- Slight Chance
- Unexplored, Unresolved
- Budget Prevarication
- Privatization Mess
- Code Enforcement
- Supervisor Tie-Dye
- Dollar Rural
- Coho Spotting
- Gravely Ill
- Yesterday's Catch
- Drug Pardons
- Rodrigues Appointment
- The Hyena
- Democratic Socialist
- Empire Blowback
- Spoils War
- Change Come
- Dinner Dance
- Tunnels Plan
THERE IS A SLIGHT CHANCE of a thunderstorm over interior portions of Mendocino County today. (National Weather Service)
WE FOUND THIS BRIEF EXCHANGE in the minutes of the May 2015 meeting of the County’s Mental Health Advisory Board (MHAB). It's useful as an example of how ineffective the Mental Health Advisory Board has become (is):
SOMEONE on the MHAB asked, “How will the audit reconciliation affect your delivery of services?”
WE ASSUME “audit reconciliation" has to do with the $3.8 million the state has asked the County to return because, in the State’s opinion, the County has delivered $3.8 million (some say $4.3 million) worth of mental health services in prior years that are not reimbursable.
Answer from the Redwood Quality Management rep: “Tim Schrader states they are currently working with the county on a contract negotiations.”
This non-sequitur was accepted as an “answer.”
Ortner Management group’s Mendo boss Mark Montgomery was asked the same question.
“Mark Montgomery stated he does not know the answer to this question and cannot comment yet.”
Nobody asked why Montgomery didn’t know or when he’d get around to answering.
And that was the end of the question about why the County has been asked to return millions and millions of dollars to the state almost every year for mental health services provided in prior years that do not qualify for reimbursement.
Again, it’s been happening for years. And each year the County’s Health and Human Services Department sends a large percentage of these millions back to the state (sometimes after negotiating a reduction in the amount), then covers the rest out of unspent grant funds from other HHSA programs. Nobody ever says what those other programs are or what, if any, impact all those (mis-)expenditures had or if anyone was even curious about all that money going to backfill the mental health deficit.
This particular mess, like everything else in the administration of Mendo’s mental health bureaucracy, goes unexplored and unresolved year after year.
Theoretically, privatization of mental health was supposed to at least cut this reimbursement problem down because — it was assumed — the much more efficient private companies would accurately figure out what to bill for so that the County would not be stuck holding a multi-million deficit bag every year.
But as we can see from the opening exchanges above, neither RQMC nor Ortner have any idea how to deal with this problem, even though it’s been two years since the County turned over mental health services to them. (And the Mental Health Board apparently simply accepts such non-answers and moves on.)
So what are the criteria to qualify for mental health services in Mendocino County?
To begin with you have to have a mental health problem.
What kind of problem? (You may be sorry you asked; we know we were.)
According to Mendocino County’s “Guide To Mental Health Services” —
“There are four conditions your Mental Health Provider (MHP) will look for to decide if your services are a ‘medical necessity’ and qualify for coverage by the MHP:”
(1) You must be diagnosed by the MHP with one of the following mental illnesses as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association:
(Ed note: we have annotated the Guide’s list of diagnoses with excerpts from on-line explanations of some of the more obscure mental health disorders in the list.
- Pervasive Developmental Disorders, except Autistic Disorders (the latter are obvious)
- Disruptive Behavior and Attention Deficit Disorders (most small boys)
- Feeding and Eating Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood (as determined by whom?)
- Elimination Disorders (formerly constipation?)
(Ed note: Elimination Disorders are disorders that concern the elimination of feces or urine from the body.)
- Other Disorders of Infancy, Childhood, or Adolescence
- Schizophrenia and other Psychotic Disorders
- Mood Disorders (most teenagers)
- Anxiety Disorders (most Americans)
- Somatoform Disorders
(Ed note: Somatoform Disorders are mental illnesses that cause bodily symptoms, including pain. The symptoms cannot be traced back to any physical cause. And they are not the result of substance abuse or another mental illness.)
- Factitious Disorders
(Ed note: A Factitious Disorder is a condition in which a person acts as if they have an illness by deliberately producing, feigning, or exaggerating symptoms. Factitious disorder imposed on another is a condition in which a person deliberately produces, feigns, or exaggerates symptoms in a person in their care.)
- Dissociative Disorders
(Ed note: Dissociative Disorders (DD) are conditions that involve disruptions or breakdowns of memory, awareness, identity, or perception. People with dissociative disorders use dissociation, a defense mechanism, pathologically and involuntarily. Dissociative disorders are thought to primarily be caused by psychological trauma.)
(Ed note: A Paraphilia is a condition in which a person's sexual arousal and gratification depend on fantasizing about and engaging in sexual behavior that is atypical and extreme, greatly exacerbated by the internet.)
- Gender Identity Disorder (Caitlin Jenner begs your pardon?)
(Ed note: Gender Identity Disorder (GID) or transsexualism is defined by strong, persistent feelings of identification with the opposite gender and discomfort with one's own assigned sex.)
- Eating Disorders (formerly gluttony or picky)
- Impulse Control Disorders Not Elsewhere Classified (most Americans)
- Adjustment Disorders (all thinking persons)
(Ed note: An Adjustment Disorder (AD) (sometimes called exogenous, reactive, or situational depression) occurs when an individual is unable to adjust to or cope with a particular stressor, like a major life event. Since people with this disorder normally have symptoms that depressed people do, such as general loss of interest, feelings of hopelessness and crying, this disorder is sometimes known as situational depression.)
- Personality Disorders, excluding Antisocial Personality Disorder (the patient thinks the therapist is a self-important fool)
- Medication-Induced Movement Disorders related to other included diagnoses (five-day crank binge)
(2) You must have at least one of the following problems as a result of the diagnosis:
- A significant difficulty in an important area of life functioning
- A probability of significant deterioration in an important area of life functioning
- Except as provided in the section for people under 21 years of age, a probability that a child will not progress developmentally as individually appropriate
(3) The expectation is that the proposed treatment will:
- Significantly reduce the problem
- Prevent significant deterioration in an important area of life-functioning
- Allow a child to progress developmentally as individually appropriate
(4) The condition would not be responsive to physical health care based treatment.
When the requirements of this “medical necessity” section are met, you are eligible to receive specialty mental health services from the Mental Health Provider (aka Ortner).
* * *
(Remember: the outfit that decides who gets treatment/services is the same outfit that delivers those services for a fee — an arrangement that is so perfectly susceptible to corruption that not even Mike Sweeney could have dreamed up a better one.)
So if you or a family member (or a cop or social worker) suspects that someone has a mental health problem but they are not in crisis of some kind (suicidal, acting out, “a danger to self or others,” etc.) you call the 800 number and make an appointment and get (them) assessed.
Assuming you meet the above criteria — and assuming you, or your insurance carrier or MediCal will pay…
(Somebody has to pay, this is a private business for Chrissakes!)
And indeed, according to Redwood Quality Management’s June 2015 “data dashboard” somebody does pay—
(This RQMC Chart shows that for the first half of 2015 there were 1140 “new admissions” — 1015 of which were MediCal, 105 of which were private pay, and 20 — less than 2% — were “indigent”)
Then you get some “service” of some kind. And the service provider (aka Ortner) bills (mostly) MediCal for x-number of minutes of “service.” (We assume most of the actual “service” is the prescription of psychiatric drugs by, for example, RQMC’s subcontracted child psychiatrist, according to their “data dashboard” footnote: “Note: Medication Support Services are provided through local FQHC’s or client preference for psychiatrist. RQMC contracts with Mendocino Community Health Clinic for the services of Dr. Rebecca Timme, and each crisis client is guaranteed a follow-up psychiatric appointment within 48 hours of hospital discharge. Every crisis case is reviewed with Dr. Timme weekly, with 24/7 consult available. RC3 tracks all psychiatric appointments made, however this usually occurs prior to an intake for outpatient mental health services, thus many of these appointments do not fall on the Access Log per the County’s reporting instructions.”
(MCHC press release, August 2012: “Dr. Timme comes to Northern California from the University of Kentucky, where she recently completed her Residency in Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Child Psychiatry. Although she thought she’d end up working at an academic center, the work/life balance of Mendocino County and MCHC’s organizational philosophy drew her to Ukiah.”
Exactly what other “services” you may get depend on your situation.
If you are homeless and/or have no income or family and do not meet the MediCal criteria (according to Ortner), you are released as soon as minimum requirements are met (minimum requirements for children are higher than for adults). The only other “services” the homeless/familyless client “qualifies for” at this point are: cheap booze, street drugs, and police. You may also qualify for Photographic Portrait services from the Sheriff’s booking intake staff.
If you have money and/or family and you or MediCal will pay, you get “managed” by being “placed” in some kind of care facility or outpatient arrangement with your poor, overburdened family.
And the cycle repeats itself with a few people perhaps being helped here and there, but no perceptible improvement overall.
On a per-capita basis, Mendo, needless to say, is a very lucrative, target rich environment providing an endless source of MediCal eligible raw material for the newly privatized mental health services under the management of the ubiquitous Mr. Tom Pinizzotto, Mendo's Mental Health Director — and former Ortner executive.
FROM THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE MENTALLY ILL’s (NAMI’s) Summer 2015 Newsletter:
Item 3: Finance Committee – Chair Nancy Sutherland, Dina Ortiz, Jan McGourty
“Time and time again we were told (by County Mental Health Department) the data is not available. We were unable to obtain the most basic reports … Quarterly Financial Report or the Cost Report.” We were unable to obtain annual budget information from Ortner Management Group and Redwood Quality Management Company (known as ASOs, Administrative Service Organizations) to learn how much money goes into direct services and how much into management costs. Is Ortner providing more services and of better quality? Are there any benefits to privatization or not? What is causing the increase in out-of-county hospitalizations and is it sustainable? Is using the Jail or the ER as uncertified Mental Health Holding Facilities the most viable financial option to support public health and public safety?
The County Mid-Year Budget made public in March, reported that the Mental Health Department had a $4.6 million shortfall. The Mental Health Board was never told about this and wants “open communication … regarding the repayment, focusing on the impact on consumer services.” The Mental Health Department overcharged MediCal $3,962,658 over three years from 2007 to 2010. County Mental Health says the remaining $702,398 is due to: ACA (Obamacare) increases in access to services; Housing setbacks for Mental Health clients; and Delayed electronic records technology.
The Mental Health Board wants the 2014 EQRO data that the State provides on Mendocino County’s Medi-Cal Mental Health services and costs compared with other small counties and the State average. The Nevada County Mental Health Budget is more informative, easier to understand and would be a good model for our County Mental Health Budget. Mental Health Board wants the Mid-Year Budget published on the County Budget webpage. Mental Health Department should “work cooperatively with the Mental Health Board on financial issues, educate rather than prevaricate, and make substantial efforts to improve current systems to support transparency and accountability at all levels of Mental Health finance."
FORMER COUNTY SOCIAL WORKER JAMES MARMON COMMENTS:
The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors are committed, at any cost, to make sure privatization of mental health is a success. They will hide their heads in the sand until the danger passes them by. They will not admit that they made any mistakes during the process, and they will blindly take their marching orders from the CEO who would privatized every department in the County if she could. There is no turning back at this point. “Official Mendocino County” is at the mercy of the two ASOs, Ortner Management Group and Redwood Quality Management.
As for the Mental Health Advisory Board, I’m sure that they’re being asked to show patience, trust in the process, and give it some time to work. I’m also sure that they are being spoon fed the same bull as the Board of Supervisors are being spoon fed, “things are getting better.” At this point, I have to agree that it is possible that not all the MHAB members understand what their true function is. Up until now they appear to be content with letting the tail wag the dog.
I don’t attend MHAB meetings so I will not pretend that I know exactly what’s going on. I do read the Agenda and Minutes when they are posted. From my vantage point they appear to be concerned but lack the either the motivation or majority vote to get nasty and have their demands heard. I’m sure that they are being pressured to conform with what is believed to be the perceived target goal of the group. In Official Mendocino County, questioning or getting angry about something is seen as being disruptive and nonproductive, a big no-no.
I am so thankful of the AVA for their “fanning the flames of discontent.” Unfortunately the Ukiah Daily Journal is staying quiet about the OMG/RQM privatization mess, because the paper openly supported the privatization of mental health from the start and is a staunch supporter of CEO Angelo.
DA Eyster will do nothing about the mess either, he doesn’t want to hear about it. He too puts his head in sand. He appears to have developed a strong working relationship with the CEO and is happy with his budget. Why would he bite the hand that feeds him.
The same can be said about the service providers in the County. You will hear nothing but good about the privatization and the two ASOs. If they don’t, they will not be given a sub-contract or any clients to work with.
This thing is all sewed up and they will probably get away with it for couple of more years until the State conducts their audit again. We have no idea if OMG/RQM really knows how to properly bill for reimbursements from the State. Until then, HHSA will continue to short change other departments in order to build up their Mental Health Audit Reserve Account in preparation of that audit. Good luck Mendocino County.
* * *
Regarding Privatized Fraud.
The AVA forgot to mention Jim Shaw’s leadership of the Mental Health Advisory Board’s initial support of the Mental Health privatization. His wife Ana Shaw appears to be making out pretty good these days, especially with the Old Coast Hotel recently handed over to her. From the beginning, that whole deal had the “appearance of a conflict of interest” as well. I wonder how many of that gang is still left on the Mental Health Advisory Board. It might be why the board appears not to be interested in intruding into HHSA and Ortner’s business. The whole privatization thing stunk from day one, from top to bottom.
Perhaps those of us who have not “drunk the Kool-Aid” should go out of County with all this. Maybe to the Attorney General. I’m serious, I haven’t seen our County government so messed up since the influence of Jim Jones and the People’s Temple in the 70’s. Nobody dared speak up or ask questions then either. Wake up Mendocino County; ask questions, think for yourself, and evolve.
“Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.”
― Jim Jones, The Jonestown Massacre: the Transcript of Reverend Jim Jones’ Last Speech, Guyana 1978
WENDY ROBERTS ON CODE ENFORCEMENT PRIORITIES
During last week's Board of Supervisors discussion of code enforcement, Mendocino town resident Wendy Roberts told the Board of Supervisors:
"For lots and lots of years I have been in Historical Review Board meetings. For six years I was on that board. Periodically, members of the community would come up and excoriate staff, lots of different staff, for not devoting lots and lots of time making sure that there are no banners in front of Corners of the Mouth — no vinyl signs. I don't have a problem with those codes. But the idea that one day a month that close to 5% of the working time of this tiny staff would be devoted to making sure that there are no banners in front of Corners of the Mouth and we've got electrical wiring and open wells I find really problematic. I understand that it's a very finite resource. I wonder whether there is a legal way of sending one letter and then taking them down and sending them a bill. Because this business of it dragging on through multiple reports and multiple warnings — because it's not clear -- Corners has known for ever that they can't put words saying food, produce, you know, snacks — I just don't believe — public education is fine, maybe a quarterly ad in the Beacon explaining what the rules are. But I would just wish that there could be a more expedited process and then maybe regularly a quarterly visit with a report to the Review board. I just don't want to see this abuse in the town. It's not fair to the people who comply. But I also think we need to be more clear about what the resources are. Because it's just ridiculous. Every time I would hear this I would think, Oh, what about wiring and open wells? You know, open sewage? I don't think so. So something — maybe a simplified process because some of these places have had multiple letters and they just blow them off. They should either get fined or just have the stuff taken. In my humble opinion.
BOARD CHAIR/SUPERVISOR CARRE BROWN’S BIG DAY!
(A simple transcription does not do justice to Board Chair Carre Brown’s “Supervisor’s Report”)
REDWOOD VALLEY does not need a Dollar General when the community has a fine little market that Dollar would seriously harm by undercutting prices on everyday items. Ukiah is just down the road and corporatized to the max, and about to be corporatized even more with a Ukiah-subsidized CostCo. Redwood Valley is still rural-residential and most people who live there, we daresay, prefer to keep it that way. The County's planning commission voted 4-2 to permit Dollar to proceed with a store in Redwood Valley because zoning permits it. Zoning permits all kinds of things inconsistent with an essentially rural area. The decision to approve another outside corporation from getting its hooks into us will, we presume, be appealed to the Supes who, we also presume, will vote it down.
COHO RETURN TO MENDO WATERSHED
by Glenda Anderson
Amid the state’s historic drought, scores of coho salmon have made their way back to a pair of coastal waterways in Mendocino County, marking a rare return for the endangered species that had been absent from the streams for at least five decades, according to the Mendocino Redwood Co., which owns most of the watershed where the fish were found.
In the past several weeks, biologists with the timber company have found 60 to 70 juvenile coho salmon within an estimated 8-mile stretch of Greenwood Creek and an upper tributary, Valenti Gulch, that is accessible to fish, said John Andersen, director of forest policy for Mendocino Redwood Co. Another 2 miles of the creek’s uppermost region is blocked by a 35-foot waterfall.
State Fish and Wildlife biologists earlier in the year spotted one adult female salmon, three adult carcasses and a spawning nest, or redd, in Greenwood Creek, officials said. Each redd contains about 2,500 eggs.
“We’re tickled pink,” Andersen said. He said there likely are more fish than those recorded because not all the pools in the stream were surveyed.
The discovery comes amid an otherwise grim time for California salmon, and particularly for coho, the most imperiled of the state’s once prolific salmon and steelhead trout runs. The four-year drought, combined with increased overall demands on North Coast streams — from agriculture, marijuana growers, rural residents, cities and others — have led to conditions in some waterways where fish are in danger of being stranded in ever-dwindling pools, according to wildlife officials.
This month, the state took unprecedented action to protect coho in four Sonoma County streams, imposing strict water use restrictions on the owners of about 3,750 parcels. State officials said the emergency regulations were prompted by flows that were about 90 percent below those measured in 2010. In May and June this year, about 2,800 juvenile coho were rescued from the four Sonoma County streams, officials said.
Despite the dire conditions, coho populations have been increasing on the Mendocino Coast during most of the drought. While there wasn’t much rain last year, it occurred at the right time for coho waiting to get upriver to spawn in November and December, said Shaun Thompson, a Mendocino Coast-based environmental scientist with Fish and Wildlife.
“It was a pretty good salmon run,” he said.
Estimates of coho populations in Mendocino Coast streams have increased from 898 in 2010 to 3,365 in 2013, Thompson said.
The return of coho in Greenwood Creek and its tributary appears to show that Mendocino Redwood Co.’s efforts to improve fish habitat are paying off, Andersen said. It also bolsters the company’s case that it can log its extensive North Coast forests while simultaneously restoring habitat decimated by a century of poor timber harvest practices that included massive clear-cuts.
Greenwood Creek, which empties into the ocean near the town of Elk, also was severely impacted by a dam built at its mouth in 1890. It’s unclear when the dam was removed.
Mendocino Redwood Co. owns about 9,500 acres, or 60 percent, of the estimated 15,833-square-mile Greenwood Creek watershed. Altogether, the Ukiah-based timber firm and its Humboldt County sister company own about 440,000 acres of forestland in the two counties, purchased in 1998 and 2008, respectively.
From the beginning, the timber company has worked to remove barriers to healthy fish populations, such as small and poorly maintained culverts, and roads that cause sediment to wash into streams, Andersen said. The company also ensures that streams are cool enough for fish by maintaining trees that provide shade and installing temperature gauges, he said.
Now that coho have been found in Greenwood Creek, it will become eligible for government grants to conduct further habitat restoration, such as placing woody debris in streams to provide the fish with cover from predators. Such projects typically are conducted with partner agencies and groups, including the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Trout and Trout Unlimited, company officials said.
Over time, the groups’ collective efforts have kept an estimated 17,000 cubic yards of sediment from running into Greenwood Creek, officials said.
Mendocino Redwood Co.’s timber operations have come under some scrutiny, most recently prompting criticism from residents worried about its use of herbicides to kill wide swaths of unwanted oak trees.
But Fish and Wildlife biologist Scott Harris said the firm’s management style is a vast improvement over older, heavier-handed logging methods and that it is making good progress toward making forests more hospitable to wildlife.
“MRC has done a lot of instream restoration,” he said.
Fish restoration efforts are underway throughout the state, and coho numbers have improved in many streams. It’s more rare to have them reappear in streams where they’ve been absent for decades, Thompson said.
But the reappearance of coho in a pocket of Mendocino County, especially in small numbers, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve made a comeback, Harris said. He noted cases where fish numbers have rebounded in some streams, only to again plummet.
Mendocino County has about 200 streams that historically were home to coho salmon. Thompson guessed fewer than half of those currently contain the fish. But he also noted that current stream surveys sample only a portion of each stream, so there could be fish present that are missed.
Harris said he’ll be confident that the fish have truly recovered when he starts hearing reports that they once more are so numerous a person could walk across rivers on their backs — a popular tale about the spawning runs once seen on the North Coast.
“That’s when I’ll know our job is done,” Harris said.
(Courtesy, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
In their annual, detailed physical of Earth's climate, scientists say the world is in increasingly hot and rising water.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the American Meteorological Society's annual state of the climate report, released Thursday, delves into the details of already reported record-smashing warmth globally in 2014, giving special attention to the world's oceans.
NOAA climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt, co-editor of the report, said the seas last year "were just ridiculous."
The report said ocean surface temperatures were the warmest in 135 years of records, with the seas holding record levels of heat energy down to 2,300 feet below the surface. Sea level also hit modern highs, partly because warmer water expands.
About 93 percent of the man-made heat energy from the burning of fossil fuels went into the world's oceans, said NOAA oceanographer Greg Johnson. And that heat energy trapped in the ocean affects all sorts of weather, including providing more fuel for tropical cyclones, said Tom Karl, director of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information.
All sorts of warming events shifted into overdrive, especially in the Pacific. In addition to a brewing El Nino — where weather worldwide is changed by warm water in parts of the central Pacific — there was a warming of the northeast Pacific nicknamed "The Blob" and a larger scale warming called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which often coincides with faster warming of the planet, Johnson said.
Johnson said subtropical fish not normally seen that far north were appearing off the coast of an unusually warm Alaska.
More than 400 scientists wrote the peer-reviewed 292-page study, the 25th year that the climate checkup was conducted. Its highlights include:
—Four different measuring systems concluded that 2014 was hottest year on record on Earth's surface. However, because of margins of error, there's a chance it could only be second hottest.
—Many places, such as Europe, not only had record heat on average, but record patches of extreme heat.
—There were 91 tropical cyclones worldwide in 2014, slightly more than the 30-year average of 82.
—Permafrost in Alaska measuring sites thawed, as temperatures at 65 feet underground set record highs for the second year in a row.
—Glaciers worldwide continued to shrink, but not at a record pace.
—Arctic sea ice, while not at a record setting low last year, is still declining over the long-term.
—However, Antarctic sea ice hit record high levels for the third straight year; different factors aside from temperature have been a cause, said NOAA climate scientist Jessica Blunden.
Jeff Severinghaus of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who wasn't part of the report, said if this is Earth's annual checkup, "the doctor is saying 'you are gravely ill’."
(Courtesy, the Associated Press)
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 18, 2015
ARLEEN ARNOLD-WILLIAMS, Redwood Valley. Possession of controlled substance, failure to pay.
JOHN BOLTON IV, Ukiah. Drunk in public. (Frequent flyer.)
NIKOLAS COFFEY, Potter Valley. DUI, DUI-suspended license.
LEE CROCKETT, Clearlake/Ukiah. Drunk in public.
ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ, Ukiah. DUI-drugs/alcohol, possession of controlled substance.
KATHLEEN GREENE, Redwood Valley. Under influence of controlled substance, probation revocation.
ANGEL HISTO, Talmage. Court order violation, failure to appear.
AMANDA JEWELL, Willits. Under influence of controlled substance.
JENNIFER MARTINEZ, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
AMANDA PURCELL, Ukiah. DUI-drugs, under influence of controlled substance, suspended license.
DESIREA RODARTE, Fort Bragg. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, battery.
DAVID SANDIEGO JR., Redwood Valley. Violation of protective order, failure to appear, failure to pay, probation revocation.
JUSTIN SETTLES, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
PHILIP STANEK, Covelo. Court order violation.
WALTER STOUGH, Albion. Possession of controlled substance, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
KAWLIGA THOMPSON, Willits. Domestic assault. Probation revocation.
BENJAMIN WILKIN, Oakland/Ukiah. Possession of meth for sale, sale of meth, suspended license.
DAVID WOLF, Fort Bragg. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun.
DARIEL ZAPANTA, Ukiah. Possession of controlled substance, resisting.
A few days ago President Obama commuted 46 people from federal prisons around the country who were serving time for non-violent drug ‘abuse’ cases. Most (not all) involved marijuana. This means he only has another 60,000 people to go! Maybe more!?
As illogical & nonsensical as they are, there were parameters to the pseudo*pardons. One being; the commuted (not pardoned), had to have served at least 10 years of their overly harsh and ‘unfair’ sentences. Which sparks the next fitting question. Isn’t 10 years for any nonviolent drug offense already a punishment that doesn’t fit the crime? Maybe we should first ask, what is the crime? Where is the wrong? Who’s been wronged? What does the marijuana user do that alcohol and diet soda drinkers don’t do? What does the toker do that a smoker doesn’t? What do pain pills do that cannabis can’t? We have been conditioned to imagine there is a crime going on here. Ask yourself, what is the crime of it? WHAT IS IT? Are marijuana users supping at the wrong water fountain?
The next irrational remedy is jail. What solution is satisfied by putting growers/users in jail? Are we stopping or even slowing the use of marijuana? Are we saving public funds by locking them up for however many months and years? Where is the justice in marijuana laws? Are the growers being punished because they’ve hurt someone? Is marijuana the reason our society is declining? Does anyone ask themselves why we spend so much time and concern with marijuana?
The authorities have two overriding ‘motives’ with regard to marijuana. Money & MONEY! Not necessarily in that order.
Marijuana has become the biggest economic component in Northern California. Everyone north of Santa Rosa is obliged [sic] to the marijuana ‘industry,’ whether they are directly involved or enjoy the fruits of supporting or being ancillary to it. When the police and authorities go after the growers, they are going after their neighbors and constituents. They are hurting their own communities for their purloined piece of the lucre. There is no moral issue here. There is no ethical point.
There is just a group of people that exploit the ambiguities of an organic medicament and abuse their force to extort and steal part of the booty. This is what it’s really about. Simply, a couple of public agencies insuring their places in the economic pecking order by willfully hurting and stealing from others. The terrorizing of family farms by the authorities has nothing to do with public safety or a moral imperative. It’s all about the wampum.
No one would be growing marijuana if no one is buying it. The hypocrisy in this is glaring to anyone who bends their back and sweats to earn a living as a grower of marijuana. There is no shortage of demand and there is no shortage of ‘respectable’ patients either. Musicians, doctors, athletes, lawyers, clerks, mechanics, retailers, carpenters, judges, engineers, firemen and cops (to mention a few). The hypocrisy is as sticky as THC.
This means the same neighbors who stand-by as the farmers get arrested and shaken down are complicit in the corruption and criminal behavior of the police who take advantage of antique notions and contrived legalities in order to exploit and hurt their own neighbors for money. The sheriffs are no different than a delinquent who robs his next door neighbor because he wants something he doesn’t have the will to earn.
It’s really time to stop! Time to stop hurting others for no good reason. The sheriff and the DA need to get on the justifiable side of this issue and rethink their terror for money strategy. It would be beneficial for all to work together and appreciate their contributions. This is not as complex as some would like to make out. It is really a matter of community. We can be greedy and short sighted and let a good crop divide us, Or we can work together to make Mendocino County the place people come to get the best marijuana grown (before they stop in Napa & Sonoma for wine). It’s only a matter of time. Why not now?
Robin Woulde, Ukiah
GOVERNOR BROWN APPOINTS KIMBERLY RODRIGUES, 56, of Woodland, to the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection. Rodrigues has been director of the Hopland Research and Extension Center at the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources since 2015, where she has held several positions since 1999, including executive director of the Academic Personnel Unit and North Coast and mountain regional director. She was a forestry advisor at the University of California Cooperative Extension from 1991 to 1999, a tree improvement specialist at Simpson Timber Company from 1985 to 1991 and chief forester at Applied Forest Genetics from 1984 to 1985. Rodrigues is a member of the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in environmental science, policy and management from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master of Science degree in forest genetics from Colorado State University. This position requires Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Rodrigues is a Democrat.
ON-LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Early last Thursday, Peter Berg, the Hollywood director of films like Friday Night Lights, Hancock, and Lone Survivor, and who created the sports-centric NBC TV series Friday Night Lights, wrote the following on his Instagram account. Boasting side-by-side photos of Jenner and U.S. Army veteran Gregory D. Gadson, the meme read: “One man traded 2 legs for the freedom of the other to trade 2 balls for 2 boobs. Guess which man made the cover of Vanity Fair, was praised for his courage by President Obama and is to be honored with the ‘Arthur Ashe Courage Award’ by ESPN?”
THE HYENA, hermaphroditic, self-eating devourer of the dead, trailer of calving cows, ham-stringer, potential biter-off of your face at night while you slept, sad yowler, camp-follower, stinking, foul, with jaws that crack the bones the lion leaves, belly dragging, loping away on the brown plain, looking back, mongrel dog-smart in the face…
— Hemingway, Green Hills of Africa
IT IS HEALTHY no doubt for “ordinary” Americans to come into contact with a charismatic (charming or not) “democratic socialist” who denounces economic inequality and plutocracy. But it is not particularly healthy for ordinary Americans to be encouraged in the false belief that progressive, even socialist ideals and programs can be meaningfully advanced through U.S. electoral politics and either of the two capitalist political parties (once rightly described by the great American Socialist Upton Sinclair as “two wings of the same bird of prey”). As the International Socialist Organization’s Lance Selfa shows in his carefully researched history of the Democratic Party, “history’s second most enthusiastic capitalist party” (the Democratic Party organization) has “time and again betrayed the aspiration of ordinary people while pursuing an agenda favorable to big business and U.S. imperial ambitions.” It has also proven itself time and again to be the leading graveyard of grassroots protest and social movements beneath and beyond the nation’s recurrent staggered electoral spectacles, which are deceptively sold to the populace as the only politics that matters…
— Paul Street
SMARTER FOREIGN POLICIES OR BIGGER BLOWBACKS?
by Ralph Nader
Are Washington’s relentless bombings and military immersions in sectarian battles within Arab and neighboring regions accelerating the spread of terrorist attacks? Yes. The recent rash of terror attacks in Kuwait, Tunisia, Somalia, France, and other countries are tragic examples of the strategic failures of our government and its very heavy reliance on military interventions, including the omnipresent drones that terrorize civilians.
From the first bombings of al-Qaeda’s small band of fighters in the mountains of Afghanistan to the toppling of the Taliban government there by President George Bush in 2001, all Washington’s weaponry, soldiers, and trillions of dollars have accomplished is to spread al-Qaeda’s numerous offshoots into over a dozen countries.
The CIA calls this “blowback.” For fourteen years this “blowback” has destabilized countries, initiated civil wars costing millions of mostly civilian lives and leaving others sickened and injured, and caused many families to be driven out of their homes as masses of weeping refugees.
In the meantime, hatred of the U.S. in those regions grows. The attackers we have helped to provoke are becoming better trained on how to use their weaponry to create more devastation over larger ranges of territories.
Could there have been an overreaction by the U.S. militarists, including Republicans such as Senator Lindsay Graham (R- SC) and Democrats such as then-Senator John Kerry (D-MA)? Kerry, especially, had a record in the Senate so extreme as to criticize the belligerent Bush/Cheney administration for not deploying more weaponry and soldiers and invading more countries.
The effects of this widespread violence that overrides sovereign rights of other countries and violates international law and our Constitution also have ongoing domestic consequences. All empires eventually devour themselves; the U.S. is proving to be no exception. Unlawful mass surveillance and violations of due process and civil liberties by the misnamed Patriot Act have created a climate of suspicion that criminalizes speech and expands malicious prosecutions.
Moreover, trillions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have been wasted destroying other countries and bloating our military budget. Our soldiers and veterans pay the price with painful (physical, mental, and emotional) experiences. The massive sums of taxpayer dollars could have been used to create well-paying jobs repairing and rebuilding America’s crumbling public facilities—its schools, water/sewage systems, public transit, roads, bridges, airports, ports, clinics, libraries, and parks. Knee-jerk militarism and corporatism do nothing to improve the quality of life in our country or to promote global security.
Our government spends tens of billions of dollars on intelligence gathering and strategic planning. Yet, our government officials seem to have underestimated the impact that these policies have on our adversaries abroad. Our vulnerabilities have revealed themselves through profitable fear-mongering. One significant terror attack can, once again, turn our country upside–down and continue to divert our resources and attention away from very serious health and safety priorities that can save countless American lives here at home.
Osama bin Laden wanted economic damage and suffering in the U.S. after 9/11 far more than he wanted to cause a mass loss of life. He is getting his wish for U.S. immolation, year after year.
When is our government going to admit that fighting terror with more mechanized state terror is not working? We have much more to lose than those adversaries in these impoverished countries. They are there every day and night, knowing their terrain, their tribes, and how to appeal to cultural stamina for repelling foreign invaders.
Some have asserted that all this American “blood and treasure” was worth it because there has not been another 9/11. However, this has been rebuked by subsequent evidence that has shown that al-Qaeda had no second strike capability in the U.S. The hijackings on 9/11 revealed the many weaknesses in aviation security, from a lack of proper screenings to unhardened cockpit doors to government agencies not sharing counterterrorism intelligence.
Unfortunately, there is no indication that the Obama administration has any diplomatic plan to extricate our country from these uncontrollable vortexes, including Hillary Clinton’s undeclared, unfunded war on Libya and the chaotic, violent aftermath that has spread into central Africa.
There needs to be a stronger focus on humanitarian programs to help those suffering from the death and destruction in their communities and countries. That is the real way to win “hearts and minds” and for those with a focus on the bottom-line, it is far cheaper in the long run to fund development in these regions than it is to fund our ever-growing militarism. As Ashraf Ghani has explained well before being elected President of Afghanistan, justice is the best answer to terrorism. The alternative is perpetual, expanding wars with no exit strategy.
Maybe our peace-waging groups such as Veterans for Peace, composed of men and women who have served in hot wars, can gain access to some presidential candidates, such as Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD), and James Webb (former Senator (D-VA) and Secretary of the Navy), who could launch a serious national focus on replacing the failed militarization of foreign policy that is eating away at our country’s future.
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)
A CHANGE IS GONNA COME
I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I've been running ever since
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will
It's been too hard living but I'm afraid to die
Cause I don't know what's up there beyond the sky
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will
I go to the movie and I go downtown somebody keep telling me don't hang around
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will
Then I go to my brother
And I say brother help me please But he winds up knockin' me
Back down on my knees
There been times that I thought I couldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will.
— Sam Cooke, 1963
GROUPS DEMAND MORE TIME FOR REVIEW OF JERRY BROWN'S DELTA TUNNELS PLAN
by Dan Bacher
In their zeal to rush the controversial Delta tunnels plan through, the Brown and Obama administrations are doing everything they can to limit and suppress public comment on the revised EIS/EIS for the plan, one that is potentially the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history.
The California Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation imposed a public comment period of only 45 business days last Thursday when they announced the release of the revised documents. Comments are due by close of business Monday, August 31, 2015.
On July 16, a broad coalition of environmental and community organizations and California Indian Tribes demanded more time for the public to consider the controversial - and widely-criticized - public works project.
In a letter sent to the Department of the Interior, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, California Natural Resources Agency, and the California Department of Water Resources, the groups and Tribes decried the accelerated 45-day public comment period and seeks an extension to a standard 120-day comment period that will close on November 14, 2015.
The signees to the letter are Conner Everts, the Co-Facilitator for the Environmental Water Caucus (EWC); Robert Wright, Senior Counsel for Friends of the River (FOR); Carolee Krieger, Executive Director of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN); Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA); and Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta (RTD).
“The short public comment period looks like a deliberate effort to make it virtually impossible for members of the public to be able to comprehend and respond with meaningful comments on the new NEPA and CEQP document," the groups said in the letter. "The BDCP agencies took almost one year to prepare the new documents and there is no public need for haste in providing too short a comment period.”
The groups emphasized that despite more than 18,000 public comments on the original draft EIR/EIS, and despite repeated requests since December 2013, officials have refused to post any of the detailed comments by organizations or public agencies on the BDCP website.
“This deliberate concealment of independent and contrary views and information from the public also now makes it more difficult for the public to prepare meaningful comments on the new NEPA and CEQA documents. Moreover, comments such as those from the EPA and Army Corps constitute critical new information that would be the foundation for many informed comments at this time," the letter explained.
The letter also noted that the Department of Water Resources has declared it will not produce technical documents requested by public interest groups until August 28, 2015, just three days before the 45-day comment period ends.
The letter concluded, "In sum, the current comment period is inadequate because it fails to provide members of the public with adequate time for review. The proposed project is the most controversial public works project in California history. It is extremely complicated and the subject of voluminous analysis in the form of project justification and advocacy. The subject is critically important to every Californian. We therefore request the additional time necessary to attempt to carefully scrutinize the subject NEPA and CEQA documents and then provide meaningful input by way of public comment."
You can read the letter here: http://www.friendsoftheriver.org/site/DocServer/7_16_15_comment_time_ext_req.pdf?docID=10261
The agencies recently divided the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the twin tunnels into two new components - California Water Fix, the conveyance part of the project and California Eco Restore, the habitat "restoration" component. However, tunnels critics note that the "revised" project is essentially the same water grab for corporate agribusiness, developers and Southern California water agencies as the old one.
The tunnels will hasten the extinction of Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations of the Trinity and Klamath rivers, yet they will not provide any new water, according to Delta advocates.
"Virtually every promulgated statute and regulatory standard protecting the Delta has been routinely ignored and violated over the last three decades and, consequently, any assurances and promises by Delta tunnel proponents are worthless," said Bill Jennings, CSPA Executive Director. "California has been in a drought cycle more than forty percent of the time over the last hundred years and the tunnels will not provide a single additional drop of water. They will, however, further degrade Delta water quality and exacerbate conditions that have brought fisheries to the brink of extinction.”
The reason for the state and federal governments' continued cheerleading for the Delta tunnels plan, in spite of the project having no basis whatsoever in science, logic or economics, is due to the biggest issue we face in water and other environmental politics in California and the nation today - the capture of the regulatory apparatus by the regulated. Corporate agribusiness, developers, Southern California water agencies, and other corporate interests are working hand in hand with the agencies to build the tunnels.
This capture of the regulatory apparatus by the regulated was highlighted in April when Delta advocates slammed Brown for breaking his campaign promise that bond money wouldn't be used to mitigate the environmental damage caused by the tunnels — a $25 billion project designed to export Sacramento River water to agribusiness interests, Southern California water agencies, and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations.
The admission by the Brown administration that it could use money from Proposition 1, the water bond, to pay for "habitat mitigation" linked to the construction and operation of the massive delta tunnels is no surprise, especially when you consider the Big Money interests that dumped $21,820,691 into the campaign. (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2015/04/29/why-governor-brown-broke-his-prop-1-promise-big-money-interests-dumped-218-million-into-the-prop-1-campaign)
The contributors are a who’s who of Big Money interests in California, including corporate agribusiness groups, billionaires, timber barons, Big Oil, the tobacco industry, and the California Chamber of Commerce. There is no doubt that these wealthy corporate interests are expecting a big return for their "investment" in California’s play-to-pay politic system, including the construction of the twin tunnels and new dams.
The Winnemem Wintu Tribe, other tribal representatives and their allies also challenged the capture of the regulatory apparatus by corporate interests on June 29 and 30 when they rallied, chanted, sang and waved signs on the sidewalk in front of Westin Hotel outside the Second California Water Summit in Sacramento.
They convened to protest Governor Jerry Brown’s efforts to exclude California Tribes, environmentalists, fishermen and other key stakeholders in this public meeting about massive state water infrastructure projects proposed under Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond.
“This is a summit that is meant to help these people peddle Brown’s projects that will benefit his buddies: agribusiness and water sellers in Southern California,” said Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. “They are not interested in what’s best for the people of California and their children.”
Members of the Concow Maidu, Miwok, Hoopa Valley, Pomo, Wailaki and other tribes and Native Hawaiian groups joined with local activists as they shouted, “Water is sacred, water is life, protect the salmon, protect water rights.”
For more information, go to: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/07/04/18774455.php