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Off the Record (Nov 25, 2015)

THE TINY HOUSES VILLAGE proposed for Ukiah by the Supervisors, with Supervisor McCowen leading the charge will, if it proceeds, be an interesting experiment. If you came in late the Supervisors would provide housing for some of the homeless via some portion of a $1.5 million Community Development Block Grant.

THE PROPOSAL is to install Tiny Houses — each less than 200 square feet — on a parcel near the former Buddy Eller Center on the east side of Ukiah. Redwood Children’s Services (RCS) is requesting $604,000 to buy the parcel, and $400,000 to purchase the “Tiny House village,” for a total of about $1 million. The village would consist of common buildings besides the teensy houses themselves. The houses would be funded through community donations, meaning, it seems, individuals and the kinder service organizations might sponsor individuals’ hobbit houses. Put us down for Scott and Kelisha House, assuming couples are welcome.

FORT BRAGG has enjoyed its best football season ever and is set to play off for the NorCal small school championship against Marin Catholic. I'm already angry. I hope Fort Bragg can somehow pound the piss outta MC but it's unlikely they will. Why? As any sports fan can't help but know, the Catholic schools of the Bay Area, and Cardinal Newman here in the North Bay, recruit players, scouting potential prospects as young as the pee wee leagues.

PEOPLE who enjoy 100-0 ball games defend the professionalization of youth sports as found at the Catholic schools by saying things like, "Well, gee, all kids like to play for a winner. These kids come to us." I'm sure they do in lots of cases, but the result is huge annual imbalances wherever the Catholic schools are part of regular public school leagues, as Marin Catholic is in Marin County where the Papists mop up the local competition year after year. Fort Bragg will be at huge disadvantage this Saturday when they play Marin Catholic at MC's home field in Kentfield, but every real sports fan will be pulling for the Mendo boys to pull it out.

GOOD NEWS FROM NAPA. A grapevine virus discovered by Italian researchers in 2012 has been found in Napa. The grapevine Pinot Gris virus (GPGV) has been linked to disease in Pinot Gris/Grigio in Italy since 2003. Virus testing done on 96 randomly chosen grapevine samples the lab already had for testing tested positive for grapevine red blotch-associated virus. The lab doing the testing says seven vines were positive for GPGV including reds and whites, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay from three separate vineyards in Napa Valley. The detection apparently doesn’t mean the disease will materialize, or will even happen in the future, but other diseases will, which is what happens when you grow stuff with chemicals on top of chemicals.

A NEW ordinance has been enacted by Fort Bragg. The “Social Host Ordinance” means police officers can arrest or cite property owners, renters, leasees, or others responsible or knowing there’s alcohol drinking by minors on the property or premises. Those found responsible will have to pay back any costs and fees for public safety response. They could get $300 penalty for the first time, then $500 for a second offense, within 12 months of the first, and $750 for each additional violation after that.

ACCORDING TO COUNTY CEO CARMEL ANGELO, Mendocino County has $186,000 to spend on “community benefit” projects on a one-time basis. How they got to that number remains a mystery. (Other than they began with a mystery-$250k that was magically picked as available and subtracted $60k for a winter homeless shelter program in Ukiah and $4k for “Leadership Mendocino” — an oxymoronic term roughly comparable to Jumbo Shrimp because there is none. And “Leadership Mendocino” certainly doesn’t need $4k from the Supervisors to produce said none, nor do they deserve money first before other projects of much higher merit are considered.) Which, come to think of it, proves that there’s no leadership in Mendocino, a fact that doesn't cost anybody anything.

NO SOONER had the Supes announced the availability of the $186k than 63 applications came rushing in asking for over $1.3 million projects ranging from silly to useful in estimated amounts from $2k to over $116k each. The Supes were then given an opportunity to preside over the Begging Bowl Olympics, knowing that most of the applications would be turned down.

SUPERVISOR DAN GJERDE came up with his own suggestions for selecting the winners and losers: “Although some may disagree, I see the two projects funded off-the-top by the board as serving the entire county. To recap, they were: 1) $60,000 for Inland Winter Homeless Shelter, match for Winter of 2015-16 2) $4,000 for Leadership Mendocino, match for FY 2015-16. In addition, I’ve reviewed the list of 61 other projects and see that a very small number were intended to enhance services county-wide, and are not tied to serving a specific geographic location. With that as background, I’m suggesting the board allocate a small amount, just $6,000, to one of the handful of remaining county-wide projects. Taken together, this would result in the board allocating a grand total of $70,000 of the Community Benefit Fund to county-wide projects. Here is my recommendation: 3) $6,000 for Good Farm Fund, for one-time capital grants to low-income farmers of fruits and vegetables. That leaves $180,000 available for community-specific projects.”

GJERDE then suggested allowing each Supervisor to hand out $36,000 to their own districts. We're waiting with unbated breath for our supervisor to dispense 5th District largesse.

IF THERE WAS LEADERSHIP in Mendocino, the process would be inverted with applications first, then allocations to any and all that were truly merited, especially if they were small amounts of money and met the basic criteria of being seed money for beneficial, ongoing projects.

IF THERE WAS LEADERSHIP in Mendocino, the criteria for even submitting an application would exclude existing programs and County government agencies which have their own budgeting processes and would discourage money for “services” from existing government or non-profit employees (i.e., more money for them). This would exclude applications like the City of Willits’s request for $45k for a “feasibility study” of a rec district in the city. (Has anyone even seen a person on foot inside the city limits of Willits in the last fifty years?) And the Alex Rohrbaugh Center’s request for $45k for “programs and activities.” And the Mendocino AIDS/Viral Hepatitis Network’s request for $42k for “Addressing problematic alcohol and drug use, and increasing behavioral health services and medication adherence.” (It was dark and I was drunk and.....) And $5k for Healthy Mendocino to “Underwrite cost of designing and printing executive summary of the Community Health Needs Assessment final report and contribute to the cost of three meetings regarding the needs assessment.” (Whoever dared write this preposterous request ought to be waterboarded every three hours for at least a month.)

ON TUESDAY, the Board listened to advocates for the various applications for about three hours, then, after some silly disputes about how to allocate the money, agreed with Gjerde’s proposal to let each Supervisor allocate one-fifth of the $186k. Supervisor Hamburg agreed, claiming that the District Supervisors know their districts best, a dubious claim in Hamburg’s case. He knows the members of his cult, but unless you're in the cult the guy has never seen or heard from you and doesn't want to.

THE SUPES never did allocate any money, postponing the awards to the winners until after the individual Supes prepare their “short lists.” Each applicant was asked if they’d take partial awards and most of them said they would. (Natch.) You’d have trouble coming up with a clumsier way of handing out money if you tried. Why not have some fun with the handouts? Put them in hundred dollar bills in a big vat of lukewarm horseshit in front of the County Courthouse and charge admission to watch who dives in.

A STORY in the Press Democrat last week was called, “Winery critics, backers pack forum.” Among other things, the story says that the wine people wore t-shirts saying “Proud to support Sonoma County Agriculture.”

SHEPHERD BLISS RESPONDS to the story: "Wineries are not ag. They are industrial processing factories, and hence belong in urban areas and along the Highway 101 corridor. Grape growing is only a small, but important, part of the wine industry. I was at last night's meeting. I object to the t-shirt claim that the wine industry is 'sustainable.' This is propaganda. Sustainability requires a triple-E bottom line--economics, environmental, and equity. The wine industry is certainly economical, for the vintners and managers, but it is not equitable for the farm workers, most of whom are Latinos and permanent residents of Sonoma County. I did not see any brown faces in last night's large crowd. They are underpaid and poorly housed. In terms of helping the environment that we are all dependent upon, the wine industry systematically damages it. In 1992 I moved to the natural Redwood Empire and planted a vineyard, in which I grow berries. Wine grapes are not food; they are a luxury crop. During my time here the wine industry managed to re-brand our county as their commercial 'wine country.' Sonoma County has become the alcohol capital of California...." Etc.

WHILE WINE TASTINGS are common events, how about something new? At the Kelley House Museum’s Holiday Open House from 4 to 7 p.m. December 4 there will be a single malt Scotch Whiskey tasting. For a small donation visitors can imbibe great Scotch in a beautifully decorated Victorian home with tasty treats and live music. Fans of Scotch whiskey know there are flavors available as diverse as anything wine presents. A local connoisseur will pour samples and books and maps will show where that Scotch came from in Scotland. Seasonal decorations old and new will give the museum a festive appearance and this event is free for museum members. This is a great time to sign up for a membership and sip Scotch for free. Everyone over age 21 is invited to this Museum fundraising party to usher in the holidays. Call the Kelley House at 937-5791 for more information about the party.

MEANWHILE, IN THE HOME OF THE BRAVE, more than 20 governors have announced they will refuse to take in Syrian refugees following the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said he planned to refuse the relocation. “I will not place Alabamians at even the slightest possible risk of an attack on our people,” the cringing governor said in a pompously demagogic statement.

HOTEL PERPETUAL-NEGOTIATE. The fate of the Palace Hotel is still up in the air. A teleconference was held Monday between the visiting Judge and the attorneys for the City of Ukiah and the building owner, Eladia Laines. At issue is whether the building should be taken from Laines and put into receivership after years of wrangling over the building’s condition, which the city calls a nuisance. The judge says they should all consider mediation and had set Monday’s phone conference to discuss that, but nothing was decided. The Ukiah Daily Journal reports another teleconference was set for later this week. The judge also suggested since work’s been done to improve the building in the years since their legal complaint started, the City might want to amend their expectations if they want to prove the building really is a nuisance.

ANNA SHAW of Hospitality House is very good at demagoguing the homeless issue. Most secular helping pros have gotten good at it, and not to be too unfairly suspicious of Ms. Shaw and her colleagues as they empire build with an expanded Hospitality House at the Old Coast Hotel, she and her little helpers would be a lot more credible if they didn't invariably take a swipe at their critics as compassion-deficient. Anna Shaw is not working free for an order of nuns. She's well-paid. The issue remains: Is it wise to place a homeless center in the middle of your tourist town? No.

THE HOMELESS of Mendocino County are not people who got thrown out onto the streets because of merciless market forces. They are people who drank and drugged themselves into a state of permanent inhospitality, you might say. If a few of them can be helped, wonderful, but simply giving them meals and a shower, in most cases, keeps the homeless houseless. Factor in Mendocino County's expensive but laughably ineffective (or non-existent) privatized mental health "services," and what you have is a small group of Anna Shaws picking the bones of the damned for their last bits of monetized flesh.

SPEAKING OF MRS. SHAW, that was an interesting restraining order hearing in Ukiah last Friday afternoon. Jim Shaw, wife of Anna Shaw, boss of Fort Bragg's Hospitality House, wanted to prevent a man named Dana Jess from talking about an affair his wife allegedly had with a former Hospitality House client called Mitchell King. Dana says he will resist the order and that Mitchell will say that he did indeed enjoy a relationship with Mrs. Shaw. The judge agreed with Jess and refused to issue the order.

PATRICK PEKIN is a Fort Bragg attorney, fairly new to Mendocino County, who is running for a life sinecure as one of Mendocino County's 9 Superior Court judges — 9 judges for a population of 90,000 people, as we never tire of pointing out. Pekin has been quick out of blocks. He's already got a large roster of supporters, most of them charter members of Coast Lib: Lee Edmundson, Rachel Binah, Kendall Smith (Christ Jesus save us all!), the inevitable Jim Mastin who's working inland Mendo for the candidate, Steve Antler (natch), even former Judge James Luther, who lists himself as "retired." (These guys never retire. They pad their lush pensions by "working" as visiting judges. Ol' Nelson out of Hopland is pushing 90 and he's still out there hustling as a visiting judge. Luther's about 80, if he's a day.)

PEKIN will be opposed by Ukiah defense attorney Keith Faulder who, so far, has been slow to get going, and when he gets going he better spend a lot of time out in Fort Bragg and on down to Gualala if he hopes to beat back MendoLib, and they're as formidable a pack of political hyenas as any anywhere. They keep close tabs on all the elected offices, public bureaucracies and non-profits, aggressively and relentlessly working to install themselves and their friends into the high pay-low effort, marginal skill positions. Look for them to come our big for Hillary.

THE MENDOCINO COUNTY Association of Fire Districts is moving forward to pressure the Board of Supervisors to allocate a large chunk of the Prop 172 “public safety” sales tax revenue to the County’s 22 Fire Departments. Nut of the issue? The cops want all the money.

THE COAST HOSPITAL BOARD is considering a parcel tax to pull the fiscally ailing, community-owned hospital off life support. The tax would be in the range of $125-$195 per parcel. The nut of that prob? Too many people drawing too much money out of an entity that only has so much to give.

HEADLINE in today's Ukiah Daily Journal that had me fast asleep by the end of 'tours.' Assemblyman Jim Wood tours Ukiah High School In fact the mere mention of Wood, the other solon from Healdsburg, McGuire, and Huffman are, singularly, the human equivalent of chloroform. Together? Political death.

AN HONEST teacher might give the kids a real civics lesson in lieu of the tsunami of pure bullshit our nation's future gets thrown at them every school day. "Class, this is Jim Wood, a tax-paid wine gofer to Sacramento. He's here today to pretend he gives a shit about you and your sub-mediocre school. It's called a photo op. You girls keep an eye on the Assemblyman's hands. They tend to rove. Anyway, even if you hit him in the face with a sack full of his own bullshit he never stops smiling and his hair looks like it's been cemented to his head. On the off chance any of you ever wake up to understand who owns and runs this country you have zero chance of prospering in, this guy grinning at you here today, and all the elected people like him, is your blood enemy. On the lunch menu today we have catsup, grease nuggets, sugar water and, as a special treat, to recognize our multi-cultural heritage, a carrot from Guatemala."

CONGRESSMAN HUFFMAN was in Willits recently to discuss pie in the sky, er, broadband in Mendocino County. Our link to the great outside is, to say the least, precarious — four outages over the past 18 months, leaving large swathes of the County without 911, cellphones or internet. The Mendo Coast was de-coupled for 44-hours in August 2014 after a truck hit a line on the Comptche-Ukiah Road. Nothing came of the meeting, and decent broadband in areas not already hooked up remains a dream.

WALLY we hardly knew ye. Wally Clark, the sixth County librarian in 13 years, announced last week that he's taken an out-of-state job. County CEO Angelo says someone will be appointed as interim chief while Mendocino County launches it's usual "national search for excellence," a search that inevitably circles the globe before landing where it began — Ukiah, a hotbed of excellence.

SHOULD FORT BRAGG'S Old Coast Hotel be converted to a homeless center? If you came in real late, the second effort got 'er done — the measure will be on the June ballot. If passed, the town's municipal code would be amended to exclude social service organizations inside the Central Business District unless the organization was there before January 1st. The Fort Bragg City Council had previously and unanimously voted the measure down.

FORT BRAGG will be participating in the Climate Mobilization planned for the weekend of November 28th-29th, in advance of the climate meeting in Paris in December. The Paris demonstrations on November 29 and December 12 have been cancelled by the Paris authorities because of the recent attacks there, but the events and marches worldwide will go on as planned. Here on the coast there will be a climate event at the Bernie Sanders headquarters on Main Street for Saturday the 28th, as well as a showing the film "The Wisdom to Survive", in which Leaders and activists in science, economics and spirituality discuss ways to evolve amidst climate disruption. Saturday, November 28th, 2015. 2 pm

EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE it’s interesting to look at what the California Department of Justice statistics say about Mendocino County’s arrests and clearance rates. A “clearance” is, essentially, an arrest of a suspect. All police jurisdictions in the state have to report their felony crime and arrest stats to the Department of Justice. Unfortunately, as with everything else, Mendo officialdom doesn’t bother to regularly review any stats on any of their 20-some departments. That’s why it always comes as a surprise when something like a critical Grand Jury Report or some other crisis erupts and Mendo officials act surprised and defensive about whatever they’re forced to face.

AS WITH MANY THINGS at the California state level the crime stats are presented in a clumsy manner making it harder to draw any conclusions. For example in the accompanying charts they report “Clearances” and “Clearance Rates” but not the number of serious crimes that were subject to “clearance.” So when you see in the case of Humboldt County that they “cleared” 201 violent crimes in 2005 with a “clearance rate” of 51.02, we could calculate that there were 391 violent crimes and 201 arrests. (Or, perhaps somewhat cynically, the odds of getting away with a violent crime in Humboldt County are about 50-50.)

LOOKING AT Mendo’s crime and clearance rates and comparing them with Humboldt County, probably the most comparable neighboring county, Mendo actually looks a bit better.

MENDO REPORTED 305 violent crime arrests in 2014 with a clearance rate of 59.57. So 512 violent crimes and 305 arrests for a nearly 60% clearance rate. Whereas HumCo reported 485 with 206 arrests. Overall, Mendo’s clearance rate for violent crimes hovers around 60% over the ten year reporting period. HumCo runs lower, at below 50% over most of the ten-year reporting period.

PROPERTY CRIMES reflect a similar, if lower, overall trend. Mendo has around a 25% clearance rate on serious property crimes, and HumCo shows a much lower rate that seldom gets above 15%.

IT WOULD BE USEFUL for the Supes to put these kinds of stats — from all departments for that matter — onto a regular agenda and discuss what might be done to improve them. But…

AS IF THE CITY OF FORT BRAGG doesn't have enough trouble, what with no water and half the town upset over this issue and that, Fort Bragg is being sued by the totally bogus, so called California River Watch, an extortion outfit presided over by a stone crook called Jack Silver.

RIVER WATCH has all the accoutrements of a legit enviro do-good group with a bunch of Silver's friends functioning as his board of directors, a website, a mission statement, etc. Silver sues or threatens to sue municipalities of the NorthCoast for clean water work. And the glib attorney has done quite well for himself, less well for the environment. He went after Willits not that many years ago, emerging from that flurry of threats with fat legal fees for himself, and nothing for Willits that Willits wasn't already doing. And now he’s got his sights on Fort Bragg, the County of Mendocino, and Solid Waste of Willits. Years ago, local Congressman Mike Thompson promised to close the legal loophole that allows Silver to run his scam. Nothing was done. And here he is yet again. BACKGROUND:

THE COUNTY GRAND JURY blasted the County's Family and Children's Services (FCS) agency last year as "an embarrassment to the community" in a reported titled “Children at Risk.” Formerly known as Children's Protective Services, FCS has been understaffed for years, and when it was fully staffed, the agency, with unqualified and/or badly trained persons at the power levers, performed poorly, making decisions that not only didn't protect children, but in one case killed the child the agency had placed with a known dopehead. That dopehead, by the way, as confirmed by many other persons, was visibly in no condition to care for himself, but there he was with the doomed infant placed in his Fort Bragg home.

THE CHARGES against Family and Children's Services shouldn't fall on their fumbling heads alone. It's not as if Superior Court judge Cindy Mayfield hasn't known for years that the agency she works with every day isn't exactly a model of competent functioning. And we know that the Supervisors are aware that the dependent children of Mendocino County are at the mercy of, how shall I say this, limited persons. But the protective bureaucracy, from the judge on down, give themselves great big moist kisses on what wonderful jobs they're doing defending the poor unfortunates from the massed evils of contemporary America. (Mendo recently had a smart, conscientious guy working his way up in the FCS bureaucracy. Of course they fired him when he rightly refused to sign off on a dubious custody case and, into the bargain, claimed they were afraid of him. cf James Marmon.)

COUPLA quick anecdotes from my experience with Mendo CPS, as it was then called. Stop me if you've heard this one before, but years later I'm still furious about it. An Arab man, a Syrian as it happens, is married to an Indonesian woman. He is fluent in English, she knew no English. Female child born to them in Saudi Arabia. Husband deserts his other Saudi wife and runs off with his Indonesian wife and two Saudi children to America where they land, of all places, in Albion on the Mendocino Coast.

DAD soon runs off with the 300-pound Coast reporter for the Press Democrat. (Take whatever time you need to absorb that sentence before reading on.) Of course this all happens in Mendocino County. Where else could it happen? Mother is left with her infant daughter in Albion, the strangest place possible in a very strange land.

MOTHER AND DAUGHTER seek succor with a feminist group in Fort Bragg. The fems, unable to communicate with the mother, wisely buy her a bus ticket for San Francisco and a referral to the Asian Women's Shelter in The City. Meanwhile, the father decides he wants custody of his infant daughter. He calls the Sheriff and says his wife has not only rented his daughter to the Satanists then rampaging up and down the Mendocino Coast (another only in Mendo saga), she has carried the child off to San Francisco, sin headquarters of the Western World.

WHEN THE GREYHOUND pulls into The City two San Francisco policemen have to wrestle the screaming child from the arms of her hysterical and uncomprehending mother. (Those two cops were so outraged at having to do this on what turned out to be false pretenses, they followed the case and, much later, traveled to Ukiah at their own expense to testify against the father. I've given cops the benefit of the doubt ever since.) But Mom is arrested for child abduction.

MOM is in jail for several weeks in the SF Jail where prostitutes scream at her to stop crying. She is finally sent back to Mendocino County where she is placed in our more benign County Jail. No one can communicate with her. After a month, it occurs to someone, “I mean like duh isn't the Boonville newspaper guy's wife some kind of Asian?” Yes, the kind of Asian that speaks Malay and five other dialects including one of Chinese. The Indonesian woman and her Boonville translator finally make it clear to the Mendo authorities what has happened.

BUT IT TAKES MOM another 18 months to get full custody of her daughter. Meanwhile, the father has maxed out his Satanist Child Abuse gambit, but he is able to convince the cretins at Mendo CPS that his former wife is a pervert, and a mercenary pervert at that, what with renting her daughter to the Satanists and all. (About here, intelligent, rational authority would lock up the father, but this being Mendocino County where authority is traditionally a crap shoot....)

THE CHILD is bounced around eight different foster homes and, at the insistence of her deranged father, forced to undergo frequent pelvic exams to make sure she hasn't been violated. Natch, the County's social workers take the crazy father's word for the serial slanders he aims at his bewildered Indonesian wife. While all this is wending its way through our slo mo courts, with the obviously crazy father being taken seriously every step of the way, and a revolving bunch of underemployed, marginally capable Ukiah lawyers assigned to represent the mother, Mom finally gets supervised visitation rights.

WHEN the mother finally obtained full custody and was living and working in Ukiah, with her second grade daughter in Frank Zeek School, Mom arrived after school to pick up her little girl only to be told that CPS had again, without a warrant or any other legal pretext, taken the child because her lunatic father was claiming she'd been molested.

ABOUT THIS TIME, a social worker named Ms. Korn, former wife of Louis 'Creeping Jesus' Korn, casually informed me that child abuse is "quite common in Indonesia" (!) Of course no one in the entire CPS apparatus, from the judge to the imbeciles functioning as social workers, knew Indonesia from Indianapolis.

PURE RACISM fueled this entire depressing series of events and it goes without saying that most of the functionaries involved, from the judges on down, fancied themselves liberals, nay progressives.

WHEN THE FATHER knew he'd lost his bogus custody case, he and his girlfriend, the former Press Democrat reporter, now weighing in at about 450 and totally togged out, head to toe, in the full Bedouin tent worn by today's female suicide bombers, abducted the child and ran off.

ABOUT A YEAR LATER, the FBI tracked them to a Midwestern motel where they were arrested. The child was re-united with her mother and went on to become an honors graduate of the University of Oregon and a mother herself, no thanks to Mendocino County. Mom eventually married a nice man and has lived happily ever after with him. The crazy father, predictably, got off light in the Mendo courts, spending a few months in the Mendocino County Jail. Last we heard, he was lecturing on Islam in Hawaii and was on his eighth or ninth wife. The Press Democrat reporter, the saddest of all sad sacks, died years ago.

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