KNEW YE. Point Arena's new city manager has resigned. Poor guy. He's like a lot of new hires in Mendocino County — he walks blind into a dark civic room, and when his eyes adjust to the dark, we hear, “Let me out of here! These people are nuts!” Here's a pre-backgrounder on Mr. Vince upon his departure from his previous job in Martinez.

Typically, the PA City Council and Vince slathered on the mutual superlatives as Vince departed, so we're unlikely to know WHY he departed.

WILLITS' PALACE HOTEL — THE VAN HOTEL. Back before America lost its way, every town of any consequence had a nice hotel. Ukiah, up until about 1950, a beautiful little place with giant elms the length of State Street along a graceful promenade to the County Courthouse, featured the Palace Hotel, the very last word in rural elegance and comfort, complete with a sedate restaurant and bar on the ground floor.

Up the road in Willits there was the Van, much like the Palace in amenities.

BOTH HOTELS disappeared into a criminal vortex of cocaine mortgages and neglect in the late 1970s and have been mostly abandoned since. They both thrived when the money people of the two communities not only invested in the beauty of their towns but exerted their political influence in a way that ensured community pride. The money people these days take the money and run, withdrawing into the mausoleum-like sterility of gated neighborhoods — Mendocino County's very own Charlie Mannon, the owner of the Savings Bank of Mendocino, Charlie Mannon, hunkers down behind an electric gate in west Ukiah, biting his nails at the great Out There.

IF YOU'VE EVER wondered why Ukiah and Willits look like hell now, this is the reason. The Babbitts of yesteryear have withdrawn. Babbitt, btw, despite the gauche boosterism he has since become synonymous with, was a great one for community beautification. Second btw: The novels of Sinclair Lewis, like the novels of his contemporary, more or less, Scott Fitzgerald, hold up quite well. You could be reading about now with both of them.

TOTALLY MISLEADING HEADLINE story for a couple of days last week in the Press Democrat: “Police: Missing Rohnert Park girls found safe — Two girls missing since Tuesday when they were taken by their father were found safe Friday.”

THEY WEREN'T REALLY MISSING. Dad, with whom his daughters obviously feel safe and probably love, carried them off as, it seems, his child-like revenge for a custody dispute with his ex that didn't go his way. Or not far enough his way. At one point, Dad had legal custody, which usually means Mom has her "issues" as they say, "issues" being the contemporary catch-all for everything from homicidal tendencies to eating disorders. What the story is really about is the old one of children as pawns in a death-fight between two people who once had great affection for each other. The children are the victims here. One has to wonder if there are any adults left in this odd country.


“Sharon DiMauro, publisher of the Fort Bragg Advocate-News and the Mendocino Beacon, will be attending the California Newspaper Publishers’ Association’s Press Summit in San Diego this week as a winner of the association’s challenge to complete the phrase: ‘A newspaper is...’ DiMauro won with her entry, ‘A newspaper is … the closest anyone will ever get to holding democracy in their hands.’

THE THEME of this year’s CNPA "summit" is ‘Leveraging our Strengths...Connecting our Communities.’ Shar said of her winning entry: ‘My goal was to convey, in as few words as possible, the strong link that has always existed between newspapers and democracy. Newspapers are the watchdogs of government, shining the light in every corner, making sure the public is aware and the inner workings of the system are transparent and our leaders held accountable’.”

IF NEWSPAPERS hold democracy in their hands, Hello, Fascism. If the Advocate holds democracy in its palsied claws, Fort Bragg is lost.

A READER WRITES: “These phony associations are always giving each other awards. Jeez, I even won an award. Once. Hey, I’ve got an entry: ‘A newspaper is like… A brothel without the fun’.”

RANDY BURKE OF GUALALA WRITES: Re the Navarro usgs gage — We have found up here on the Gualala River that every time the fog rolls in the bypass flows measured will plateau, and even rise when the fog is very dense. The old time locals tell me that when the fog rolls in, the trees take up less water and thus the rise or plateau (level holding at a steady rate for a day or so, or until the fog lifts). This may be the reason you see a plateau on the Navarro gage readout, especially if you experienced a finger of fog up through the river valley.


From last Tuesday's "Let's Study It For A While" Board of Supervisors agenda item.

Madge Strong, Willits City Council Member (speaking for herself): “I think this motion has some good aspects to it. I think we do need to have an updated fire protection plan and we need to have studies done and all that and coordinate with working groups of citizens and fire personnel. But what I'm really concerned about is that we are in the fourth year of a drought and we already have a tremendous amount of dead standing wood in our forests. The fire hazard has already been identified. We don't need another study to wait and find out where exactly are all these fire hazards. We know they are there! We need to do something now to at least not make it any worse. What really disturbs me is that there is no direction here to stop making it worse. I agree with Supervisor Hamburg that it's pretty obvious— even the MRC representative admitted that in the short run, like a year or two, the hack and squirt methods do increase fire hazards. They do leave standing dead wood out there that is a fire hazard. Maybe after the fourth year, it's not such an issue, I don't know. Long-term study — great! No problem. Short-term: I really hope that you would adopt something with enforcement power that is feasible, that says because of the fire hazard, because of the health hazard to residents of this county, that we discontinue allowing any hack and squirt this summer while the studies are done. I think you have that authority as you are charged with protecting the public safety. I hope that that would be what you would do. At the very least I hope that you would add that you, as Supervisor Hamburg requested two weeks ago, that you call upon all of the private forest management entities out there not to continue this practice that even they admit will cause fire hazard and will increase fire hazard in the short term this year while the studies go on. I think anything else is just kicking the can down the road. This summer we might have a fire that would be really horrendous. We have already lived through one of those. I sure don't want to see that happen again. I think it's on your shoulders to do what you can right now, this summer, this year, to stop that from happening this summer.”

Els Cooperrider: ".... I have a real problem with the [fire hazard study] working groups. With all due respect to the Fire Safe Council and Madeline Holtcamp. I know she does great work and I really appreciate everything they do. But there's one thing that I want to get straight. We are going to ask a bunch of people to get together, firemen, to drive on their own time, they are already working, completely as volunteers, on top of having to make a living for their family, and then we are going to ask them to come to these meetings on their own dime, on their own time, to talk about something they already know is a real problem. While at the same time MRC is going to kill another million trees to add to the problems. This is disingenuous. This — I don't see how any of you here can possibly ask that of your volunteer firefighters. Because the only reason this is happening is this company that is owned by people who are worth over $2 billion want to do the cheapest thing possible to get rid of the tanoaks. The cheapest thing is what they are doing which is the hack and squirt. They have a lot of tools in their toolbox that they are not using because they want to make the most money. So are you really telling the public that for that little bit of profit that MRC can make you are willing to put at risk all of our volunteer firefighters? All of the residents, the thousands of residents, who live out there? For that little bit of profit? That's really what all this is about. I would ask you to think about what you are really asking of these people — what you are asking them to sacrifice for the profit of a company that is owned by multibillion-dollar people. It makes no sense to me."

JON KRAKAUER'S 'MISSOULA' is the most depressing non-fiction book I've read in a long time. I was just finishing it off when I saw a Mom on the evening television news describing how her 19-year-old son had died from alcohol poisoning at a college fraternity party. The grieving Mom warned parents to somehow convey to their young the hazards of being away from Mom's protective embrace for the first time. Dad's too, one supposes, but fathers tend to the wild oats life perspective more than Moms, not that Dad wants to see his heirs engage in drop-fall drinking.

'MISSOULA' describes a college town that did not take rape seriously until some brave young women came forward to force the authorities to take it seriously, so seriously that even a football star was finally packed off to the state pen for ten years. The young women, not surprisingly, were vilified and insulted every step of the way through the justice process, a process hostile, in this town, to rape victims.

US OLD FOLKS are aware that it isn't 1955 anymore, but it's still at least mildly shocking to us how thoroughly pornified and utterly slobified our society has become. In the context of rapid social decay it's no surprise that thousands of young people graduate from high school only to go off for four more years of dipsomaniacal “college.” Not once in Krakauer's accounts of the ugliest sexual assaults, all of them the work of football players, does anybody even mention the academic program. All the young people are alleged students but they seem to pass their days texting each other, sleeping and getting themselves ready for another debauch. To get a college degree from this clown show of a school seems to be simply a matter of showing up for classes, which is exactly like the high schools most of these young people come from.

THE RAPES occurred at “parties” where the point of the gatherings is stupefaction via dope and booze. One 19-year-old girl, passed out drunk, is gang raped by “student athletes.” Another girl is raped by a kid she grew up with and regarded as her big brother.

FOOTBALL apparently being the point of the alleged university, and the town, the girls, post-rapes, are humiliated every which way by “Griz” fans — a big portion of Missoula's adult, football-worshipping population — for simply demanding that the thugs who attacked them be prosecuted. And the prosecutors would rather not.

ALL-IN-ALL, Missoula, the book, is more evidence of the social rot gnawing away at US's decayed foundations. There are lots of talmudic-like arguments in the book about exactly what constitutes rape, and a lot of fatuous pronouncements from college administrators about how they won't tolerate it. As a book-book, it's not very well done; it's more like a PhD thesis. But it's certain to kick off millions of talk show hours of the “youth of today” type and maybe even some effective intolerance for sexual assault from the authorities, all of them graduates of dipso-educational institutions. But from the Boonville perspective what's described here seems to be the logical result of the way kids are cosseted and over-indulged in the years before they go out into the world without their bicycle helmets, unprepared for a life that's a lot more dangerous than their straight-A high schools prepared them for.

WE'LL BE BEATING the drums for Bernie Sanders and/or Elizabeth Warren, although it's already obvious the perennially rigged Democrat convention (rigged since Carter) is already wired for Hillary. The Sanders website, though, won't be up until May 26th at

AS REGISTERED DEMOCRATS, we've voted Green for a long time while, of course, avoiding the local Greens, a small, cult-like group dominated by the late Richard Johnson. The Mendo Greens, now all the way defunct with the great leader departed for a gluten-free eternity functioned as an adjunct of the local Democratic apparatus. Mendocino County is one of the few counties in the state that does not have a functioning Green Party. It will be interesting to see what the local Democrats do this time around. Given their demographic — chardonnay on redwood decks — they'll go all out for Hillary. The argument, as it's been for fifty years, will be that Hillary is less bad than whatever lunatic the Republicans put up.

MIKE GENIELLA WRITES: Maybe it's just me. After all I am the public spokesman for Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster. Yet the notion that Sonoma County DA Jill Ravitch merits a news story in The Press Democrat about her possible return to the courtroom — only her second since taking office in 2011 and even with that as a “co-counsel” — boggles my mind. Eyster is a regular in the courtrooms. He tries cases, and wins convictions in most of them including a first-degree murder conviction in 2012. Besides overseeing what in reality is the largest law firm in Mendocino County, Eyster is largely responsible for all marijuana prosecution cases, no small task in the heart of California's dope-growing region. So where's that story? Just asking.

THE DISCUSSION began with a couple of us trying to figure out who made the decisions and when the decisions were made to buy Fort Bragg's Old Coast Hotel for Hospitality House.

A KNOWLEDGEABLE PERSON WROTE: "I believe privatization was approved with an intended start date of July 1, 2013 but implementation lagged by a few months, at which time Ortner Management Group would have been signing contracts with a number of the local non-profits, so September 2013, give or take a month would be the ballpark for the initial OMG/Hospitality House contract. I think you are dead wrong on Hospitality House, which has a near 30 year record of providing services to people who need them most. Bash Ortner Management Group all you want, but HH should not be faulted because they no longer have the option of contracting with the County, but now must contract with OMG or forego the funding that allows them to provide services. Also, you are flat wrong about OMG benefitting from the Old Coast Hotel purchase. The benefit is entirely to HH. The coast access center will move there and pay rent to HH which will be the building owner. The access center will be a tenant.”

THE EDITOR replied: Any "program" that helps drunks, the random mentally and old fashioned bums stay on the streets is not helping anyone except the people drawing the nice pay who run the places allegedly helping them. The homeless have further deteriorated public space in Ukiah, and the Hospitality House-Ortner industrial homeless complex in Fort Bragg is working to do the same to Fort Bragg. All these entities are in lieu of compulsory programs such as state hospitals that might actually get the walking wounded some place other than where they are. I think it's socially sadistic to allow people unable or unwilling to care for themselves to live on the streets, especially the hundred or so drop-fall drunks our judges routinely process on through the courts over and over again. We need to expand the County Jail complex to house, over much longer periods of time, the habituals. Housing the walking wounded and the chronics at a kind of county farm like we used to have in Mendocino County would save the police lots of time and money, and when the cops save money there is less of a fiscal drain on the County's general fund and, of course, the taxpayers.

KNOWLEDGEABLE GUY WROTE BACK: "Your solution, compulsory programs of any type, except for some who are mentally ill, is virtually off limits because the trend for the last 50 years has been to give increasing deference to the rights of those who are either driven or intent on tearing down every vestige of established order and damaging or destroying themselves in the process. People have rights don'tcha know? When I was a kid the 'rights' of people to camp and shit in our creeks, harass women in parking lots, appropriate shopping carts, and all the rest was not open for discussion. Community rights are being steadily chiseled away, one federal appeals court case at a time in favor of the right of social misfits of every stripe to trash the environment and our communities, flaunt the laws and social norms the rest of us are expected to obey, and generally make public spectacles of themselves. The result has been a steady increase in the numbers of people subsisting at or below the bottom rung of society. During the same fifty year period referenced above, the federal and state governments have generally defaulted on their duty to adequately fund mental health, substance abuse and other services that are needed to treat the underlying causes of chronic homelessness, and in the case of the chronically homeless, it is seldom really an economic issue.

"Hospitality House, Plowshares, Ford Street, Manzanita, and many others started as grassroots efforts to help people who genuinely needed help. The people working in those organizations generally do not share the 'activist' agenda of letting people do whatever they please without consequences. In fact, HH and Ford Street get whacked for enforcing rules for those who stay in their facilities. We can discuss if the rules are fairly applied or not. For instance, should a mentally ill person be held to the same rigid standards as those who are more rational? On the other hand, what if the mentally ill person is screaming all night long and no else can sleep? Most people, like most children, are able to follow basic rules once they know their will be tangible consequences if they don't. Society suffers more by giving large numbers of people a pass from the duty to conform to minimal standards of behavior.

"But getting back to the point, HH and the others are responding to the problems that are hitting us in the face everyday. Take away HH and you would still have all the same people in Fort Bragg. HH did not create these people or bring them here. They also cannot solve the problem except on a case by case basis for those who are willing to change.

"Then there are the migrant cannabis workers and other 'travelers' who proudly espouse FTW (F*ck The World), mock the suckers working for a living and anyone else who pays rent, taxes, and utilities. They are happy to accept all the free services they can get on a no strings attached basis and generally expect that the rest of the world should take care of them. These folks ought to be firmly encouraged to keep traveling. They also were not created by HH.

"If your point is that we, as a society, should fund institutions to house and treat chronic inebriates and the seriously mentally ill, I agree. But don't blame HH and other community non-profits who are attempting to help the walking wounded who have been turned out by the state to shuffle up and down our streets.

THE EDITOR COMES BACK WITH: Housing chronic drunks and the mentally ill has always been my point, and it has to be done on a compulsory basis for their own good. Which is what we used to do in this country before we lost our way. The state hospital system we enjoyed in California was not the snake pit the hysterics claim; there are many people still around in this county who remember the state hospital at Talmage as a decent, reputably-run institution where lots of alcoholics and mentally ill persons were able to regain themselves and return to the world more or less whole again. I think most people agree with me that we've got to return to a system pegged to mandatory, lock-up mental health facilities which, by the way, is what Ortner does with a few reimbursable mentally ill persons at his lock-up facility, and Ortner does it for $825 a day (!). But what we have going in Fort Bragg is called empire building, and if you build a drop-in homeless center they will come for a hot and a cot now and then before hitting the streets again. How many of the people at Hospitality House at any one time are even from around here? All of these programs get seriously in the way of more practical solutions to 'homelessness' because the people running and working in these programs have strong political allies all the way to the upper reaches of national Democrats to keep things limping along as usual while people who should be permanently off the streets destroy public space for everyone in cities and towns everywhere in the country. And die on the streets. The poverty industry is a large voting bloc and resists any reform that threatens things as they are.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Do economists and winos mean the same thing when they talk about the “Ripple Effect”?


  1. John Fremont May 13, 2015

    On the front page of the Fort Bragg Advocate-News of May 7, 2015, garbage czar Mike Sweeney proposes a land swap that would preserve endangered pygmy forestland in Caspar in exchange for destroying endangered pygmy forestland in Jackson Demonstration State Forest on Highway 20 where Sweeney hopes to build a multi-million dollar transfer station.
    The proposed swap is not new, though the public may have forgotten AB384 by Sweeney’s buddy, assemblyman Wes Chesbro, who offered a similar deal in 2011. The problem is not with preserving pygmy forest in Caspar in exchange for destroying it elsewhere. Even Mike Sweeney acknowledges there are fewer than 2000 aces of pygmy forest in California and the United States.
    Another endangered species demonstrates Sweeney’s faulty logic. To save one threatened spotted owl does not mean another spotted owl can be killed, and saving one section of pygmy forest does not forgive the destruction of pygmy forestland elsewhere.
    If Sweeney truly cared about the environment, he would contract with the Skunk Train to haul coastal garbage to Willits. He might also explore a co-generation facility on the coast to deal with our garbage locally.
    Mike Sweeney is a faux environmentalist.

  2. Alice Chouteau May 14, 2015

    Thanks John, for pointing out yet another shell game by a public official, who seems to count on dealing with dolts. Sweeney should explain why he wasted $200,000+ on a deeply flawed EIR with the public footing the bill.
    Alice Chouteau

  3. Charles Brandenburg May 14, 2015

    The city and the hospitality house have issued past press releases stating that this project will be possible in part because of the generous donation by the carines. They have also both stated that it has not been purchased by a private party because none has approached the asking price of 2.9m. We have either witnessed fraud, incompetence or lying. I sense a combination of all 3

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