- Navarro Shows
- Transfer Questions
- Drought Response
- Emergency Services
- Abusing Brown
- Bond Details
- Bridge Devolution
- Public Records
- Generator Death
- Catch of the Day
- Corktop Honored
- County Carryover
- Warren TPP
- Mr Musk
- Curtis Experience
- Were Here
- Groundwater 101
- Water Rights
- Business Women
- Haskell Group
DAVE EVANS at the Navarro Store has another all-star line-up this summer with four very popular acts appearing in July, August and September.
On July 18, The Subdudes will perform after an as-yet unspecified opening act from 6-9pm. Tickets: $45 .
On August 8, Guitar Shorty will be back to the Navarro Store amphitheater to perform with another opening act from 7-10pm. $25.
August 28-29 will be a two-day special event featuring, among others, the New Riders of the Purple Stage. (Ticket price not yet set.)
And again wrapping up the season will be the fabulous Charlie Musselwhite Band on September 5 from 7-9pm. $35.
An Outdoor Barbeque will be Going All Day Long for all events accompanied by the usual selection of beer, wine and soft drinks. Tickets are available at the Store (Charge by phone, 895-9445). And at Dig Music in Ukiah, the Albion Grocery and Music Merchant in Fort Bragg. Get your tickets early, these events are very likely to sell out as they have done in past years.
SWEENEY’S BOGUS TRANSFER SWAP
The recent article on the County proposal for a Pygmy Forest Preserve perpetuates some misinformation that the Sierra Club is trying to bring to the attention of the public. While the Preserve is in itself a very good idea, and a long time coming, it will not solve the main objection to the proposed Transfer Station site.
The main objection to the proposed site is that undisturbed pygmy forest and bishop pine forest would have to be bulldozed, while within a half mile there are two other sites that are viable and already cleared. There is simply no compelling reason to destroy another site when two good ones are available that offer the same benefits of shorter mileage and less pollution emission.
One site, the Leisure Time RV Park, already is cleared, has power, septic, fencing, and roadways, and is large enough to be separated from neighbors. It has good access to the highway and the owner is a willing seller. Yet this obviously suitable parcel was eliminated before the Draft EIR was even written. In fact, no alternative parcel was even evaluated, given that the old Caspar Transfer Station was eliminated early as being in a neighborhood and south of Hwy 20.
The second parcel, the Regional Park, has an already cleared area of reasonable size and is in City ownership. Although we do not recommend this parcel, it still should have been evaluated in the DEIR. Why were these obvious contenders not included?
We believe that the misconception that the preferred Jackson Demonstration State Forest site would come to the County/City JPA for FREE is the problem. This idea has been repeated in every statement by the County Solid Waste Authority, but does not hold up to examination. The “special authorization” by the Legislature, mentioned in support, does in fact only state that the transfers MAY be made if certain conditions are met. One condition is that the properties be appraised for Fair Market Value and that “(j) The entity acquiring title to the property shall reimburse the state for the difference in the appraised value of the assets that are to be exchanged, if the state is found to be receiving less value, and for reasonable administrative costs incurred to complete the transfer of title.” We understand that there are yet no approved appraisals, so the question of a free swap is still unanswered. In addition, the trees on the State Park land are protected from harvest. These trees become harvestable as part of JDSF timber stock, so is the appraisal for protected trees or timber? The Sierra Club cannot support selling off State Park land or trees for a Transfer Station.
Another problem with the swap is that the Caspar landfill and transfer station are toxic sites. The State Department of General Services has a policy of not accepting any property with toxicity issues. This has yet to be addressed, although inquiries have been made. The local State Parks staff has indicated that they will not accept even an easement without considerable funding for remediation and rehabilitation. So it appears that there really is no such thing as a free lunch.
These and other issues must be addressed in a transparent manner. Appraisals and agreements must be completed before the EIR can be certified, not just bland assurances. The new EIR must evaluate the viable alternatives, and an economic study must explain how a 7,000 person population is going to pay for a $5 million plant in 20 years.
Chair, Coastal Committee
Mendocino Group, Sierra Club
MENDO’S “DROUGHT RESPONSE ACTION PLAN”!
What does Mendocino County plan to do in the face of what the County itself calls “a Local Emergency and Imminent Threat of Disaster due to the ongoing drought emergency”?
According to the County’s newly drafted “Water Action Plan”
1.a Renew Mendocino County’s declaration of a Local Emergency and Imminent Threat of Disaster due to the ongoing drought emergency, allowing the county to take proactive measures to meet the statewide drought directives in Executive Order B- 29-15 [No “proactive measures” specified.];
1.b Coordinate with regional water agencies to petition the State Water Resource Control Board to update Decision 1610 criteria to ensure long term stability of Lake Mendocino and Lake Pillsbury. Coordinate briefings to update water agencies and residents throughout the County on drought information and to collaboratively address severe drought conditions in Mendocino County;
1.c Monitor County water use to achieve a cumulative 20% water reduction across County Facilities compared to 2013 usage;
1.d Reinstate the Mendocino County Drought Hotline when directed by the Board of Supervisors;
1.e Encourage and participate in environmental education program that promotes an informed understanding of water, wastewater and recycled water issues;
1.f Encourage and participate in drought related conservation and water education efforts that promotes responsible water use and reductions."
ED NOTE: Re: Item 1c, the only thing in the entire "action plan" that can be remotely described as an "action" — there is no physical way to "monitor county water use” because there are no measuring devices in place anywhere outside of the incorporated cities and their billable water systems. Nor is there a baseline to compare with for the same reason. PS. "Monitoring" something bears no relation at all with "achieving" anything. Translation/Summary of the entire "Water Action Plan": Outta water? You're on your own, Mendo. PPS. No mention is made of exploring Mendo's relationship with the Sonoma County Water Agency which owns most of Mendo's manageable water as proposed last year by former Third District Supervisor John Pinches.
VAGUE SNAFUS have finally been untied, releasing $180,000 of the $200,000 for rural emergency medical services that provide, on an experimental basis, advanced life support services. Laytonville, Covelo and Anderson Valley will get about $60,000 each for training. According to the Supes, “The goal of this project is for each service provider … to form partnerships with existing providers within the county to meet the objective of enhancing and/or sustaining existing emergency medical services in the rural area.” Translation: More training for volunteers already much put upon.
OLD TIMERS will remember the days when “emergency services” in the Anderson Valley, and most areas of the county, consisted of an old station wagon manned by un-uniformed volunteers who turned out at all hours to bundle the wounded over the hill to hospitals in Willits and Ukiah. These days, volunteers are highly trained, so highly trained many of them are essentially volunteering double time in classes and responding to emergencies.
VIOLATING THE BROWN ACT TO ANSWER THE BROWN ACT COMPLAINT
On April 29th, the Point Arena School Board addressed the Grand Jury Report for the first time under Section 7. Discussion with Action 7:3 stated: Discussion with "possible" action appoint an Ad Hoc Committee to draft a response to the Grand Jury Report. Was an Ad Hoc Committee appointed and voted on by Board members at that time?
NO, it was not. President Miles informed the Board he would form and chair an Ad Hoc Committee to work on the response. He stated, HE "will select two other board members; preferably those who have not been given the opportunity to give extra time to be on the Ad Hoc Committee." In order for Miles and/or Superintendent Cross to decide this on their own they would need to have serial meetings with a particular Board member which is regarded as a serial meeting and, of course, a violation of Brown Act Law - 54952.2. It was wrong to take this step and not do it in an open session of the Board Meeting when it was already agendized. Also, it ended up the Ad Hoc Committee consisted of Cross, Miles, the district's attorney and another Board member - not two!
On the May 13th, the Point Arena Board Meeting Agenda under 8.4 stated: Discussion with possible action consideration to approve the Board response to the Grand Jury Report (the Grand Jury Report is included in the Board packet and, the draft Board response will be distributed at the meeting as a hand out).
A Board draft response to the Grand Jury falls under Brown Act Law 54954.2 which means the board should have had this 72 hours prior the Board Meeting and would also mean this information should be available to the public the same time. A "handout" does not have to be made public 72 hours prior to the meeting and can be presented at the Board Meeting under 54957.5. However, again, I do not believe that a Board draft response to the Grand Jury in which the board will "possibly take action" qualifies this to fall under 54957.5. Board members had not even seen the "draft" prior to the meeting. This is a complete violation and never should have been agendized this way.
It is really hilarious because it is part of their response to the Grand Jury under “District School Board violated the Brown Act on numerous occasions, in various ways, and in the presence of the Grand Jury.” Response by the Board, “The board has acknowledged and addressed Brown Act issues and did so well before this report was published”! This is a joke — they just broke the law more than once within two weeks of receiving the Grand Jury Report!
The so-called handout was not given to the public at the beginning of the meeting to have had the opportunity to read and make comment. It was passed out page by page by page as it was read to the Board to approve the draft and/or disapprove page by page by page. The public could not even make a comment on their actions. When a parent wanted to comment on the student cheating complaint made by the Grand Jury. She had to meet with a Board member following the meeting but what good is that when the Board already approved their response and would not change it!
The "Responses" to the Grand Jury were to come from: The Superintendent, Point Arena Schools. Yet, it is a committee including Superintendent Cross and their attorney sending this response. Also, a response from the Point Arena District School Board under this requirement— “…comment or response of the governing body must be conducted subject to NOTICE, AGENDA and OPEN MEETING [caps mine] requirements of the Brown Act. Under Penal Code 933.05 this requirement was not followed due to the Board not adhering to Brown Act 54954.2.
Finally, because of all of the above violations and how the Board held this meeting I would charge this Board with violation of Brown Act Law 54959: Violation of Act; Criminal Penalty which states the following: 'Each member of the legislative body who attends a meeting of that legislative body where action is taken in violation of any provision of this chapter, and where the member intends to deprive the public of information to which the member knows or has reason to know the public is entitled under this chapter, is guilty of a misdemeanor'. The public was denied the information of this hand out until it was far to late for them to do anything about it.
If this Board had any type of integrity they all should resign immediately.
However, I can tell the readers right now they won't. I believe Warren Galletti, the new Superintendent of Mendocino County Office of Education, should ask for their resignations! He worked under this Board and I am sure he will have a different slant on what the Board reported out to the Grand Jury or, at least, he should have a different take on it.
Suzanne L. Rush
PS: There was one board member who voted "no" on almost all the pages of this draft.
NEVER MIND THE GORY DETAILS
It's always amusing to read things like Denis Rouse's account of how he, a bond-holder, and his friend Don, a bond-trader, are “horrified by the sight of a butt-ugly 22-acre clear cut of 200 year old pine trees.” As pieces of paper or computer cloud bits, bonds are inherently worthless. It is what they represent that provides Denis and Don with income. Sometimes they represent ex-forests on the way to becoming stacks of lumber. It is clear that bond-holders and bond-traders are interested in Return On Investment alone, and the gory details are irrelevant.
Yours, Jay Williamson, Santa Rosa
How is it that in the early 1930s, engineers (without the use of computers) were able to design and build the western span of the Bay Bridge in just a few years? Using foundation-laying techniques that had never been used, in the same salty bay we have today, using the best concrete and metal of the times. Years ago, our fathers brought forth in this bay a new bridge, a bridge that has weathered several earthquakes (most notably in 1989), been struck by a ship in a heavy fog, and stands strong and tall despite the same salty water, ocean tides and rain that have so bedeviled the pathetic new eastern span. It's devolution, baby!
Steve McLin, Walnut Creek
CALLING LEE HOWARD:
AGENDA TITLE: Discussion and Possible Approval of a Revised Policy Regarding Public Access to County Records (Policy No. 36) and County Guidelines and Processes Associated with Responding to Public Records Act Requests
PREVIOUS BOARD/BOARD COMMITTEE ACTIONS: On September 12, 2000, The Board of Supervisors adopted the Public Access to County Records, policy #36. On February 3, 2015, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to develop a draft policy regarding the process for responding to Public Record Act requests and present the draft policy at a future Board of Supervisors meeting.
SUMMARY OF REQUEST: On February 3, 2015, at the direction of the Board of Supervisors, a committee was formed including members from the Executive Office, Human Resources, Transportation, Planning and Building Services, and the Health and Human Services Agency. There has been a significant increase in the number and complexity of Public Records Act (PRA) requests being presented to the County over the past several years. Because of this, and the fact that the County needs to ensure compliance with the PRA, as well as applicable laws relating to privacy and exemptions, the Executive Office formed a committee to review and discuss the process associated with the PRA that ensures compliance with all applicable laws with a minimal amount of disruption to the work being performed by County employees.
The Committee discussed various aspects of PRA requests, including current departmental practices associated with administering requests, existing fee structures, other County practices and procedures associated with administering PRA request, the need for a training program for County employees on the Public Records Act, and potential models to consider as efficient means of addressing PRA requests. The Committee is proposing modifications to the County’s existing PRA Policy, the development of a new section on the County’s website dedicated to Public Records, including a fillable Public Records request form, procedural guidelines for County employees to utilize in addressing public requests for information, an ongoing training program for County employees regarding public records requests and mandates associated with responding to requests, and continued efforts to make public records more readily available to the public, such as document imaging and uploading of County contracts online.
The Committee developed an array of proposed initiatives that will be implemented should the Board of Supervisors adopt the revised Policy and accompanying procedural guidelines and will continue into the future. The committee concluded that in providing records to the public, the County can always improve the efficiency and effectiveness. The Committee is proposing that the various improvements and initiatives be considered in phases, as follows: Phase I (to be implemented immediately upon Board approval):
Public Record Request Informational Website
o Defines public records; what qualifies as a public record and what does not
o Provides the public information on how they can request a record
o Contains links to departments, agendas, minutes, ordinances, etc. for the public to retrieve public information free of charge and without impacting employee workload
o Tips to expedite their request for public records
Public Request for Information Form – to be placed online o The public will have the option to download and print this form and return to a department representative
Public Request for Information Form and Procedural Guidelines – for County employee internal use
o The internal form will be the same form that is placed online for the public. However, this form is attached to guidelines in which the employee can follow to ensure they are assisting the members of the public to identify records
Public Records Act Employee Training Program
o The Executive Office is currently reviewing an Excel download from Munis that will allow the public to see a near complete list of all current contracts within the County Phase II (to be considered and implemented within six months of Board approval):
Online Availability of County Contracts
o The Executive Office is currently assessing the ability to provide a mechanism to allow the access to a list of all current contracts within the County
Standard Copying Fees
o Policy number 31, Standard Copying Fees, will be reviewed to ensure the County costs are aligned with the associated standard copying fees. Phase III (to be considered and implemented within 12-18 months of Board approval and continued into the future):
o The Executive Office is currently working on a County wide document imaging project. This will include an assessment of additional records and documents and the ability to access via the Internet or other resource locations, such as a public access computer workstation located in the Executive Office/Clerk of the Board.
Summary: The committee believes these proposed operational enhancements will be a step in addressing the frustrations between the public and requests for records, as well as address the inconsistent practices that exist amongst County departments in administering requests for public records. The Committee proposes to continue their work on public requests and meet on a quarterly basis to receive feedback, check in and discuss any changes that may need to be made to the process and procedural guidelines and/or departmental training and continue with the long term initiatives proposed, including the next phases of online availability of public records. With the progression of document imaging, more information will be made available online; making records more accessible for the public and reduce the impacts on County employee’s daily workload.
ON MAY 14, 2015 around 7pm Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies, Ambulance Personnel from Laytonville Fire, along with Cal Fire were dispatched to the intersection of Iron Peak Road and Spy Rock Road in Laytonville related to a possible deceased person at the location. Fire and Ambulance personnel arrived first where they found two individuals in a vehicle. One person was found unresponsive in the rear of the vehicle and pronounced deceased at 7:18pm. This person was later identified as Gerald Vitelli, 22 years of age, out of Fullerton California. Deputies who responded to the scene described the second individual as somewhat evasive when inquiries were made into the circumstances related to Vitelli’s death. Deputies then summoned the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Detectives Unit to the scene to conduct further investigation. Detectives could not determine the cause of death, saw no obvious signs of foul play and eventually found the second person may have been concerned about his and Vitelli’s involvement in a marijuana growing operation. The witness then agreed to take deputies to the scene where Vitelli was reported to have died. The location was a remote area in the 7000 Block of Simmerly Ranch Road, Laytonville. There Detectives found a small marijuana growing operation consisting of one small greenhouse, a travel trailer, and a second area used as sleeping quarters for Vitelli and the witness. Detectives located a small generator near the entrance of the sleeping quarters and noted the quarters were not well ventilated. There were no obvious signs of foul play at the scene and the witness was released. The cause of death is currently under investigation with an autopsy scheduled for May 15 to include a Blood Alcohol and Toxicology analysis. The marijuana growing operation was not eradicated and no charges related to the garden are anticipated at this time.
CATCH OF THE DAY, May 15, 2015
KELISHA ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Domestic assault, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
DAVID CODY, San Jose/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
JOHN COOLEY, Fort Bragg, Grand theft, possession of controlled substance.
RICARDO PATINO, Willits. DUI.
JAMES WELLS IV, Fort Bragg. Possession of controlled substance and paraphernalia.
DAVID YADON, Willits. Smuggling controlled substances or liquor into jail.
TIRELESS ADVOCATE? HE ‘WORKED’ FOR FREE?
(There are 215 members of Congresses “Wine Caucus”?! We wonder what “privileges” come with “membership” in the popular “wine caucus” — which probably meets in the Congressional Bar & Grill every Friday afternoon just before adjournment for the weekend to “monitor” donations from “constituents”).
* * *
PROCLAMATION OF THE MENDOCINO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS RECOGNIZING CONGRESSMAN MIKE THOMPSON’S 25 YEARS OF PUBLIC SERVICE
WHEREAS, Mike Thompson, United States Congressman, for California’s 5th Congressional District, represents all of Napa and parts of Contra Costa, Lake, Solano and Sonoma Counties and is a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means; and
WHEREAS, He was first elected to Congress in 1998 and served California’s 2nd District in the California State Senate, including Mendocino County, and chaired the powerful Budget Committee; and
WHEREAS, Thompson is the co-founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Wine Caucus, which consists of over 215 United States Senators and House members; he is also a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, which is composed of moderate Democrats committed to bipartisan problem-solving, and member and former co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus; and
WHEREAS, Thompson was the first Vietnam veteran elected to the California State Senate; he served in combat with the U.S. Army as a staff sergeant/platoon leader with the 173rd Airborne Brigade where he was wounded and received a Purple Heart; and also served as an instructor at the Army's Airborne School; and
WHEREAS, He has taught Public Administration and State Government at San Francisco State University and California State University, Chico; and
WHEREAS, During his tenure in the House of Representatives he secured federal funding for the Willits Bypass, helped secure funding for health clinics along the North Coast, has been a tireless advocate for seniors and veterans, passed the Wilderness Bill protecting more than 250,000 acres of California land as wilderness and helped secure funding for pest control such as the European Grapevine Moth; and
WHEREAS, Thompson’s 25 years of dedicated public service to California’s north coast region, including the people of Mendocino County, and is deserving of special public recognition and highest commendation for service.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Supervisors of the County of Mendocino, recognize the Honorable Mike Thompson for 25 years of exemplary and effective public service and extend him best wishes for continued success in the years ahead.
Dated: May 19, 2015
THE MENDOCINO COUNTY EXECUTIVE OFFICE has predicted a positive general fund year-end carryover of $3.3 million for the next fiscal year, according to the county’s third-quarter budget report, released last week.
In the third quarter, the county saw an expected increase in revenues, along with maintaining fiscal cautiousness as primary indicators for the projected carryover, the Executive Office stated in its report.
Many county departments also noted savings in salaries; and Mental Health reported a slightly lower projected deficit in its non-general fund compared to the mid-year report.
Nearly $2 million of the projected $3.3 million total is from expected increases in non-departmental revenues, and a decrease in delinquent property tax revenues, which is covered by the Teeter Fund.
The county expects all Teeter Fund debt to be rectified by the end of the year, which would provide an additional $606,000 to the general fund.
General budget fund carryovers since the 2010-11 fiscal year have varied, according to the mid-year report, with a $501,000 deficit that year; nearly $3 million in 2011-12; $6.8 million in 2012-13; and $8.9 million in 2013-14.
Despite a potentially large positive carryover in the county general fund for the next fiscal year, the Mental Health component of the Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency continues to wrestle with millions of dollars of deficit, which is being attributed to state audits of Mental Health accounts for adjustments, settlements and reimbursements, although the county expects settlement charges to be resolved by the end of the year.
Mental Health is projected to be $3.7 million over budget as of the third quarter, which was down from the mid-year projection of $4.7 million, according to the report. However, the $1 million audited amount during the 2009-10 fiscal year is no longer expected to impact this fiscal year’s budget, the budget report stated.
The other costs associated with the various audits identified at mid-year were $790,658 for the 2007-08 fiscal year and $2.2 million in 2008-09 for a total of $3.9 million.
The HHSA is anticipating being able to cover the adjusted increases with savings from other budgetary accounts. Additionally, the agency intends to utilize $1 million in its Mental Health Audit Reserve, according to the budget report.
Mental Health also anticipates increased costs due to increases in Medi-Cal eligibility stemming from the Affordable Care Act, delayed electronic health records technology and housing issues for mental health clients, the report stated.
SENATOR WARREN ON OBAMA’S TRADE DEAL
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Elon Musk; the same Elon Musk of Space-X Corp which proposes to be the private space transport for customers worldwide, including the US government (which spent the last 50 years of your tax dollars to do the exact same thing for all Americans benefit?) Oh yes, and his rockets are the most ecologically friendly devices – each Falcon 9 launch vehicle expends just how much poison into the atmosphere?
Of course! It’s the same Elon Musk who made his fortune in PayPal – a “financial services” company well known for having wedged itself nicely between the customer and the credit card company so that extra service charges can be added to the fees: A.K.A. the “Vig.”
When Mr Musk can launch his SpaceX rockets with his battery packs then maybe he will have something to show. Until such time, he only provide us with more high-tech, gee-whiz junk, in a Dizneyesque phantasy mode, based on the standard energy use paradigm.
THE CURTIS KNIGHT EXPERIENCE
by Jeff Costello
In 1969 Curtis Knight was still recording at PPX Studios on West 55th St., just off Broadway in Manhattan. Jimi Hendrix had left Curtis’ band, gone to England with Chas Chandler, the bass player from the Animals, and come back to the States an international star. When “Purple Haze” hit, Curtis released some old tracks with Hendrix on them. The album was called Get That Feeling. The cover showed a picture of Hendrix and said, “Jimi Hendrix plays and Curtis Knight sings.” The record was a great disappointment to anyone who had heard Hendrix’ Are You Experienced?, but it sold, Curtis made some money, and the record probably has some value as a collector’s item.
In an effort to squeeze some money and publicity out of the Hendrix phenomenon, Curtis Knight’s manager, Ed Chalpin, owner of PPX Enterprises, tried to sue Hendrix’s management over an old contract that may or may not have existed. He got the publicity at least — Rolling Stone ran a story on the dispute — but it wasn’t favorable. Chalpin was portrayed as a sleazy, underhanded operator with a grudge. Whether or not you believe that “any publicity is good publicity” depends on who your agent is.
Curtis Knight was treated in the story as just a musician, a singer Hendrix had played with. If anyone had asked Hendrix about Curtis, there might have been quite another story.
I was playing with a group called Mocha Chip at the Electric Circus on St. Mark’s Place in the Village. We were a mediocre, mismatched band from Boston, with a slick manager named Willy Havana who weaseled us into some big “showcase” clubs by overwhelming the owners and promoters with impressive lies and outrageous claims. We were young and thought ourselves somehow headed for the big time.
We were staying at the Bryant Hotel, 54th and Broadway, on the edge of Time Square. Rooms were $15 a night. The place was full of musicians, whores, drug dealers and traveling salesmen. Willy Havana installed us there, finding suitable accommodations for himself elsewhere.
One night after the gig, I was getting out of the hotel elevator when I heard an electric guitar being played somewhere. I got to my room and it was louder by the window. Someone had an amp near a window below me and was playing some really tasty stuff.
I found him two floors down. He was sitting by the window, playing a Fender Jazzmaster. The amp was on a chair, aimed out at Broadway below. I stood by the open door, listening. He sounded a little like Hendrix, without the other-worldly flavor, but he was working on it.
He turned around and saw me there, broke into a big friendly grin, and said, “Hey, man, you a guitar player?”
“Come on in. My name’s Johnny Starr. You got a gig in town?” I introduced myself and told him I was working at the Electric Circus.
“Oh yeah,” he said, “My cousin played there. Jimi Hendrix.”
“Jimi Hendrix is your cousin?” I was skeptical, of course. He was black, he played somewhat like Hendrix, but he didn’t look like Hendrix, and there were always bullshitters around claiming famous relations.
“Yeah, he showed me this.” He played the introduction to “Wait till Tomorrow” from Axis: Bold as Love. It sounded perfect, every little inflection was just right.
“Go get your axe,” he said. “I’ll show you how to do it.”
He showed me the riff, which was easy when someone showed it to you.
“Hey, you’re alright, you wanna come to the studio with me tomorrow? Curtis needs another guitar player.”
“You mean Curtis Knight who had Jimi Hendrix in his band?”
“Yeah, how do you think I got the gig? My cousin turned me on to Curtis. It’s a good gig. You go in at 9:30 in the morning and play all day, sometimes all night. He pays $15 a track and buys your lunch.”
“Is that what Jimi got?”
“That’s what everybody gets.”
Next morning at nine, I jerked myself out of bed after four hours’ sleep and ran through a few scales on the guitar. Johnny Starr would give me a good introduction to Curtis, but I was still nervous. This was my first shot at a real session gig, and it was with a guy who had had Jimi Hendrix playing for him, in the same studio. Johnny was waiting in the lobby. We walked a block and a half to 300 W. 55th St. and took the elevator to third floor. The door opened right into the studio.
A short stocky black man in a white puffy-sleeved shirt and fringed leather vest greeted us. His hair was long and straightened, parted and combed down in hippie style. He looked at me, noticed the instrument case in my hand and said, “Heeyy, little brother, can you play that thing?”
“Yeah, I can play.”
“I jammed with him last night,” said Johnny, “He can play.”
“Well it’s nice to meet you, little brother. I’m Curtis Knight. You want to work?”
I unpacked the guitar and met the other musicians — drummer, bass player, and keyboard man.
“You ready, little brother? Let me hear your guitar some,” said Curtis. “You boys play that riff we worked on yesterday.”
It was a simple R&B figure in two chords, easy to pick up.
“Okay, little brother, I like that. You got a job. Yeah.”
When the Electric Circus gig was over, I stayed in New York to work with Curtis — the money was okay, sometimes we made over $100 a day, and only two years before, Jimi Hendrix had been doing the same gig. There were pictures of Hendrix on the walls — Hendrix playing with Curtis, Hendrix laughing with Curtis, Hendrix standing with Abe, the tired-looking engineer in the control room.
Curtis told a “Jimi” story every once a while, speaking as if they were still good friends. He seemed pleased for Jimi’s great success, in an almost paternal way, and he was careful not to give the impression that he had any less respect for us than he had for Hendrix.
Very few of the songs were planned in advance. Curtis would get an idea and vocalize it to the musicians. We’d mess around with it until he liked it, and sometimes he’d improvise the lyrics right on the spot. He was always open to any ideas for arrangements or different sounds.
Musicians came and went, sometimes there was a new drummer every day. Johnny Starr got fired because of a “personal problem” with Curtis. John the bass player was next, and after a while only Richard Sussman, the piano player, and I were left from the original group. Curtis thought it was time to take a break and shut down the sessions for a while.
On the last day of the first sessions, I rode down in the elevator with Curtis and Tim, the latest bass player. As we left the building, Curtis took the bass player aside, telling me to wait on the sidewalk. Curtis was firing Tim because he’d had trouble with the bass line on one of the tracks. The way he treated some of the musicians had bothered me, but this time it was worse — the bass line had been part of one of my arrangements. Curtis paid Tim off and walked over to me.
“I’m lettin’ him go, little brother, he’s not gettin’ it. I’ve got some new guys comin’ in, and I want you to be there. Call me in two weeks or get hold of Richard. You need some money?”
After Curtis left, Tim asked me, “Did he fire you too?”
“Curtis told me he fired you.”
“Maybe he didn’t want you to feel bad…”
Tim turned around and headed for the subway, looking confused and dejected. He felt bad, and so did I, but it’s business, I told myself.
I took the shuttle flight back to Boston. Nothing was happening there; the Mocha Chip band had recently dissolved from lack of interest. With two weeks to kill, I wandered around the city, taking drugs and making the club scene. I met a college girl named Rachel, and we hit it off well. At the end of the two weeks I asked her to go to New York with me.
We got a room at the Bryant. When I got to the studio, Richard was there with a whole new bunch of musicians. Curtis has made a deal with a new label, Paramount, which is owned by Gulf and Western. He said this was the band he wanted for the record, and we went to work.
The next day, Rachel came to the studio. Curtis took me aside and said, “That’s a mighty fine-looking lady you got there, little brother — a real fox.” Curtis was always hospitable to guests in the studio, and all day he was very attentive to Rachel, who began to look uncomfortable after a while.
“I don’t think I like Curtis,” she said later.
“He thinks you’re a fox,” I replied.
“He asked me if I would like to work for him” she said. “And he didn’t mean in the office.” Johnny Starr had told me Curtis “had girls in the street” — music wasn’t his only business, but I hadn’t given it much thought until now. Maybe he’s really a pimp, maybe he’s not, I thought. It wasn’t professional to bring your girlfriend to the studio, anyway.
Rachel went back to Boston, and I got down to work on the album. I liked the new musicians, except the heavy-handed drummer. Curtis agreed to try another drummer, a friend of mine named Joey. Curtis and Joey had trouble right from the start. There was bad tension between them, but Curtis had to admit Joey was a good drummer. I did my best to keep the peace and it worked until Curtis brought in a blues singer named Marie.
Curtis had gotten us rooms at the Earl Hotel in the Village to “save us money.” He had some kind of deal going — there were always eight to ten girls in the lobby, dressed and ready for the street, and now all “his” musicians were there, too.
Joey’s room was next to mine. One night after the sessions we were drinking wine in his room when Marie showed up. She liked my friend the drummer, and after a while I went back to my own room. A few hours later, I woke up to the sound of someone pounding hard on Joey’s door. A man was shouting — it was Curtis.
“What are you doin’ in that motherfucker’s room, girl? in my hotel! I’m gonna beat down the door and break his legs. Get your ass out of there. Now!”
Marie left with Curtis, after talking him out of attacking Joey, who would not be working in the recording sessions any more.
It was clear to me now that any involvement with women was unwise in Curtis Knight’s sphere of influence. I still didn’t know exactly what was going on, but I knew I wanted to keep working on the album, not so much for the money, but for the experience. I was paying my dues.
At the studio the next day, not a word was mentioned about the night before. The heavy-handed drummer was back. Richard and I, in our new roles as musical directors, went about showing arrangements to the other musicians.
My own relationship with Curtis remained professional. I never mentioned the Rachel incident, and he didn’t know I had heard him threatening Joey.
His temper surfaced again when a vocal trio came in to sing a background part. The engineer didn’t get their voices on tape, and they demanded to be paid again to sing the part a second time. When they refused Curtis’ protests, he became furious and began shouting at the engineer.
“What the fuck’s the matter with you, Abe? You stupid fucker. This is coming out of your pay. If you fuck up again you’re fired. Goddamn it, I don’t need this shit!”
While much of the music was improvised, once in a while Curtis came up with songs that were already complete. One of these was a balled called “Friedman Hill.” It had a nice melody and a slow, sort of cha-cha rhythm, and was a refreshing change from the usual hard-driving dance material. Richard and I were going over the chords while Curtis sang the lyrics. I usually didn’t pay much attention to the words except as signals for musical changes, but this time I was catching them through the repetition process:
I took her life in a place called Friedman Hill
Now I live in this place where the sun never shines…
…and I killed the only girl I ever loved…
This was Curtis’s personal song; he was singing it with real feeling. I already had serious questions about his attitude towards women, and it was really none of my business anyway. But now I couldn’t help wondering just who or what I was dealing with here.
The sessions went on, business as usual, and I was able to keep my feelings about Curtis in check, until the day he made the announcement:
“The president of Gulf and Western is coming in today, to check out my scene. I want you all to be on your best behavior. I don’t want my band to look anything but professional,” he said, giving each of us a cold look that meant he wasn’t kidding. He left the room, looking very busy.
“Is this a recording session or a military inspection?” Richard asked out of the side of his mouth.
“I’m not sure,” I said.
When Curtis came in with the president of Gulf and Western, he was all smiles and efficiency, escorting the disinterested-looking corporate executive around the studio, pointing out the Hendrix pictures, showing him the tape machines, and explaining the creative process.
“…And these boys over here are my band.”
We were all sitting silently on amps and drum cases in a corner, “on our best behavior.” Since we had no names, we were spared personal introductions to Mr. Gulf and Western, who nodded politely and left with Curtis. I was just breathing a sigh of relief when Curtis returned and dropped the real bomb. He was with a woman this time.
“This is Marina, she’s going to be the tour coordinator for our trip to Argentina.”
There had been no previous mention of Argentina. Curtis and Marina, who was heavily made up and looked right at home with him, were smiling broadly, like proud parents giving a puppy to a child.
I had seen and heard enough of Curtis Knight outside of the studio to become extremely wary of him, was already on the verge of quitting, and now I was going to Argentina with him. I looked at Richard.
“Forget it,” he said. “Do you know what’s going ON in Argentina?”
“No,” I replied, “But I know what’s going on around here, and it just keeps getting creepier. That woman looks like Dracula’s wife.”
At the first opportunity, I told Curtis I didn’t want to travel with any band, and that I had doubts about Argentina as an attractive destination. Richard did the same. Curtis acted hurt and angry.
“I’m depending on you two — you know all the arrangements. Look, we’ve got some tracks to finish up on the album. “We’ll talk it over later. This record’s gonna be Top Ten down there. We can live like kings — all the best hotels, limos, good money…”
“…And women,” Marina chimed in, “They go crazy for American musicians. You’ll have everything you want — and the best beefsteaks in the world.”
These things would have sounded attractive in any other situation, but with my suspicions about Curtis, and now this ghoulish-looking creature offering women and meat, I was ready to run for the door.
Richard and I met at his apartment that night, and decided definitely not to do it. That settled, we had a few drinks and were messing around with some song ideas when the doorbell rang. Richard answered the door and Marina came in with a bottle of cognac. She was dressed to kill and ready for anything. It was Curtis’ idea of an offer we couldn’t refuse.
She wasted no time making her intentions clear. “I’ve been to bed with all of the Rolling Stones.”
The dead one, too?
I cornered Richard in the kitchen.
“So,” I said, “We get drunk, we get laid, we wind up on a plane to Buenos Aires with ‘Curtis Knight’ branded on our asses. I’m gettin’ out of here. Can you handle her?”
“Sure,” he said.
I didn’t know exactly what he meant by that, but I took him at his word.
The next day in the studio I told Curtis, “I’m leaving for Los Angeles in a week. I’m sorry, but Argentina is out of the question.” He knew I hadn’t taken the bait; there was nothing he could do.
With a blank look, he said, “Well, good luck, little brother. You know you might regret this.”
“Maybe. See ya, Curtis.”
A year later I saw a copy of the album, Down in the Village, on the Paramount label. None of us musicians were credited. It never made the charts in this country, and I wasn’t curious about what did or didn’t happen in Argentina.
WISH YOU WERE HERE
So you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell
Blue sky's from pain
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail
A smile from a veil
Do you think you can tell
And did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts
Hot ashes for trees
Hot air for a cool breeze
Cold comfort for change
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage
How I wish,
How I wish you were here
We're just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl
Year after year
Running over the same old ground.
And how we found
The same old fears
Wish you were here
— Roger Waters
MENDOCINO COUNTY WATER AGENCY TO HOLD DISCUSSION ON GROUNDWATER 101
On Wednesday, May 20, 2015, the Mendocino County Water Agency and the University of California Cooperative Extension Service will hold an educational forum on groundwater. The presenter, Thomas Harter, is a Hydrologist with the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at the University of California, Davis. Mr. Harter will give an overview on the facts of groundwater, provide details on current legislation and deadlines in order to understand future implications.
“It is very important for everyone to stay engaged in this process within the Ukiah Valley, especially water managers, as it is the only groundwater basin presently in Mendocino County that falls under the mandate of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014” stated First District Supervisor Carre Brown, who also chairs the Mendocino County Water Agency Board of Directors. “However, others throughout the County may want to take advantage of Mr. Harter’s excellent presentation to understand their own groundwater basins.”
Members of the public are encouraged to attend this meeting. The discussion will take place at 5:30 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors Chambers, Room 1070, 501 Low Gap Road, in Ukiah. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions and receive up-to-date information.
There will also be further discussion on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014. At the last meeting, held on March 26, participants were asked to take information back to their constituency, or local governing bodies, for discussion and to develop a recommendation for the creation of a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA).
For more information, or to reserve a spot, please contact Jason Claunch at the Mendocino County Executive Office at (707) 463-4441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carmel J. Angelo
Chief Executive Officer/Water Agency Director
WATER RIGHT PETITIONS FOR TEMPORARY URGENCY CHANGES IN MENDOCINO AND SONOMA COUNTIES
This is a message from the State Water Resources Control Board. Sonoma County Water Agency has filed petitions for temporary urgency changes for water right Permits 12947A, 12949, 12950, and 16596 (Applications 12919A, 15736, 15737, and 19351). Pursuant to the existing water rights, water is diverted from the Russian River stream system in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. To view the Order, notice, and project information, please visit the Division of Water Rights website at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/applications/transfers_tu_notices/
Please contact Jennifer Dick-McFadden at (916) 322-8568 or by email at
Jennifer.Dick-McFadden@waterboards.ca.gov if you have any questions.
Ukiah Women in Business Network May Networking Meeting
Ukiah Valley Conference Center, 200 S. School St, Ukiah
Date: May 19, 2015 12:00 PM PDT
Join us Tuesday, May 19
Monthly Networking Meeting: 12:00 p.m. at Ukiah Valley Conference Center.
Lunch Time Meeting
Speaker: Karen Lee
A must for all of us!
Do you have back or neck pain from your desk or computer work? How about your pains from other types of work? What about plain old tension and stress? Come and learn some simple stretching techniques to help yourself reverse the symptoms associated with daily living. You will be able to incorporate these techniques into your daily life to reduce stress and tension. You will leave with some handouts to help you remember to take care of yourself on a daily basis. Always free for members and only $5 to drop in, bring a friend. The 2015 calendar of events will be given out at this meeting also! Full year of membership, which includes events, only $50.
THE DAVE HASKELL GROUP
On Saturday May 30th, the Ukiah Community Concert Association invites you to a very special event celebrating 67 seasons of bringing world renowned music and entertainment to Ukiah. Glowing musical sets with varied sonic textures describes The Dave Haskell Group, featuring Ukiah raised Dave Haskell on guitar, Steve Carter on keyboards, Dewayne Pate on bass and Rick Alegria on drums. The concert will begin at 7:30 pm at SPACE Theater. Tickets are $20 for non-members and youth are $5.00. Tickets are available at Mendocino Book Co., dig! Music, Good’s Stamp Shop (Willits), and online at ukiahconcerts.com. Admission for those who have purchased the 2015-16 season is free. This concert will be the last chance new members can purchase the 2015-16 season before the subscription price goes up. Purchase of the upcoming season will include this concert at no extra cost.
The celebration will feature Jazz in honor of past UCCA Board Members Barbara Curtis and Jane Haskell. Almost 30 years ago, influenced by Barbara Curtis, UCCA presented its first Jazz Concert. Pianist Dick Hyman was featured in the 1987-88 Season. In an article by Francis Stevens to the Ukiah Daily Journal, Barbara Curtis is quoted saying “Unfortunately in this country, modern jazz musicians are typed as popular artists, which in the minds of a lot of people is interpreted as ‘not serious’, yet I can’t think of one single jazz artist who is not deadly serious about their music.”
San Francisco born Dave Haskell grew up in Ukiah. Here the Ford Brothers introduced him to the Chicago Blues, but mainstream jazz and rock and roll also shaped his sophisticated sound. Haskell has performed at prestigious venues all over the U.S. He has appeared often as sideman and bandleader at the Great American Music Hall, Keystone Korner, and at clubs and festivals throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Touring heavily with Randy Crawford opening for the Crusaders, he played the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Carnegie Hall in New York and Opryland in Nashville. Brent Black of CriticalJazz.com says “Haskell’s clean, angular playing is executed with surgical precision and fluid tone rarely heard today.” The Dave Haskell Group is comprised of very serious musicians who share the stage with names like Pete Escovedo, Sheila E., Taj Mahal, Paul Williams, Maria Muldaur to name a few. This evening will celebrate Jazz, Music, Honored Board Members and Community. Don’t miss this fusion-drenched evening of Jazz! For more information please visit us at www.ukiahconcerts.org, or phone us at 707 463 2738.
Elena Casanova, Board President