Off the Record (Oct 7, 2015)

FORT BRAGG declared a Stage 3 water emergency last Friday. Stage 1 means bone dry, so there's a ways to go before Fort Bragg becomes cactus and tumbleweed. A combination of low tides and diminished flow in the Noyo means that the water they will be able to supply will now be salty! All options look crappy. It appears from their discussion that water consumption in Fort Bragg which is daily about 350,000 gallons will have to be reduced to about half of that, possibly from now on. Also they have no clue how to do that. There is no assurance that even once the tides moderate that water will again be palatable. I just tasted it and it seems ok to me, but in the emergency meeting they indicated that they are right now using up their tiny reserves, and once these are exhausted the water in the tap is headed south, as far as drinkability goes. (Rex Gressett)

FORT BRAGG should have a new reservoir in place by next spring, ensuring that even in drought years enough rainfall will be collected to quench FB's annual thirst. A smallish affair that will more resemble a pond, the fresh water will be stored behind a small dam near Hare Creek off Highway 20 at the very end of Summers Lane.

WITH AN EXPANDED water supply, Fort Bragg may see something of a mini-building boom, infill on the town's many empty lots.

FORT BRAGG also announced late Friday that it would not sell any more water to water haulers.

REGARDING the ghastly project proposed for South Fort Bragg, a reader writes: "The most disturbing item, to me, is the letter from Cal Fish and Wildlife, which I assume was written during the hearings on the Hare Creek Mall last year. The city promotes the annual Salmon BBQ, world’s largest, raising money for salmon habitat restorations, while destroying the habitats in the Noyo and Pudding Creek watersheds. (Salmon served at the BBQ these days comes from out of state, no longer from local waters.). The City ignored the warnings and proceeded to approve a new Taco Bell and a second brewery, a very thirsty enterprise. Now Fort Bragg residents and local businesses are forced to contend with a Stage 3 water emergency, a situation created by the city’s never-ending search for tax revenues, regardless of the source, choosing to ignore not only warnings from state environmental agencies, but the ramifications of climate change and years of severe drought. I suspect the developers of the planned mall won’t take too kindly if they cannot build a project so unwisely encouraged by the people who run the City, and a lawsuit against Fort Bragg gov could very well be looming. Now we get to see what kind of spin the city will try to put on this fiasco."

A NUMBER of in-custody defendants in criminal court this week were unable to go forward due to the inability or refusal of Ortner to provide 1368 Competency Training Evaluations. Anthony Adams of the Office of the Public Defender told visiting Judge Jeffrey Tauber Thursday morning that on September 10th the problem had become so onerous that Judge John Behnke said he would issue an OSC (order to show cause) to Ortner.

MENTALLY TROUBLED defendants are stacking up at the jail with no relief in sight. Adams noted that the problem was "systemic, impacting a large number of our clients. And nothing we do works. As soon as we solve one problem, another one pops up, and it has gotten to the point where the confusion has become pervasive." (Bruce McEwen)

COUNTY MENTAL HEALTH has a current budget of $26,209,785 with $19,866,862 going to the ASOs (Ortner & Redwood Quality Management Services). $26-million-plus should buy a lot of Mental Health services including most of the State mandated ones. Where are the services? Where is that money ending up? When will it be reclaimed by the County and used for patient medical services, crisis services, and other treatment support in our communities?

LOTS OF US wonder what Mendocino County is getting for the $7-8 million a year we've handed to the Ortner Management Group of Yuba City to treat the adult mentally ill among us. And now the courts are wondering, too.

Shoemaker
Shoemaker

MANAGEMENT MATH. Ex-Mendo Supervisor Richard Shoemaker, a triple dipper off his many Mendocino County management gigs, has been hired as Point Arena's City Manager. Point Arena has a population of 500 people. Shoemaker is taking off $127 per resident, a lot of management per capita. So that's 63500/500 = $127 per year per resident in Point Arena for this particular hustler.

SAGE SANGIANCOMO rakes in about $250k for managing Ukiah's 16,000 persons. Or, 250000/16000 = about $16 per resident per year.

SANTA ROSA'S city manager, Kathleen Millison, is a real bargain at $210k for 172,000 people. Or, 210000/172000 = $1.22 (about a buck and a quarter) per resident.

ECONOMIES OF SCALE and all, you know, because all cities have to be run the same way and there's all that work no matter how small the population. Which translates to more money for fewer people. If PA had 100 people they'd probably have to pay Shoemaker $200k!

HOW ABOUT ANDERSON VALLEY'S CSD General Manager Joy Andrews? She's part time. Makes under $25 per hour for 80 hours a month, or about $24k per year. Does an excellent job doing real tasks like payroll and budgeting and accounting and auditing and grant writing and a real board which she has to report to and answers real questions about her work. Anderson Valley has maybe 3500 people total. So, $24,000 / 3500 = About $7 a head.

TO SUMMARIZE, CLASS:

  • Shoemaker: $127 per resident per year
  • Sangiacomo: $16 per resident per year
  • Andrews: $7 per resident per year
  • Millison: $1.22 per resident per year

WHICH BEGS the question: Why does Point Arena even need a full-time "manager"? They already have a full-time "city clerk" don't they? And a part time city attorney? What does the unpaid PA City Council do? Sit around trying to think up things to fill Shoemaker's workweek with?

THE STATE did a surprise audit of County Mental Health/HHSA last week. Seems that they can enforce compliance with Federal and State laws regarding Mental Health treatment services and other HHSA services which, at this time in Mendocino County, are not being delivered to very many eligible people.

A READER COMMENTS re the privatized Ortner Mental Health contract: “The money doesn't go to the clients or the line staff. It goes to paying hotel rooms, travel and food for the managers. And anyone who comes to visit or stay. They micromanage, have no idea about our County. They promised housing and there is none. There have been housing opportunities that they botched. They have several seasoned staff who have worked in this county with over 40 years experience but they are never utilized. Ortner is for profit and has been from the beginning. They don't play well with the jail, the hospitals. They think they have a handle on UPD and Sheriffs but they don't.”

THE LATEST MASS SHOOTING has provoked the usual post-mortem outrage, all of it futile, all of it leading to nothing in the way of even obvious, mostly undisputed, gun law reforms. The true nuts resist all restrictions on guns, as do their elected enablers. Left alone, they'd be stockpiling howitzers, and may well be, given the availability of everything and anything if you can pay for it.

IF A CLASSROOM of small children can be mowed down by a lunatic wielding an automatic weapon without an enactment of immediate gun control reforms, well, the conclusion has to be that there will never be serious legislative action to at least try to keep homicidal maniacs from buying guns.

AND THERE'S THE RUB. The world is awash in weapons. Anybody can get a gun one way or the other. The Oregon shooter, and I agree with the Sheriff that his name is an obscenity and should never be mentioned publicly, bought his weapons legally, and Oregon has a lot of commonsense gun laws that many states don't. If you're a certified nut, a documented criminal or a person affiliated with terror gangs, you can't buy a gun. But we have so many free range nuts these random massacres will go on and on.

BUT THE OREGON SHOOTER had no criminal history, no obvious mental illness, apart from being a registered Republican. He was just a mean, stupid bastard with perverted delusions of megalomania. "If I kill a bunch of people I'll be famous." That was his thinking.

IF OREGON BOY were merely non-lethal stupid he'd sit happily at home until he died of diabetes playing Grand Theft Auto. There are millions of guys like Oregon Boy in this country because this country is totally batshit every which way, a fact of American life our career elected officials either don't know or pretend they don't know. The hippies were right: It's so nuts the only rational thing to do is to drop out and try to go about life that leaves the lunacy at the door.

LEFT OUT of all the post-shooting lamentations and analysis is another basic fact of American life. Ready? Millions of people feel unsafe, menaced even, by daily life. They have zero faith in our institutions. The rightwing, loosely defined, feels the menace more acutely, probably because they tend overwhelmingly to be fearful of people unlike themselves, other races especially, but everyone feels things have careened beyond what most of us recognize as reason.

BUT DAILY LIFE, in many areas of the country, is objectively more menacing. There are more and more violently unhinged people on the street, and more and more people unable to function at even minimal levels of competence in a society that doesn't need their labor, doesn't need them. Our kind of survival capitalism makes things worse every day for more and more people. No government will ever get the guns out of this crumbling sucker.

REEL QUICK MOVIE REVIEW of BLACK MASS. Not very interesting. Johnny Depp as the famous Boston gangster Whitey Bulger is done up in a kind of Dracula face mask and a black plastic-looking imitation leather jacket that no thug ever wore outside of the pretend ones at Westside Story. Depp just looks weird, not menacing, and as the make believe Bulger he spends his days choking, stabbing, shooting, even hanging people to death. Sadists will love the prolonged execution scenes. The rest of the cast is very good. But overall, this thing is just one more gangster flick not worth rushing out to see. A much better celebration of criminal ultra-vi is Narcos on the Netflicks channel. Based on the life of drug baron Pablo Escobar, featuring unknown actors, and apparently filmed in Colombia, it is a fascinating, historically accurate look at the big boys of the drug business.

CLAIM BY ANDREA KEENE of Mendocino filed 9/2/15 and is on the Supes' agenda for October 5th where it will be auto-rejected on the auto-advice of Mendocino County's hard-hitting County Counsel. Ms. Keene is married to Doug McKenty, well-known as a KZYX dissident. Their Elk home was raided by the Drug Task Force last year. The assumption of the seizure is that the money in the bank account are the proceeds from marijuana farming. Here is Ms. Keene's claim: Location of Loss: Wells Fargo Bank Savings Account #2096851965 Description: “Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office seized funds from my bank account. Said funds were a legally obtained gift from my grandfather Orlo Keene given to me for the purpose of making a down payment on a house I was trying to buy. Due to the loss of these funds I was forced to withdraw from escrow on the property, leaving me, my husband [Doug McKenty] and our two children with nowhere to move following our eviction.” Amount: $30,406.04. Date of loss: 7/8/15.

Raymond 'Shrimp Boy' Chow
Raymond 'Shrimp Boy' Chow

A FEDERAL PROSECUTOR said in court Monday in San Francisco there’s evidence that links Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow to the unsolved slaying of a Chinatown leader in 2006. Instead, they say evidence for Leung’s death points to another man, the now deceased Jim Tat Kong. The feds claim it was Jim Tat Kong who was attempting to take control of the Hop Sing Tong in the struggle among gangsters to control Chinatown rackets.

THE LOCAL ANGLE. Kong and Cindy Bao Feng Chen were found dead on  October 17, 2013, near Fort Bragg. The FBI claims that Kong allegedly put a hit out on Chow in 2008. Bay Area media subsequently reported: “Jim Tat Kong’s death was identified as a double suicide by responding agencies.”

NOPE. The deaths of Jim Tat Kong and Cindy Bao Feng Chen were not described as a double suicide by responding agencies. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Department said the couple had been shot in the backs of their heads execution style as they were seated in Ms. Chen's van off Highway 20 near Fort Bragg. Among items found nearby was a map outlining the route from Market Street in San Francisco to the Fort Bragg area of the Mendocino Coast.

MS. CHEN was a wealthy San Francisco real estate investor. Kong, as mentioned, had associations with Chinese gangs and gambling interests. The feds later claimed they have a tape recording of Chow removing his protection of Kong and soliciting another person to murder him.

THE DOUBLE MURDER of Kong and Chen at the bark dump off Highway 20 near Fort Bragg, was also investigated by the Fort Bragg Advocate's ace sleuth, Tony Reed. Reed, we will recall, has also led the Sheriff's Department to the remains of Mr. Guzman, the 70-year-old Fort Bragg man whose body was belatedly discovered, thanks to Reed, halfway down an ocean bluff north of Westport. Guzman had suffered a gunshot wound to his side, and one round from his handgun had been expended. Reed, looking around the area of Guzman's peculiar death — was it from a gunshot, a fall, murder, or all three? — located items belonging to Guzman which led to the dead man's corpse a week after he died.

WE WROTE two years ago that Advocate reporter Tony Reed "has been poking around the site where Cindy Bao Feng Chen, 38, and Jim Tat Kong, 51, were found dead from 'wounds to the head in Ms. Bao's gray Toyota minivan.' The 'wounds to the head' were subsequently revealed as gunshots to the head by the Sheriff's Department. “It's unknown,” Reed writes, “if paper and other garbage found in the area is related to the investigation, but some of it raises questions. The wooded area near the former bark dump, which is now owned by the Mendocino Coast Recreation and Park District, is barricaded with rocks and stumps to prevent off-road vehicle access. However, several trails cut through the trees and allow access to the property from Highway 20 and Summers Lane. The site has been used as an illegal dumping area for many years. Commonly found garbage includes beer cans and packaging, vehicle parts, clothing and tires. Among items found Monday within 100 yards of the scene by this reporter were a computer printout of directions from Market Avenue [sic] in San Francisco to Leisure Time RV Park, just west of the location. Also found and photographed among nearby trash was a five-inch folding-blade knife with a Masonic emblem and the words, ‘Virtus ionxut mors non separabit,’ which translates to, ‘Whom virtue has united, death will not separate.’ In and around bags of garbage in the trees next to the location was a great deal of mail, credit cards and personal information belonging to Steven Claus, of Fort Bragg. Claus has been arrested four times this year by Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies…”

THE MURDER OF KONG was not a big loss to humanity. Here's a 1994 story by the Chronicle’s fine crime reporter Jim Doyle describing his activities: "A federal jury in San Francisco has convicted two Bay Area men on heroin-trafficking charges in a case that federal officials say is inextricably linked to a secret Chinese crime society. The case marks one of the first US trials in which the government put actors on the stand to read Chinese-to-English-language transcripts of wiretapped telephone conversations. Sam (Runaway) Chan of San Francisco and Jim Tat Kong of San Pablo were found guilty Tuesday of conspiring in 1990 to transport about $1 million worth of China White heroin from Thailand to the United States. The two were also convicted of a racketeering charge and of selling counterfeit travelers checks to an FBI undercover agent. During the one-month trial, English transcripts of phone calls made from Bangkok, Hong Kong, Macau and the People's Republic of China were read to the jury by actors who performed the roles of Chan, Kong and their associates. According to a government witness, Chan is a member of the “14K” Chinese triad — an organized-crime syndicate linked to crimes including murder and drug trafficking in the United States and overseas. During the trial, Assistant US Attorney Barbara Silano described Kong as being involved in various illicit activities including sports bookmaking and loansharking. “In the Chinese triads, everything is fair game,” Silano said in an interview. “Unlike the traditional Mafia — where `families' divide up who's going to do drugs and who's going to do prostitution — in the Chinese triads, there are no bounds on what you can do. It's wide open.” In return for introducing an FBI undercover operative to his heroin sources in Bangkok, Kong allegedly asked the operative — who posed as a heroin buyer — for support in taking over a $1 million protection racket in San Francisco's Chinatown. Chan and Kong testified that they were confidence men who had no access to heroin and were simply trying to “rip off” the drug buyer. In court documents, the government also accused Chan and Kong of participating in a human-smuggling operation that ran Chinese immigrants with false passports through the Dominican Republic and into the United States. But the two men were not charged with alien smuggling."

I SAW THIS intriguing comment in the 24 September issue of the LRB: "…I was diagnosed with cancer shortly after my 75th birthday. There was a big tumor in my kidney, then they found an offshoot in my left lung, and then two more in the right. But where I live, in Belgium, the surgeon was dismissive of chemotherapy. ‘We don't like the side effects,’ he remarked. Instead, their way of dealing with cancer is to cut it out with sharp knives. So I had four serious surgical operations in the space of seven months. I couldn't say there were no after-effects: I felt weak for some time. But muscles recover, and strength comes back. I wonder whether there is a debate in Britain (America) about the relative merits of chemicals and surgery for removing cancers — is one side or the other causing unnecessary suffering to its patients? — or is this just a matter of idiosyncratic national preference, like the right temperature for serving beer?”

JOHN COATE'S delusional self-assessment of his work at KZYX isn't surprising in a time and a place where self-evaluations, rubber-stamped by credulous and irresponsible boards of directors, are a fact of civic life. Put video cameras and a team of sports writers to work evaluating the work performances of Mendo's lead bureaucrats and we'd see some sad sights.

ACCORDING TO COATE “I was the GM of KZYX radio in Mendocino County and the Executive Director of Mendocino County Public Broadcasting from 2008 until 2015. KZYX is listener-supported public radio. It serves a wide geographic area that is quite rural. When I arrived the station was mired in debt. Most of that debt is paid off and the station is better than it ever was.”

IF THE FINANCIAL picture is so rosy, let's see the books. Coate, instinctively secretive and a generally chickenbleep dude, always resisted transparency and, given the over-large management and pay structure at the station, added to a shrinking membership, we'll soon learn that KZYX badly needs to take a hard fiscal look at the way it operates. But its board, being the usual Mendo board of happy faces and professional joiners, is incapable of hard looks at anything. I've assumed for a long time that the books have been cooked and, by now, are probably totally fried.

AS A STATION MEMBER but infrequent listener, I have to say I think programming fairly reflects the gamut of local big issue public opinion, left to soft right (NPR). The local news reporting is improved. What's missing is the kind of freewheeling call-in talk about local matters that Doug McKenty and Norman deVall used to do, and before them, KC Meadows who did it best of all.

AND NOW for an instructive trip down Memory Lane. A pair of putative liberals and dope monomaniacs — Pebs Trippett and Lynda McClure — got KC removed from her volunteer slot as a bi-monthly talk show host. And even station program director, Mary Aigner, ordinarily sacrosanct, got herself suspended because she said on-air that her neighborhood (Hungry Hollow, Nash Mill Road) was teeming with growers claiming that they had only the purest of the pure medical marijuana motives. The stoners claimed that Mares' opinion was outtaline and that KC wasn't an 'objective' moderator because she'd also ventured her opinion that the pending ballot measure under discussion was probably a good idea, aimed as it was at bringing some order to the local pot industry. People still get thrown off the air for even dumber reasons, and, ironically, it's Aig who does most of the throwing.

I ALSO DISAGREE with Marco McClean's notion that all programmers should be paid. Please, Marco. Totally impractical, even with a pared-down management structure.  How you gonna pay 120 programmers? Public radio stations, especially in rural areas, are volunteer-reliant by their very nature. I'd pay extra for a weekly public affairs on local matters but only if it were hosted by someone smart and articulate like Ms. Meadows. But smart and articulate are like kryptonite to the reigning KZYX politburo, hence, well, no need for the mantra. (Pay me to listen and I promise to tune in an hour a week.)

NOT THAT IT'S LIKELY, but if KZYX were ever to hire a smart, reasonable, friendly, hard working person to oversee Mendocino County Public Radio, membership would double and its local news and discussion shows would become must listening. As is, with the thing being run like a private club, KZYX will continue to flatline.

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