- Telltale Bathroom
- Measure U
- Navarro Quake
- Basket News
- Bureaucratic Thicket
- Pot Ban
- Sonoma-cino Plan
- Mendo Non-profits
- Candidate Integrity
- Bern Tide
- Yesterday's Catch
- Easter Pardons
- Free Woman Blues
- Water Day
- Firewood Permits
FACEBOOK FRIENDS OF DR. PETER KEEGAN were startled to see seven photographs of a bathroom appear on his home page in early March of this year. In Facebook tradition, the photos he posted were automatically shared to the news feeds of a wide network of Keegan “friends,” ”friends of friends,” and others.
“Please explain! What am I missing?,” asked one of those friends in a Facebook comment.
Perhaps that friend did not realize that the photos show the bathroom in which his wife Susan Keegan’s body had been found in November 2010. The friend may not have understood that the vinyl tiles missing from the floor and the damaged sheetrock visible in some of the photos were signs of the police search for evidence, executed with a warrant several years ago. Beyond all that, the photos were generally unremarkable, except that the somewhat ragged-looking bathroom no longer appears to be used much — no towels, no toiletries, a window without covering.
Why did Dr. Keegan shoot those photos and then post them on Facebook? Did he make a bizarre error of some sort? Was it a taunt? Or perhaps it was a sign of something law enforcement often sees in unsolved crimes — the suspect returning to the scene, the suspect preoccupied with his deeds, the suspect reenacting the event, or boasting of it.
Dr. Keegan removed the photos from his Facebook page within a day, leaving behind only the creepy shadow of a troubled mind.
Edgar Allen Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart” might offer a hint of what’s going on. In that story, the narrator receives a visit from police after neighbors report hearing a shriek. The narrator greets them warmly, convinced that no evidence remains of his cunning crime, in which he killed “the old man who vexed me,” dismembered the corpse and buried it under the bedroom floor. The officers are soon persuaded that no crime has been committed, but they linger to engage in friendly chatter.
Meanwhile, a noise grows steadily under the floorboards, seemingly heard by the narrator alone. To mask the sound, he talks faster and more vehemently, paces about with a heavy stride, and frantically scrapes his chair over the growing din. The noise will not be silenced, yet the officers smile on.
The narrator’s agony intensifies. “I felt that I must scream or die! And now — again! — hark! Louder! Louder! Louder! Louder!”
Finally, he can take it no longer. “Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! Tear up the planks! Here, here! It is the beating of his hideous heart!”
Is Dr. Keegan hearing something grow louder and louder and louder? Fear not, Dr. Keegan. Others hear it, too.
* * *
THE WHOLE STORY:
WHY MEASURE U?
Initiative Measure U was started after the taxpayers and voters in the City of Fort Bragg watched City Council align with an out of town special interest group and Vote against:
- the signatures and grievances of over 1200 residents and voters
- the hundreds of people who attended the city council meetings and spoke against locating the Homeless Day Shelter at the Old Coast Hotel
- the best interests of small business and tourism
- letters from professionals and parents of mentally ill clients asking for a more private, accessible location for services that provides more housing
We saw City Hall ignore the voters and:
- Waive the parking requirements in the zoning ordinance in February of 2015
- Ignore the fact that the housing and the facility is not 100% accessible to people with disabilities
- Ignore the zoning requirement for a business on street frontage in the Old Coast Hotel
- Ignore proof of more appropriate locations for the Homeless Day Shelter and MORE housing
- Deny lead paint issues in the Coast Hotel which have recently been revealed
- Spend 1.2 Million Dollars to gain only 10 of the 40 beds needed to house our most needy
- Spend public money on a lawsuit to fight their constituents
- Try to stop U from voting on this zoning change
The supporters of U believe:
- Fort Bragg deserves a downtown that inspires opportunities for business and tourism
- Mental Health, Disabled and Social Service Clients deserve a private location that is accessible to the disabled and provides lead free housing
- The people who live in Fort Bragg do not want a Homeless Day Shelter in the Old Coast Hotel and the voters need to be heard and determine the direction of downtown
- Measure U restores the democratic process with the VOTE!
Measure U is a grassroots community effort sponsored by folks representing all political parties, all ethnicities and socio-economic classes who live, work and vote in Fort Bragg
The Proponents of Measure U who believe in Rational Zoning, Democracy and Quality of Care for our most vulnerable and needy!
FAIR FUNDING FOR FIRE & Medical Response
Fire and emergency first responder medical aid are critical elements for our communities. The future of local volunteer Fire Agencies and their ability to provide public safety services is in jeopardy. An alliance of the 22 agencies in Mendocino County has formed to represent their shared interests to the Board of Supervisors and public. This group (Mendocino County Association of Fire Districts) is composed of unpaid representatives from local agency Boards and is working together to halt and reverse the decline in local fire agency capabilities. Anderson Valley CSD is an active participant in MCAFD's efforts. Attached is an open letter to County residents. Our hope is that you will publish it in a public forum for your readers. We feel its a very important topic and message. Please let me know if you have questions, or need further information. Thank you for your consideration.
Ben MacMillan, Elk
Mendocino County Association of Fire Districts
ATTACHED: Mendocino County - 911 Emergency Fire Response
According to our State Constitution, “The protection of the public safety is the first responsibility of local government and local officials have an obligation to give priority to the provision of adequate public safety services.” Police and emergency Fire protection, including first responder medical aid, are the two most pressing public safety demands in Mendocino County. Yet since 1993, our Board of Supervisors has denied voter-approved funding to Fire agencies from Prop 172. The Board is negligent by failing to prioritize and provide for emergency Fire response. Repeated requests for financial assistance have been made by local Fire agencies, Fire Chiefs, Grand Jury recommendations, and outside consultant findings. All have all been ignored or denied for nearly 23 years.
While “Fire” conjures up visions of bright red trucks, hoses, flames, and firefighters in protective gear, Fire’s primary role is emergency medical. In 2015, 70% of Mendocino County’s emergency 911 “Fire” calls were EMT medical responses. To meet these demands, dollars are desperately needed for recruitment, training, equipment, insurance, facilities, and operating costs. Annual chicken barbecues can’t fill the fiscal voids. Lacking sufficient funding, our volunteer Fire agencies are beginning to fail. Significant areas of the County are now under-served, and increasingly complex requirements cannot be met. Issues resulting from funding shortages have compounded over the years and must be addressed to protect the public from further risk. Insurance companies have taken note, raised premiums and denied coverage. These hidden costs amplify the need for proper funding.
In late 2015, public and media focus on fire funding shortfalls caused the Board to create a sub-committee tasked with researching the 22 local Fire Agency’s needs and developing recommendations to address them. An initial public hearing on March 14, 2016, unveiled a suggested plan to reverse the policy of denial and allow for funding assistance. Recommended funding allocations, however, appear grossly inadequate to meet long-ignored shortfalls. Token assistance will not halt the atrophy that is occurring. It is crucial that the Board adopt a new policy of assistance and cooperation. It must then provide meaningful funding NOW to avoid the collapse of our Fire and emergency response groups. Additionally, the Board must recognize the immediate and urgent necessity to work with local Fire agencies to restore their viability and sustainability. Fire organizations must be given a seat at the table to enable communication of critical public safety awareness and needs to the Board. Fire must be given the priority it clearly deserves. Painful now? Yes. But what’s the price of the lives and property now in jeopardy? What will you do when no one responds to a 911 emergency Fire call?
The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to act on Fire agency policy and funding at their April 5, 2016 public meeting. Please become informed and learn more at www.fundmendofire.org. Lend your support and contact your County Supervisor to have your voice heard. Attend the meeting.
Ben MacMillan, Elk
on behalf of the
Mendocino County Association of Fire Districts.
2.2 TEMBLOR NEAR NAVARRO
The USGS reported a 2.2 magnitude earthquake @ 7:22 pm Thursday evening 14 miles northwest of Boonville (11 miles ESE of Navarro Head and just to the southwest of the town of Navarro, at Perry Gulch).
The minor shaker was 2.7 miles deep and there was one report of a person "feeling it" and that was from Philo - 4.3 miles east of the epicenter.
AMONG THE LEDE stories from the PD on Friday:
A STORY FROM FRIDAY'S NYT on a vineyard near Laytonville contained this paragraph:
"Mr. Bewley braved a tangled thicket of bureaucratic agencies, eventually planting 140 acres. The other 5,000-plus acres support cattle raised for organic meat and a most unusual timber project."
DOUBT IT. Not in Mendocino County. France, there would be a bureaucratic thicket to brave, not here, not if you're a winery or a vineyard. It's pretty much a bureaucratic free fire zone for grapes.
WILLITS CITY COUNCIL DIVIDED ON POT BAN
by Linda Williams
The Willits City Council medical marijuana regulation ad hoc committee comprised of Mayor Bruce Burton and Councilman Larry Stranske recommended a total ban on marijuana cultivation and other pot related businesses inside the Willits city limits. The recommendation came at Monday’s special meeting of the council.
Following extensive public comments and an opportunity for each member of the council to speak, no action was taken and no future date was set for any further action on either a ban or to discuss potential opportunities opened up by the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act.
The council did request City Attorney Jim Lance continue his efforts to streamline the processing of nuisance complaints, such as accumulated garbage, roosters, health hazards, shrubs, abandoned cars and nuisance pot grows, which have resulted in dragging out the nuisances and caused the city to levy significant liens on residents’ properties.
The city council met on March 21 in the special session, because some members were not available to meet on the regularly scheduled March 23 meeting date.
The ad hoc committee has been looking at potential revisions to the city’s medical marijuana ordinance for several months. The current ordinance already bans all businesses, such as marijuana testing facilities, dispensaries and delivery services within the city limits, and restricts marijuana cultivation for medical private use to secure indoor locations. The committee provided examples of ordinances from the cities of Merced and Petaluma to be considered.
The committee’s recommendation drew a large group to the council chambers, reacting to word of a potential ban.
Most of the crowd, and all but two of the 17 members of the public who spoke, were very supportive of expanding marijuana access within the city and throughout Mendocino County. Most who spoke were not city residents and many seemed unaware of the strict restrictions already in place within the city limits.
Since sales and cultivation of marijuana is a federal crime, the city council would be complicit in a crime if they licensed marijuana facilities, according to Burton. He also wanted for Willits to be seen as the one place in the Emerald Triangle not endorsing marijuana.
District Attorney David Eyster disagreed with Burton on the federal enforcement of marijuana laws, citing the funding riders Congress has used in recent years to restrict the U.S. Department of Justice from overriding state marijuana regulatory activity.
Eyster said that after Governor Jerry Brown signed the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act last year, Brown sent a letter to the Department of Justice advising that the state would be regulating medical marijuana within California.
Burton remained unconvinced.
While Stranske and Burton were steadfast against any and all marijuana activity within the city limits, the other city council members did not share this view.
Councilwomen Madge Strong and Holly Madrigal were unwilling to consider further restrictions to patients and caregivers being able to grow their own marijuana and were hoping to consider newly regulated cannabis businesses such as testing facilities or dispensaries. Strong would even consider allowing some cultivation outdoors for personal use, as long as it could be done without negatively impacting neighbors.
Councilman Ron Orenstein agreed with Stranske and Burton on the corrosive impact of marijuana on the Willits community. Despite this perspective, he says he is willing to consider using the state marijuana regulations to allow the city to reap taxes from some future marijuana businesses and fund more enforcement personnel. He also said he was worried any ban approved by this council had the potential to be changed by a future council.
Stranske reaffirmed his views on the negative impact marijuana has had on the Willits community based on his observations from 35 years of teaching in local schools. He spoke of seeing bright students turned into drones by their junior year through marijuana use. Stranske said that marijuana is downgrading the community. He also reminded the audience he has two more years remaining on his term and that he will probably choose to run for another term.
(Courtesy, the Willits News)
THE FIVE YEAR PLAN
Mendocino and Sonoma Counties Call for Input on First Joint Five-Year Economic Development Plan
Launch Community Survey and New Website Today
Santa Rosa, CA and Ukiah, CA — March 23, 2016 — The Sonoma-Mendocino Economic Development District (EDD), created through a joint powers agreement between Sonoma County and Mendocino County in January 2015, today launched a new website (www.sonomamendocinoceds.com) and community survey to mark the public engagement phase of a joint effort for promoting regional economic development. The effort culminates in the publication of a five-year plan called a comprehensive economic development strategy, or CEDS, expected this fall. The Sonoma-Mendocino EDD invites all community members to share their views on the region’s economy by taking the short online survey.
“We really want to hear from members of our communities — that includes businesses and residents — and consider their input essential for this strategy to accomplish the goals it sets,” said John Kuhry, a member of the Sonoma-Mendocino EDD Board. “Their input not only tells us what economic opportunities and challenges we share, or what reinforcing and offsetting strengths and weaknesses we may have, it also helps us devote scarce resources to the issues that matter most to the people who call this region home.”
Survey results, along with input gathered from interviews and public forums planned for late spring, will shape the CEDS. When the public engagement phase concludes, the Sonoma-Mendocino EDD will oversee development of a draft plan they will then submit for public comment in late summer. Following publication of the final CEDS, the Sonoma-Mendocino EDD intends to apply for designation and funding under the partnership planning program of the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
“Leaders in both of our counties recognize an important opportunity to coordinate and pool resources in areas where we can do more for our region’s growth and development working together,” said Pam Chanter, member of the Sonoma-Mendocino EDD Board. “By developing a joint CEDS, we can solve problems that demand resources and cooperation from both counties and address common economic challenges and opportunities.”
Throughout the CEDS development process, community members can visit www.sonomamendocinoceds.com to follow its progress. There, they can read about key developments, events and opportunities for input or explore the region’s economy through an interactive map. They can also find related documents, reports and presentations or directly contact the Sonoma-Mendocino EDD with questions or comments.
The Sonoma-Mendocino EDD Board of Directors, comprised by business and civic leaders from both counties, will guide the process and approve the final CEDS. Board members include:
- Robin Bartholow, North Coast Builders Exchange (Sonoma)
- Pam Chanter, VANTREO Insurance Brokerage (Sonoma)
- Steve Herron, Exchange Bank (Sonoma)
- John Kuhry, Economic Development & Financing Corporation (Mendocino)
- Mike Nicholls, North Bay North Coast Broadband Consortium (Sonoma)
- Robert Pinoli, Skunk Train (Mendocino)
- Trish Steel, Broadband Alliance of Mendocino County (Mendocino)
- Joe Webb, Foursight Wines (Mendocino)
The Board has hired Civic Analytics LLC, an economic research and consulting firm, to prepare the CEDS under its direction.
Any questions about the Sonoma-Mendocino Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy can be directed to Steve Dunnicliff in Mendocino County (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Steve Sharpe in Sonoma County (Steve.Sharpe@sonoma-county.org).
Steve Sharpe, Economic Development Board, County of Sonoma, Contact Us, Website, Phone: (707) 565-7170, CA Relay: 711, Fax: (707) 565-7231, 141 Stony Circle, Suite 110, Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Steve Dunnicliff, Planning and Building Services, The County of Mendocino, Contact Us, Website, Phone: (707) 234-6650, Fax: (707) 463-5709, 860 North Bush Street, Ukiah, California 95482
BLIND LEADING THE BLIND
NONPROFITS IN MENDOCINO COUNTY
by Scott M. Peterson
THE NUMBER is 686. That’s how many registered nonprofits we have in Mendocino County today. One for every 127 people. As opposed to 2,975 in Sonoma County. One for every 166 people. All of theirs report revenue. All but six show assets. Where poverty is eleven percent. With all the nonprofits here, we should be doing better. But we’re not. 385 of our nonprofits — over half — report no revenue and no assets. Our economy isn’t doing so hot either. The poverty level here is nineteen percent.
MARIN COUNTY has 2,372 nonprofits. All of them report revenue. All but six report assets. Just like Sonoma County. And a poverty level of nine percent. But everything goes south just north of the Mendocino County line. Where over half the nonprofits in Humboldt and Trinity counties are just as broke as ours.
THERE ARE 1.5 MILLION NONPROFITS in the United States today. Only twenty-five — that I could find — have written policies to hide tax returns from voting board members. Three of them are in Mendocino County. We’ll get to them later.
LOCAL NONPROFITS piqued my interest in 2013. After getting a forwarded email. About nonprofits needing ‘good by-laws.’ The word ‘good’ struck me. It was like being told that you need wet water. Stranger yet was the author of that email. It was one of the Nice People. A big shot in the local nonprofit scene. We’ll get to her later too.
MY MOTHER was a licensed tax preparer. A decent card player as well. Mom passed away in 2000. I’ve done my own taxes since then. So that was my starting point. Looking at tax returns of local nonprofits. Along with governing documents. At the Registry of Charitable Trusts. Online. On the hunt for ‘good by-laws’.
AT THE SAME TIME, a well-known nonprofit was in the news. It was the United States Navy Veterans Association. Raising $100 million for navy veterans. I wanted to see who ran that organization. And how it was all done.
WHAT I FOUND LOCALLY was no surprise. Right off the bat. There it was. A bad tax return. From the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation (MCHF). Back in 2009. Right after the crash. Nonprofit tax returns are normally signed by the tax preparer. This one wasn’t. Not only that, the balance sheet didn’t track. With the one for the year before. Or the year after. It was off by six figures. The most alarming thing was the cost of fundraising. For a volunteer event called Winesong! MCHF grossed a million dollars that year. But three-quarters of it was expensed. Making its Cost To Raise a Dollar (CTRD) $4.00. For every four dollars spent, only one dollar got raised.
THAT CLOUD had a silver lining. The tax return identified a company named Philanthropic Professionals, Inc. (PPI). Who’d raised money with a CTRD of twenty-five cents. For every dollar spent, four dollars got raised. But PPI was never hired again. So I tracked them down. And called them up. To find out what happened.
ACCORDING TO PPI, they’d been engaged by MCHF to raise a million dollars. On a flat fee for raising money from donors. And a percentage for grants. The amount raised on the 2008 tax return was $276,312. At a cost of $71,100. PPI said the income reported on the tax return was short. By half a million dollars. They told me that another half million came in through government grants. So I looked it up on the Tracking Accountability in Government Grants System (TAGGS) website. Sure enough, it had. PPI hadn’t been paid for it. But they left before the campaign was finished. I wanted to know why. The reason surprised me.
PAYMENT had nothing to do with it. Remember the email that started this? The author was in charge of MCHF back then. So there were problems. About ‘good by-laws’. And who they were good to. MCHF’s board of directors didn’t like PPI. All of whom were self-elected. Which was contrary to MCHF’s State endorsed by-laws. Where board members were supposed to be elected by a general membership. There was another hiccup. With MCHF’s stated purpose. On the State endorsed Articles of Incorporation from years worth of meeting minutes from its website. Revealing that MCHF’s board had never authorized that transaction.
MCDH’S ANNUAL WEAR AND TEAR is $2 million. On average, MCHF kicks in only $250,000. So by 2012, the shortfall had risen to $20 million. Pushing MCDH into bankruptcy. PPI couldn't reengage MCHF. So I volunteered as a collections agent on two local accounts. MCHF and the Frank R. Howard Foundation. Who’d also engaged PPI for grants.
SONOMA VALLEY had the same problem a few years ago. The Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation (SVHF) struggled with fundraising for years. Coming up with only a fraction of what was needed. Until Sonoma Valley Hospital (SVH) finally put their foot down. Prompting a mass resignation from SVHF’s board of directors. That all took place in July of 2012. The tax returns show what happened. Before that, SVHF swore its assets amounted to only $77,480. But afterward, the total turned out to be $3,962,973. And that was after kicking down another $9 million. The largest contribution that SVHF made before that time was around $250,000. Just like the situation here. Sonoma Valley Hospital used that windfall to build a new hospital wing.
THE HOWARD FOUNDATION was founded in 1966. To raise money for Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits. But twenty years later, Adventist Health bought the hospital. Making the Howard Foundation irrelevant. In 2007, Adventist was building a new hospital. So the Howard Foundation hired PPI to raise money for it. Four million dollars came in through one grant. All of which the Howard Foundation pocketed. And never paid PPI for it. Which is where I came in. To try and collect PPI’s grant fees. And maybe bring them back. But both MCHF and Howard balked at paying. So PPI pulled out of Mendocino County again. The Howard Foundation has no governing documents at the Registry of Charitable Trusts. No by-laws and no Articles of Incorporation. Which is weird. Because the Mendocino Art Center does. From way back in 1959. Howard has nothing on file there before 2010. When hospital construction was already underway.
THAT’S OKAY. The IRS keeps tabs on the Howard Foundation too. At the National Center for Charitable Statistics. All the way back to 2001. When its mission was ‘to provide building facilities, equipment and financial assistance to ensure medical services to the community.’ Which was partly true. Howard was Adventist’s landlord. Charging the hospital $150,000 in annual rent for 2001. And jacking it up every year. By 2014, it was over $900,000. By then, Howard had no mission at all. Except making itself a boatload of money. Increasing its non charitable assets from $2 million to $14 million in just thirteen years.
IN 2015 the Howard Foundation’s mission changed again as it moved into the property management business. With construction of a 16,000 square foot medical office building on a thirty-three acre parcel it owned. By then its mission was ‘to establish, promote and support programs that maintain, as well as improve, health care for the community of Willits and the entire Northern Mendocino County area.’ Thus accommodating the hospital’s departure into ‘building facilities’ of its own.
MEANWHILE, a fellow named Jim Miwa found out what’d happened here. Miwa is the State representative for all Community Development Block Grants in Northern California. All state and federal grant applications go through him. He was particularly alarmed at the situation with Winesong! And the four million dollars in grant money that Howard kept. Neither MCHF nor Howard have received any government grants since then.
ABOUT THAT TIME I started looking at the Mendocino Art Center (MAC). With the same routine. According to State records, the board of directors there is elected by a general membership. But just like MCHF, things have changed. The last State endorsed quorum was fourteen directors. That was in the 1960s. No current bylaws are on file at the Registry of Charitable Trusts. The ones appearing periodically on MAC'S website have no signature, and include a provision for self-dealing. The number of directors has shrunk to nine. Only seven of which are identified on the latest tax return. And net assets are half of what they were a decade ago. State filings swear that independent audits have been prepared, but none of them are available to the public. According to one current director, curious people shouldn't set foot on Art Center property. Because they might get hurt. In December, the Art Center’s executive director resigned. And the local grapevine says there’ll be no replacement.
MAC’S ORIGINAL MISSION was the ‘study’ of fine art. That was in 1959. By 2014, it’d become a full-blown ‘educational institution’. But after fifty years of existence, MAC still has no accreditation. And has yet to fund a single scholarship. Fifteen percent of MAC’s revenue comes from renting run-down apartments to self-proclaimed artists. And a firetrap to the local theatre company. Net assets are currently $426,864. Down significantly from $713,783 in 2002.
MEANWHILE, the story behind the U.S. Navy Veteran’s Association was unfolding. The man in charge was a colorful individual named Bobby Thompson. He was quite a force in Washington. Posing for photos with president George W. Bush, Karl Rove, John Boehner and John McCain. The very picture of respectability.
U.S. Navy Veterans Association Founder Bobby Thompson with President Bush.
THEN I MOVED ON to the Redwood Coast Seniors (RCS). With the same drill. RCS was founded in 1986. But no governing documents are on file at the Registry of Charitable Trusts. Tax returns there go back to 2010, but not before. All tax returns since are done in-house. By an accountant who won’t sign them. In 2013, there was a mass resignation on the board of directors. Six directors walked out after details of a closed-session board meeting were made public. Resulting in death threats to the former president. Since then, the board of directors has continued to shrink. Until December, the number of directors was nine. Now it’s four. By-laws are constantly updated to accommodate the ever-shrinking board. Board meetings are open to the public, but rarely attended. No independent audits are available. And the board of directors appears to have no interest in any future audit. Even for one that’s completely funded.
IRS records for Redwood Coast Seniors go back to 2003. With a purported mission. Including meals, transportation and daycare. But for no specified geography. And no particular age group. The State endorsed Articles of Incorporation show a different mission. Providing the same services from Hales Grove to Gualala and east to Comptche. Including employment services. To citizens aged fifty-five and older. By 2014, net assets were reported to be $456,670. Over $200,000 of which is reported to be publicly traded securities. Which yielded income of only $95 that year. According to an accountant named Janice Thomaides. With no license on file at the State Board of Accountancy.
FROM THERE I went to MRB Research (MRB). A nonprofit exposed by a near-million dollar Yurok embezzlement scandal in 2014. MRB was operated by husband-and-wife officers. Ron LeValley and Charlene McAllister. According to law enforcement, the embezzled money had been laundered through MRB. But none of it showed up in the tax returns. No governing documents are available at the Registry of Charitable Trusts. LeValley pled guilty to federal charges, and served a ten-month prison sentence. MRB’s president was a prestigious professor at Humboldt State University named Mark Colwell. Who had no idea what LeValley had done. MRB was dissolved in 2015. The money was never recovered.
MRB shared a post office box in Little River with another nonprofit named Pacific Seabird Group (PSG). In 2010, PSG received a $50,000 grant from the David & Lucille Packard Foundation. That money never showed up in PSG tax returns. The treasurer there was Ron LeValley. Like so many other nonprofits, PSG has no governing documents on file at the Registry of Charitable Trusts. After LeValley got busted, PSG relocated. First to Hawaii. And then to Alaska.
THEN I MOVED ON to Mendocino County Public Broadcasting (MCPB). Also known as KZYX. MCPB is one of the sixteen nonprofits in the country that hides tax returns from voting board members. To its credit, MCPB conducts independent audits every year and posts them on its website. However, MCPB has something called a ‘Community Advisory Board’ comprised of non-voting board members. Non-voting directors have been outlawed by the State since January 1, 2015. MCHF and the Mendocino Art Center also use non-voting advisory boards. It’s easy to see where MCPB got the idea for hiding tax returns. Another nonprofit, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens (MCBG) started that practice in 2008. Along with another secretive practice — hiding governing documents from the public. But like RCS, the number of directors on the board there has dropped below the minimum set by its own bylaws. Eleven directors are declared on the latest tax return. But only four are identified. Nonetheless, MCBG’s revenue has tripled over the last eight years. Coincidentally, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is the perpetual location of Winesong!
MY NEXT STOP was the one contract to the effect that it is. One director reportedly rents housing to MCHC clients, but it’s not disclosed on MCHC tax returns. The same housing is apparently paid for by MCHC. Which has become very unpopular. Particularly with Fort Bragg neighbors. As MCHC’s unlicensed staff struggles with an increasing caseload, the area is experiencing a crime wave. Amplified by the fact that at least one licensed therapist reportedly carries a handgun to deal with an increasingly violent clientele. Putting a crippled nonprofit in the crosshairs.
MCHC’S DRIFTING PURPOSE is obvious in IRS records. In 2001 it was ‘Providing housing and meals for the homeless.’ By 2013 it grew to include ‘basic shelter services’. A catchall phrase that transformed MCHC into a mental health provider. Under a standard document request, MCHC provided me with something that appears to be amended Articles of Incorporation from 2002. Including a stated mission for ‘programmatic services to those deemed to be in need.’ But no original Articles. And no program.
IT WAS THE DEEMING that bothered me. And who was doing it. MCHC bills itself as a ‘faith based’ organization. With bylaws prohibiting ‘sinful’ conduct. On and off the board. None of which appear at the Registry of Charitable Trusts.
SO I RETURNED to the story of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association. And Bobby Thompson. To see what was on file for them. I couldn’t find any bylaws. It was the same for Articles of Incorporation and tax returns. I couldn’t find any government filings at all. As it turns out, neither could the government. On December 16, 2013, Thompson was convicted on charges of theft, fraud and money laundering. In Ohio. Also for embezzling all the money he’d raised. And Bobby Thompson wasn’t his real name.
THE WORST PLACE IN CALIFORNIA is Sutter County. Where over sixty percent of nonprofits report no revenue or assets. And a poverty level of fifteen percent. Home to Ortner Management Group (OMG). A for-profit organization with nonprofit subsidiaries. All of them doing just fine. Reporting revenue and assets. By the millions. Much of it from Mendocino County.
WILLOW GLEN CARE CENTER (WGCC) is Sutter County’s fourth largest nonprofit. Its latest tax return reports transactions with five ‘interested persons’. OMG is at the top of that list. For $1 million plus. And Thomas Ortner is second. At $134,000 a year. Number five is a fellow named Jeff Payne. He’s Willow Glen’s Chief Operations Officer. At $137,000 a year. The bio on OMG’s website claims that Mr. Ortner was the recipient of a NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) award. But the people at NAMI have no record of it. At this writing, the OMG website is inexplicably down. Jeff Payne claims to hold a Masters Degree in business there. But according to the Department of Consumer Affairs, his only license was as a security guard. Something that got ‘denied’ in 2010.
AS MENDOCINO COAST HOSPITAL FOUNDATION snuck out of modernizing the local hospital, Willow Glen crept into providing adult mental health services. The mission on WGCC’s 1996 Articles of Incorporation was providing mental health services ‘to senior citizens.’ In 2001 the word ‘dementia’ was added. But by 2014, the mission had grown to include ‘other adults.’ And the word ‘dementia’ disappeared. It paid off too. Quintupling WGCC’s annual revenue to $8.1 million over that time period.
PRIORITIES INC. (PI) is Sutter County’s seventh largest nonprofit. Operated by Jeff Payne. For another $301,628 a year. Yeah, baby. PI reports only four voting board members. None of them independent. All of whom ‘delegate’ the review of PI’s tax return. To Mr. Payne. The tax returns are prepared by Melissa Callicott. OMG’s Chief Financial Officer. No Articles of Incorporation or bylaws are available at the Registry of Charitable Trusts.
PI’S STATED PURPOSE is a moving target. In 2002 it was ‘job coaching, preparation and placement for non-custodial parents who are delinquent on their child support.’ But by 2014, it was serving ‘adults with developmental disability and mental illness.’ That move paid off too. Elevating PI’s revenue nearly 1,000 percent to $2.1 million over twelve years.
INTEGRATED CARE MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS (ICMS) is Sutter County’s seventeenth largest nonprofit. Also operated by Jeff Payne. For an additional $25,500 a year. Bringing Mr. Payne’s total annual salary to nearly half a million dollars. ICMS reports four voting board members. One of which is Jeff Payne. Who just can’t seem to keep up with all the paperwork.
ICMS RUNS TWO LOCATIONS in Mendocino County. One in Ukiah and one in Fort Bragg. Also known as access centers. Where people in crisis can get help. For mental health problems. Before ICMS showed up, there were no delays. But afterward, patients waited months for assistance. Both locations are reportedly managed by a pistol-packing therapist, Dr. Todd Harris. Who micromanages a beaten-down staff. None of them licensed. Licensed people are few and far between. Most of them contractors. Few of which are aware that ICMS is a nonprofit, or who Jeff Payne is. A detailed Electronic Health Record (EHR) is maintained at ICMS. But according to the Kemper Report, it was kept away from government auditors.
ICMS started out serving adults with dementia too. That was its stated purpose in 2001. But by 2014 that word had been completely written out. With the phrase ‘mentally ill’ replacing it. That paid off too. Allowing ICMS to more than double its revenue.
AT THIS WRITING, ICMS is listed as ‘DELINQUENT’ at the Registry of Charitable Trusts. For failing to register with the State for six years running. What Jeff Payne lacks in record keeping, he makes up for in humor. Operating under funny acronyms like OMG (Oh-my-God) and ICMS (I-see-a-mess). Laughing himself all the way to the bank.
SPEAKING OF LAUGHTER — there’s a nonprofit called The Sustainability Fund at 5798 Ridgewood Road in Willits. You can find it at the Registry of Charitable Trusts. And the IRS as well. Reporting zero assets and revenue. For fourteen years running. A peek at Google Maps for that area shows what might be sustaining it. Which explains why nothing gets reported.
MANZANITA SERVICES is a local nonprofit that contracts with OMG. Much like MCHC does. Providing mental health services to the homeless. Without a license. Manzanita’s tax returns are prepared by a CPA in Redding named Wayne Brown. But the State Board of Accountancy reports no such licensee. Manzanita is operated by Carol Mordhorst and Susan Wynd Novotny. Neither of which appear to be licensed with the State Department of Consumer Affairs. The only paperwork I could find for Manzanita is a HIPAA license for Ms. Novotny. Classifying her not as a therapist. But as a ‘case manager/care coordinator.’ Another level of bureaucracy to milk the system. Which appears to have contributed to at least one death in Mendocino County.
‘PATIENT 10’ appears in a report by the Department of Health and Human Services. If true, he was a Navy veteran suffering from psychosis and alcoholism. Treated by a nurse practitioner at Manzanita who identified himself/herself to government auditors as a psychiatrist. ‘Patient 10’ was abandoned by Manzanita for several months, who billed MediCal for nonexistent services. Until he was found dead in his apartment. After that, his chart was ‘sequestered’ by Mordhorst and Novotny. ‘Patient 10’ could have been a fabrication. Yet another charade to empty public coffers.
ANNE SHAPIRO is a real fatality connected to OMG’s nonprofit network. A 32 year old, her body was found north of Fort Bragg on January 7. Ms. Shapiro suffered from bipolar disorder and severe depression. She’d left a ‘facility’ in Willits earlier that morning. Her death has been ruled ‘suspicious’ by local authorities.
THE FACILITY was Redwood Creek. Operated by Sutter County nonprofit WGCC. Shapiro was identified only as ‘client C1’ in a State inspection. The inspector arrived on January 8 to find two local policemen interviewing administrator Jennifer ‘Kelly’ Mannel. About ‘an incident’ that happened the day before. According to the Department of Consumer Affairs, Mannel is licensed only as a vocational nurse. Not a registered nurse. Meaning that she couldn’t give patients medications or treatments. Something that might have saved Anne Shapiro’s life.
STATE INSPECTORS paid another visit to Redwood Creek on March 2, 2016. Where they found a ‘House Manager’ named Alyson Blair running the place. Not then licensed for adult residential facilities. Only for elderly care. Or so the inspectors said. In 2014, Ms. Blair advertised a mental health lecture at MCHC. Billing herself as a ‘mental health first aid trainer.’ But with no license appearing at the Department of Consumer Affairs.
THE SOLE LICENSEE at Redwood Creek is a fellow named David J. Gilbert. An administrator who ‘frequently’ visits the place. According to Gilbert’s resume, he’s in Yuba City. With two California licenses. One for RCFE — Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly. And one for ARF — Adult Residential Facilities. According to the State inspectors. But neither license appears at the Department of Consumer Affairs. The only license showing for Mr. Gilbert there is as a security guard. One that got cancelled in 2010. The very same year that Jeff Payne’s license got denied.
REDWOOD CREEK is registered with CalQualityCare.org. As a sixteen bed facility. Owned by Willow Glen Care Center. A for-profit entity. Without a license. At Redwood Creek, patients are at ‘Serious or Immediate Risk’. With a HIPPA license registered to Willow Glen Care Center. Who’s got sixty beds. And a ‘Serious or Immediate Risk’ to patients.
CREEPIEST OF ALL is what took place at MCHC’s homeless shelter in Fort Bragg. For years it confiscated prescription medications from residents. And then redistributed them. Once a day. From an unlocked cabinet. Where substitutes could be made. Keeping detailed electronic records on every resident. Including Social Security numbers. With the assistance of unlicensed, minimum wage employees. Some of those residents were on psych meds. Prescriptions that stopped working. Suddenly.
HOMELESS SHELTERS are popular places for clinical testing. Particularly for psych meds. Most clinical tests are registered with the FDA. Some aren’t. But all clinical tests have one thing in common. Detailed electronic record keeping. And the use of placebos. Prescriptions that stop working. Suddenly.
BIG PHARMA has a burning need for new products. In 2012, patents expired on five brand name drugs. Two of them psych meds. One of them was Seroquel. An antipsychotic medication that accounted for forty percent of AstraZeneca’s revenue. Also linked to the suicide of Robin Williams. The other was Lexapro. An antidepressant responsible for more than half of Forest Laboratories’ earnings. And increased suicide risk. The only way out was developing new psych meds. With new clinical trials.
NONE OF MCHC’S RESIDENTS that I spoke with were aware of any clinical testing. And those detailed records never got to the authorities. But somehow an extra $95,239 managed to find its way into MCHC’s bank account. As a ‘contribution’ from OMG. Something that never got reported to the State. But I got a copy. Through a standard document request. For MCHC’s latest tax return. Furnished by Jerry Thomas. MCHC’s treasurer. The tax return that Mr. Thomas gave me was twenty-seven pages long. Six pages longer than the one at the Registry of Charitable Trusts. A simple trick that Mom taught me. Trust the dealer after you count the deck. The going rate for clinical test subjects is $4,000 a head. MCHC has twenty-four beds. Which multiplies out fairly close to OMG’s contribution. There’s no concrete proof that human experimentation ever took place at MCHC’s homeless shelter. But plenty of circumstantial evidence that it did.
ANOTHER MYSTERIOUS DONOR was the Kathleen Kohn Fetzer Family Foundation. For $10,000. Way out in Falls Church, Virginia. Which sounds prestigious. But isn't registered there. Or anywhere else. The closest thing I could find was a for-profit corporation similar to that name in Colorado. It went delinquent in 2010. But somehow the check cleared three years later.
KOHN FETZER spread plenty of joy around Mendocino County. Mostly in the media. It's managed by Kathleen Fetzer, who's claimed to be a financial planner. But she ain't certified. Not according to the Certified Financial Planning Board anyway. Fetzer is a brand associated with wine and roses around here. Unless you're looking at County courthouse records. Where the Fetzer name is connected to twenty-one criminal proceedings.
BOBBY THOMPSON’S PHOTOGRAPH can still be found on an FBI wanted poster. But under a different name. John Donald Cody. Along with thirteen aliases. He was an attorney on the run for robbing elderly female clients in Arizona back in 1987. Cody had graduated with honors from the University of Virginia and Harvard Law School. He was convicted on twenty-three separate charges and sentenced to 27 years in Federal prison. And ordered to pay $6.3 million in fines and investigative costs. Cody’s earliest possible release date is April 27, 2039. When he’ll be 91 years old.
NONE of the nonprofit operators in this report are licensed by the State of California. They don’t have to be. Which seems strange. Because barbers and beauticians need licenses. So do veterinarians. At the Department of Consumer Affairs. But not nonprofit operators. Lowering the risk. And raising the reward. For tax evasion. According to the Washington Post, it’s rampant in nonprofits. And has been for a decade. Starting a nonprofit is cheap too. As low as $49. And it can all be done online.
THE FAILURE of local nonprofits became apparent in the Kemper Report. After the County of Mendocino outsourced mental health services to two organizations. Ortner Management Group and Redwood Community Services. OMG is a for-profit entity that subcontracted the task to broken nonprofits. Including MCHC. Three years into the contract, Ortner gave up. Handing a $7 million a year contract to its competitor. A nonprofit in perfect health.
SPOTTING NONPROFIT WINNERS is easy. It’s all in the tax returns. Look at their expenses. And the voting members of their boards. Nine of the top ten revenue earners in Mendocino County have something in common. Legal expenses. One of them has a parliamentarian on the board. Who’s a lawyer. That’s Redwood Community Services.
REDWOOD COMMUNITY SERVICES (RCS) was founded in 1995. By annual revenue, it’s Mendocino County’s sixth largest nonprofit. Earning just over $11 million a year. Virtually all of it comes from government grants. RCS has $6 million in assets. Half of what the Howard Foundation holds. RCS employs 221 people. Howard employs only two. RCS has bylaws and Articles of Incorporation posted at the Registry of Charitable Trusts. All the nonprofits earning more than RCS report legal expenses.
NONPROFIT PROLIFERATION in Mendocino County is obvious. When I started this report in early March, there were only 677 of them. Today that number is . That’s only for registered nonprofits. A friend of mine told me about a neighbor who’d started their own foundation. To buy themselves a new car. All tax deductible. So I looked it up. It’s registered as a corporation. But not as a nonprofit. The agent for service of process is legalzoom.com. Advertised on television by cofounder Robert Shapiro. The attorney who got O.J. Simpson acquitted.
LEGALZOOM itself is open to question. According to thirteen law professors, it’s illegal. In 2008, the North Carolina State Bar published a cease and desist letter, informing the company that its services were ‘illegal in North Carolina and must end immediately.’ Three state bar associations followed. When it came to setting Legalzoom up, Shapiro went the other way. Registering his company with the Secretary of State as a for-profit corporation. According to Dun & Bradstreet, Legalzoom now grosses $5 - 10 million a year. In Los Angeles County. All of it taxable. Los Angeles County has 40,760 nonprofits. The smallest of them reporting over $7 million a year.
FAKE FOUNDATIONS are another can of worms. Nonprofits that identify themselves as foundations to attract donors. But operate at obscene CTRDs of $100. Like the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation. According to the Registry of Charitable Trusts, twenty-three entities representing themselves as foundations in Mendocino County are either delinquent or unregistered. Outnumbering the nineteen legitimate foundations here. Even real foundations can take a toll. Last year the Frank R. Howard Foundation raised more money than its eleven peers combined. But at a CTRD far greater than theirs. By several orders of magnitude. And much of the proceeds went to a related nonprofit. The Howard Community Healthcare Foundation. Which is another fake foundation. Worse yet is the amount of dead wood there. Fourteen of the fake foundations report no assets at all. Some of which have been around for decades.
THE TOP DOG in this category is The Community Foundation of Mendocino County (CFMC). With assets of $20+ million. And revenue topping $9 million. Filings with at the Registry of Charitable Trusts appear on the up-and-up. With one tiny exception. A letter from the Franchise Tax Board. Saying that CFMC is good-to-go as a corporation. But nothing about being a nonprofit. On request, CFMC provided me with its letter of exemption from the IRS. Clearly stating that it wasn’t a private foundation. That letter was dated February 6, 1998. So on July 1, 2001 CFMC amended its Articles of Incorporation. To change its name from ‘Mendocino County Community Foundation’ to ‘The Community Foundation of Mendocino County’ (emphasis added). What’s in a name? Plenty. CFMC was founded in 1993. But seven years later, its assets were only $699,718. After becoming The Community Foundation, they’ve grown a whopping $20,032,314.
THE TRULY BIZARRE is a special district that poses as a nonprofit. Mendocino County has only one of a kind there. It’s the Mendocino Coast Health Care District (MCHCD). Also known as Mendocino Coast District Hospital. According to the IRS, it registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2010. But never filed a tax return. No records are on file at the Registry of Charitable Trusts. Nor with the Secretary of State. The only place that MCHCD appears is at the TAGGS website. Where it’d pocketed $558,707 in grant money in 2008 and 2009. Thanks to grants written by PPI.
STRANGER STILL is what happened to that money. According to an audit for that time period, MCHCD never got it. It’s possible that the auditor missed it. Particularly in light of who the auditor was — TCA Partners. The same accounting firm that got its license revoked for doing bad audits. And for the exact same time period. TCA had been doing audits for the hospital since 2004. When Charlene McAllister was president of the board. McAllister resigned during a Grand Jury investigation in 2006. And joined the Hospital Foundation’s board immediately thereafter. Which is precisely when TCA audits appeared for MCHF. Including the one with the $250,000 addition error.
MCALLISTER served on a board of directors with me once. For about two years. I was the majority stockholder and president at Mendocino Game Company. A for-profit corporation. It produced a board game I invented. Called Pirateer. Charlene was a minority stockholder. With unique views on what her role as a director was. She definitely wanted to run the show. Without licensed attorneys. Or licensed accountants either. She wanted an advisory board. I disagreed. So did my licensed attorney. And my licensed accountant. So she quit. But not before doing considerable damage. By fueling speculation that six-figures in corporate money was unaccounted for. And that I was somehow unfit to lead the company. Quietly. But not quietly enough. I took her to court for that later. Over meddling. I prevailed. For a settlement that we both agreed would be confidential. She paid up too. In 2009. Right before MCHF’s bad tax return turned up. The one with Charlene’s signature. And the six figure tracking error.
ADVISORY BOARDS aren’t all bad. They’re usually made up of high profile people. Wealthy and influential. Who know little about the board they’re on. Here it was coastal hoi polloi. Identified not on tax returns. Like voting board members are. But on brochures, mailers and websites. These elusive entities have no leaders. They’ve got instigators instead. People who function as messengers. On behalf of fabricated experts. Like licensed attorneys. And licensed accountants. These instigators will ‘pull’ meetings together. Not as board of directors meetings. And not as advisory board meetings either. But then later identify them as advisory boards. After the fact. These meddlers will then leverage the purported opinions of advisory boards to influence actual opinions of the voting board members. Particularly to keep key people away. Like licensed attorneys and licensed accountants.
YOU CAN SEE how this played out for MCHF. In third-party online record archives. Where four MCHF advisory board members are named on a 2013 board meeting minutes. Where none of those people are identified as present. After they were identified in one of my online video cartoons, MCHF purged their names from its website. Leaving only Charlene McAllister as the chairman. Further obscuring who was — or wasn’t on the advisory board. The absence of licensed attorneys is evident on its tax returns. With no legal expenses in twelve years of filings. The closest that MCHF got to having a licensed attorney around was in 2005, when Jim Rainie joined the board. But by August of 2008, Rainie was gone. Replaced by Charlene McAllister. Who’s been there ever since. It’s the same with licensed accountants. In November of 2009, MCHF’s first bad tax return showed up. Prepared — apparently — by a licensed accountant. But without a signature. It was the same for six years worth of independent audits. All of them without signatures. Beginning in June of 2008. Accompanied by tax returns for the same years. Swearing that independent audits hadn't been done.
THE FOUNDATION’S NEWEST advisory board member is a former employee. That’s Jeri Erickson. Who’s signed every MCHF tax return since 2009. Including the most recent. Where tax returns are hidden from voting board members. Erickson’s resume claims grant writing experience. As do the resumes for 2015 president Susan Warner and secretary Charlene McAllister. But the Fort Bragg hospital’s 2012 bankruptcy speaks volumes for their effectiveness. Erickson and MCHF’s current president — Steve Lund — both work for a company called A+ Events. According to that website, it only does business with ‘educational organizations.’ Which MCHF technically qualifies for. At least according to its IRS classification. It certainly could account for MCHF’s infatuation with events like Winesong!
ERICKSON has also moved on to a position with Leadership Mendocino (LM). As a Steering Committee Member. Supposedly. LM is a component of North Coast Opportunities (NCO). Another nonprofit reporting zero expenses for attorneys or accountants. In thirteen years of operation. At $12+ million in annual revenue, it’s hard to imagine operating without them. Especially since it reports having audited financial statements. NCO doesn’t hide tax returns. Not outright anyway. But it does obscure them. With the following written policy: ‘The audit firm prepares the tax return and upper management reviews and makes any necessary corrections before it is filed’ (emphasis added). Giving ‘upper management’ the upper hand. Over voting board members. This policy has been in place since 2008.
LEADERSHIP MENDOCINO goes unreported on all NCO tax returns. Ditto for any steering committees. There’s only one record for LM on file at the Registry of Charitable Trusts. Which is an expired raffle from 2006. And nothing on file with the California Secretary of State. Or the IRS. But that doesn’t keep it from receiving grants. It got one for $25,000 in 2008 from the S.H. Colwell Foundation. And another one for $5,000 from the PG&E Foundation in 2014. If anything, LM appears to be somewhat of a vagabond. Surfacing recently in a press release from the Arts Council of Mendocino (ACM) as a 10-month program. ACM is yet another local nonprofit reporting zero expenses for attorneys or accountants. Yet has scored $671,856 in public support over the past five years.
ACM’S BIG FEAT was offering a class on Running a Successful Nonprofit Organization. The instructor was Catherine Marshall. Whose claim to fame was serving as CEO of something called CAMEO for ten years. Which was easily traceable to her online resume. And then to the Registry of Charitable Trusts. Where CAMEO is currently listed as delinquent. In the twelve tax returns that I looked through, there were none reporting legal expenses. In spite of taking in over $3.3 million in public support over the period from 2007 through 2011. Ironically, Marshall’s class offered instruction on legal issues. Which is hard to imagine. Since she has no accreditation on file with the State Bar of California. It’s worth noting that Marshall advertised her class at the Mendocino College Coastal Campus. And that students could sign up by telephone at (707) 962-2664. But that phone number doesn’t work. Because it’s a leftover from College of the Redwoods. An operation that got mothballed in 2014. Related to accreditation issues.
REGULATION is nonexistent with nonprofits. According to the Washington Post, they get robbed all the time. And never pursue the perps. Between 2008 and 2012, over half a billion dollars was admittedly missing from nonprofits. Nonprofit leaders don’t pursue embezzlement complaints over fears of negative publicity. And the impact on their bottom line. So charges are never filed. The California Department of Justice is hamstrung by sheer numbers. At this writing, there are 162,089 registered nonprofits in the Golden State. And Sacramento is a long, long way from Mendocino County. The dissolution at MRB Research was voluntary. It only happened after LeValley was convicted. Who was initially charged in Del Norte County. Federal officials aren’t inclined to help either. Leaving a place famous for criminal enterprise to stew in its own juices.
STATE PROSECUTIONS are few and far between. The last one I could find appears on the State website. Against a nonprofit called Cars 4 Causes (C4C). In Ventura County. Where there are 3,323 nonprofits. All of which report revenue. Only five report no assets. According to the Registry of Charitable Trusts, C4C reported assets of less than $1 million in 2014. But according to the Department of Justice, it had taken in over $90 million. Distributing most of it to themselves, family and friends. This was one of only three actions filed in 2015. All of them in Southern California. In counties with healthy nonprofits.
KZYX AND THE BOTANICAL GARDENS are two Mendocino County nonprofits that hide tax returns from voting board members. What’s the third? It’s the Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation. With a skanky advisory board chaired by Charlene McAllister. And who’s the big shot that suggested ‘good by-laws’? Once again. It was Charlene McAllister.
OUR SITUATION is no secret. Grant makers outside of Mendocino County have known it for years. Ever since the Packard Foundation got burned back in 2010. Word is out — to avoid Mendocino County nonprofits. You can see evidence of that in the tax returns. I did. You can also see it in the failure of vital institutions. Like our hospitals. And our mental health system. Who relied on those nonprofits. And were gravely disappointed.
THE PROBLEM — to be blunt — is identity theft. On a massive scale. What does a nonprofit have aside from its identity? Nothing. What does an unscrupulous operator have to gain from taking that identity? Everything. So it happens a lot. Particularly in the Emerald Triangle. For some strange reason. Banks completely enable nonprofit identity theft. The only requirement for Savings Bank of Mendocino County is two signatures. One for Bonnie. And one for Clyde.
THE SOLUTION is twofold. First, nonprofit operators should be licensed by the State of California. Including any person in a nonprofit authorized to sign — or cash — a check. Licenses should only be authorized by a vote from the nonprofit’s board. On a resolution that’s certified, filed and endorsed at the Registry of Charitable Trusts.
TO QUALIFY for licenses, each nonprofit should be required to furnish the Registry of Charitable Trusts with a simple pedigree. Documenting the election of any of its nonprofit operators. From startup to present. Including minutes for each election. Signed and certified by the nonprofit’s secretary. On the date of the election. Under penalty of perjury. If such crucial records can’t be found, those absent-minded nonprofits should be invited to re-apply. Under different names. Forfeiting their ill-gotten gains to other nonprofits. With better record keeping. The same should apply to bylaws and amendments.
GETTING a license should require passing a test. Administered by the California Department of Consumer Affairs. By a specialized board. Once they pass, licensees would be listed at the State website. Like barbers, beauticians and veterinarians. For the whole world to see. Including banks, title companies and post offices. Connecting each license holder with their authorizing nonprofit. Making it a lot more difficult for folks like ‘Bobby Thompson’ to take advantage of a nonprofit. At least in California.
SECOND, local governments should be granted the authority to dissolve failed nonprofits. The Mendocino Coast Hospital Foundation is a prime example. A colossal failure that drove the Fort Bragg hospital into bankruptcy. Which is also a nonprofit. In a dissolution, all assets are automatically transferred to another nonprofit. Like the Fort Bragg hospital. Which would then be motivated to get its own house in order. Or else get dissolved.
COUNTY MENTAL HEALTH would benefit mightily from such a dissolution. The Howard Foundation has the perfect property — a vacant hospital in Willits. And with Adventist gone, its original mission is vacated as well. In a dissolution — voluntary or not — title could pass to Redwood Community Services. A nonprofit that best serves Howard’s original mission. But nothing is easy. Or cheap. Especially a contested dissolution. In this case, nonprofit prosecutions by Mendocino County should be eligible for reimbursement by State and Federal grant programs.
NONPROFITS would benefit too. Just do the math. California early has 150,000 nonprofits. Ten percent of the 1.5 million in the United States. So that’s ten million dollars that Golden State nonprofits lose every year. To unscrupulous operators. Tax free.
NONPROFITS WITHOUT Articles of Incorporation or bylaws on file at the Registry of Charitable Trusts might could be granted amnesty for a brief time period. To either get compliant. Or to get lost. This should bring prudence back into the picture. Along with licensed attorneys. And licensed accountants. Putting noncompliant advisory boards out of business. Once and for all.
LEGISLATION is completely doable. AB 2755 is the bill that outlawed nonprofit advisory boards. It was introduced by Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra. Sponsored by licensed attorneys at the California State Bar. Who were understandably miffed at their jackleg competitors. AB 2755 passed in the California Senate on August 28, 2014. Unanimously. So it’s hard to imagine why anyone would oppose requiring State licensing for nonprofit operators. Or local control over nonprofits. Least of all the licensed attorneys. All of whom would benefit.
INCENTIVES for compliance would be strongest for legitimate nonprofits. And the weakest for the scams. Attrition would be immediate. Half of local nonprofits would dry up. Noncompliant ones without assets could be suspended along with all of their licensees. End of problem. Dissolutions with assets would be distributed to legitimate nonprofits. Providing a welcome jumpstart for those who play by the rules.
THE UPSIDE would be seen in two years. Particularly in the form of large grants. Like ones from Jim Miwa. Or the David & Lucile Packard Foundation. And not a moment too soon. SB 1953 mandates a new hospital in Fort Bragg by 2030. That’ll run fifty million dollars at least. And another thirty million to fund the current wear-and-tear. Certainly by the time it gets raised. Other big projects are on the horizon. If the current trend continues, many of those will be operated by nonprofits. And hopefully, they’ll be legitimate. But I know one thing. If nonprofit reform happens, it’ll give the phrase ‘good by-laws’ real meaning.
SKEPTICS OUT THERE might want more info. About the other twenty-two nonprofits. The ones with written policies to hide tax returns from voting directors. And what happened to the organizations. As well as the policies. Me too. So I looked ‘em all up. Two only started that last year. So they were excluded. Of the remaining twenty, only three thought that policy was worth keeping. The others dropped it like a hot rock. Because it was stupid. Pushed onto them by behind-the-scenes operators. With carefully crafted vocabulary. And traces of it left behind. Like fingerprints.
AMONG THAT SPOOR is an particular description. Called a ‘board member.’ Not director or trustee. But a board member. You won’t find that description at the Registry of Charitable Trusts. Or the IRS. But you’ll sure find it here. Where fact and fantasy become one. To dislodge licensed attorneys. It’s the same with the word ‘financials.’ You might want to write that one down. Financials. Something to push licensed accountants under the bus. Along with balance sheets and operating statements. In favor of projections and financial plans. The scoundrels who launch that vocabulary are careful enough to fire and forget. Leaving well-meaning — but gullible — nonprofits to pick up the tab. And taxpayers.
ON A CLOSING NOTE. A few weeks ago I was interviewing a source for this report. A clinician who’d worked at ICMS. I asked if they’d ever considered the ‘I-see-a-mess’ play on words. The response was total shock. It’d never crossed their mind. Then I thought about the phrase that started my quest. But this time as a farewell. Goodbye laws. Hah!
Scott M. Peterson
PS: You can see more nonprofit nonsense at my weekly video comic strip, Mendopia.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Remember when they said Bernie’s campaign was “over” in New Hampshire? Ha ha ha. Bernie just scored two more victories … big ones, this time in Utah and Idaho.
Here’s why this matters: Bernie walked away from the three states that voted yesterday with a majority of the delegates. That’s huge. That’s how we of Bernie’s campaign will win the nomination for Bernie.
We always knew last Tuesday was the high water mark for the Clinton campaign. Now it’s our turn to start winning large majorities in many of the remaining states until we take the pledged delegate lead on June 7…. then the super delegates will start flipping over to support Bernie because Bernie is the most electable.
Now we all need to start thinking about what’s next: the 142 delegates at stake in Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii this Saturday.
The news media continues to ignore Bernie, so you probably did not hear about another victory for Bernie: the Democtats Abroad, a big deal in which Bernie received the majority.
Democrats Abroad Results — March 21, 2016
Sanders: 69% (nine delegates) Clinton: 31% (four delegates)
Here’s why this result is important: we netted more delegates from the Democrats Abroad voting than Hillary Clinton netted with her narrow victories in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Missouri combined.
That means Bernie is closing the gap with each contest, catching up in the delegate count until he has the majority of pledged delegates on June 7 and goes on to win the nomination at the convention.
“They” declared Bernie’s campaign dead prematurely. New Hampshire was prelude…
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 25, 2016
DANIEL BRUMLOW, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
DARRELL CARADINE, Fort Bragg. Resisting.
KYLE FIELD, Covelo/Ukiah. DUI, evasion.
JACOB GARCIA, Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation.
JOSHUA GUEVARA, Ukiah. Paraphernalia, probation revocation.
LUIS MUNOZ, Calpella. Domestic battery, child endangerment.
TIMOTHY NAVARRO, Lakeport/Ukiah. DUI, dirk-dagger.
DAVID PIOMBO, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
DANNY RAY, Fresno/Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation.
PAUL YOAKUM, Westport. DUI, suspended license, probation revocation.
MAYRA ZAMORANO, Ukiah. DUI.
BROWN’S EASTER PARDONS
by Jeremy White
Continuing his tradition of announcing leniency around Christmas and Easter, Brown released a list of 59 gubernatorial pardons on Friday. As usual, the bulk of them addressed old drug crimes and lower-level offenses such as burglary and insurance fraud.
Receiving a pardon requires turning the corner from past crimes. To be considered, someone must have lived a crime-free life for the decade after completing his or her sentence and have received a court-issued certificate of rehabilitation. Pardons do not clear or seal records but can bring benefits like being allowed to own guns, serve on juries or work as probation officers.
“These pardons recognize — and even affirm — that people can turn their lives around after making mistakes and become solid members of their community,” Brown said in an emailed statement.
Brown has proved more willing than his immediate gubernatorial predecessors to issue pardons, extending 742 since 2011, including Friday’s batch. The past three governors combined for 28, though governors before that issued hundreds apiece.
The latest additions did not include well-known figures like the Christmas 2015 group that included actor Robert Downey, Jr. Among those receiving pardons Friday:
▪ A man was sentenced in Sacramento County for adding items that were not stolen to an insurance claim after a home burglary. Another man sentenced in Sacramento County had received stolen property.
▪ For illegally storing and transporting his company’s hazardous waste, a man served three years’ probation in Los Angeles County.
▪ A man who stole from a pizza delivery person served one year and one month in prison.
▪ For stealing money from his boss, believing he was owed back pay, a man served three years’ probation and 180 days in jail.
▪ Allowing two young children to leave the house while she slept earned a woman nine months in prison on child cruelty charges.
(Courtesy, the Sacramento Bee)
FREE WOMAN BLUES
Six bits ain't no dollar / six months ain't no long time
If you want to come to your baby / you can see me any time
Take me for your prisoner / let that one I love go free
Six months in the workhouse / sure ain't hard for me
If you take me back baby / I'll let you be my boss
Let you do anything / but nail me on the cross
Baby baby baby / I got all my clothes out on pawn
I'm going to wake up one morning / and have all my glad rags gone
— I. C. Blues, 1927
It's time to discard useless, obfuscating terms like "Christian" and "Muslim." We need to see the issue clearly, which is that all fundie right-wing religious zealots, no matter what their particular "flavor" and no matter what collection of syllables and consonants they utter when they name themselves, nor what "uniform" they happen to wear, are one body and are in timeless mortal opposition to peace, progress and forward thought everywhere. They always have been, and they always will be.
The only reason our own American fundie fanatics are not committing in-your-face atrocities is because they are constrained by living in a (however imperfect) secular western democracy. The Xtian right in this country look with secret envy upon their bearded, turbaned or ski-masked counterparts in the Muslim world. They wish they themselves could be turned loose to stone adulteresses, behead and burn apostates, throw gays off of tall buildings and so forth. They wish they did not live with laws that prevent them from fully expressing themselves, as they were able to do in centuries past, during the Inquisition, for example.
The Xtian right and the Muslim right, and the right wing of ANY system of authoritarian superstitious belief (and that includes so-called "atheistic" dictatorships, where the dictator himself becomes a "god"), are not, as they like to pretend, in opposition to one another. They are the same, brothers under the skin. Their common enemy is every rational, forward-thinking, freedom-loving, secular person anywhere on the planet, at any time.
-- Eleanor Cooney, Mendocino
PS, It's disingenuous to say that "Islam" (for want of a better word) does not mistreat women and that we should refer back to the Koran as proof of that. The Republican party of Lincoln's time bore just about zero resemblance to the Republican party of today; in the century and a half since then, it has morphed into something that Lincoln would not recognize. The name is all they have in common. So we have these words--"Republican" or "Islam"--and we use them as if we all agree on what those words contain, and then we build arguments upon them, like building a house on landfill.
In exactly the same way as with the above example, though the Koran might have included directives on the fair treatment of women (I don't know; I've never read it, the same way I haven't read The Book of Mormon or the Bible or the Supplemental Hardware Guide or the Hackensak Telephone Directory), the "Islam" of today has, in plenty of societies, maybe not all, but plenty, plainly morphed into something else entirely in the intervening twelve centuries, and not just here and there and in a few instances. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and great swaths of Africa are notorious for their casual, everyday, wretched treatment of women. Granted, the men don't always fare so well either, and being rich or poor is going to have a lot to do with how much you suffer, male and/or female, but to be penisless in such parts of the world puts you many abysmal notches below from the moment you're born. It's what they are doing today that we are speaking about, not what they might have been doing centuries ago.
The Wahhabist Saudi Royal Family, Caliphs, Grand Muftis, Ayatollahs, Imams, chieftains and warlords who are in charge in these deeply sexist, rigidly gender-segregated, pathologically puritanical places would be surprised indeed to learn that they are not practicing "Islam."
JERRY BROWN CELEBRATES WORLD WATER DAY AS HE PROMOTES SALMON-KILLING TUNNELS
by Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown on March 22 issued a statement celebrating World Water Day and the White House Water Water Summit as he continues to promote the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history, the California Water Fix to build the Delta Tunnels
“On World Water Day — as California’s drought stretches on — we’re reminded that no matter where you live, access to water is not guaranteed,” proclaims Brown. “With today’s Summit and the Federal Action Plan, the Obama Administration is confronting this reality and planning for the future.”
“The White House Water Summit focused on water challenges throughout the country, including California’s drought, and ways to build a more resilient water future," according to the Governor's Office.
Ahead of the Summit, the Obama Administration released a Presidential Memorandum and Federal Action Plan that aim to bolster long-term drought resilience in the United States by setting drought resilience policy goals, directing specific drought resilience activities to be completed by the end of the year and permanently establishing the National Drought Resilience Partnership as an interagency task force responsible for coordinating drought resilience, response and recovery efforts.
The Governor's Office proclaims, “These efforts complement the state’s updated California Water Action Plan, released earlier this year, which lays out the actions that must be taken to protect water supplies for people and the environment and to fix the state’s critical water resource problems.”
One of the key components of the California Water Action Plan to “fix the state’s critical water resource problems” is the California Water Fix to build two massive tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to export Central Valley and Trinity River water to corporate agribusiness interests, Southern California water agencies, and oil companies conducting fracking and other extreme oil extraction methods in Kern County.
The Delta Tunnels Plan, with an estimated cost of up to $67 billion. would not yield one single drop of new water. Yet it would hasten the extinction of Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, along with imperiling the salmon and steelhead runs on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.
Brown’s aggressive promotion of the California Water Fix to build the Delta Tunnels is just one of his many horrible environmental policies that make him undoubtedly one of the worst Governors for fish, water and the environment in recent California history.
Brown wholeheartedly supports water management operations that have brought winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species closer and closer to extinction.
The population of Delta smelt, an indicator species that demonstrates the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, has declined to a new record low population level, according to the spring 2016 surveys conducted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). (www.dailykos.com/...)
The Delta smelt collapse is part of an overall ecosystem decline driven by water diversions by the federal and state water projects, The CDFW's 2015 Fall Midwater Trawl demonstrates that, since 1967, populations of striped bass, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, American shad, splittail and threadfin shad have declined by 99.7, 98.3, 99.9, 97.7, 98.5 and 93.7 percent, respectively, according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA).
The Brown administration has also been embroiled in a number of major scandals, including delaying the declaration of an emergency in the Porter Ranch Gas Blowout for many months while his sister, Kathleen, received a big salary as a board member of Sempra Energy, the company that owns SoCalGas. (redgreenandblue.org/...)
His appointees on the Coastal Commission recently fired the respected Executive Director, Charles Lester, under pressure from big developers and corporate interests.
Under Brown, the Department of Conservation has become known as a virtual subsidiary of the oil and gas industries as it has been mired in one scandal after another as the Governor promotes the expansion of fracking and other extreme oil extraction techniques in California.
The scandals range from Browns’ firing of the two top oil industry regulators in 2011 because they wouldn’t violate the Clean Water Drinking Act by expediting oil drilling permits, to the appointment of a Big Oil industry executive as district deputy for the Bakersfield in the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources. (www.eastbayexpress.com/...)
Jerry Brown also oversaw the "completion" of so-called “marine protected areas” under the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, overseen by a Big Oil lobbyist and other corporate interests, in December 2012. These faux “Yosemites of the Sea” fail to protect the ocean from oil drilling, fracking, pollution, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.
The “marine protected” areas created under the process continue to violate the traditional fishing and harvesting rights of the Yurok Tribe and other North Coast Tribes and are based on false assumptions and terminally flawed “science.”
As it those examples of Brown’s tainted environmental legacy weren’t enough, Brown has promoted carbon trading and REDD policies that pose an enormous threat to Indigenous Peoples around the globe; has done nothing to stop clearcutting of forests by Sierra Pacific and other companies; presided over record water exports from the Delta in 2011; and oversaw massive fish kills of Sacramento splittail and other fish species in 2011. (www.alternet.org/...)
Unfortunately, in spite of all of these terrible policies and scandals, the mainstream media still provides fawning coverage of Brown’s cynical grandstanding about “climate change” and "green energy” at climate conferences and photo opportunities. This takes place even though Brown continually promotes the agendas of Big Oil, corporate agribusiness and other Big Money interests here in California.
The contributions to Governor Brown’s Proposition 1 campaign in the fall of 2014 illustrate how corporate interests have been able to completely capture his administration’s environmental policies. Big Money donors, including corporate agribusiness interests, timber barons, billionaires, Big Oil, HMOs and others, dumped $21.8 million into the campaign. This influx of tainted money resulted in Brown breaking his “promise” that bond money wouldn't be used to mitigate environmental damage caused by the tunnels. (www.eastbayexpress.com/...)
When the mainstream media greenwashes Brown’s abysmal environmental record, they not only provide a false narrative about his policies, but become complicit in his war on fish, rivers, the Delta, the oceans and the people of California. As far as I know, I’m the only journalist who has looked at Brown’s environmental policies as a whole, and not just specific areas of it such as the Delta Tunnels and fracking.
Brown has received favorable ratings from California voters in recent polls, but he would get much lower ratings if the mainstream media would tell the truth about Brown’s environmental policies.
For the latest update on the Delta Tunnels Plan, go to: fishsniffer.com/...
WOODCUTTING PERMITS AVAILABLE FRIDAY
WILLOWS, Calif. - Starting Friday, April 1, personal use firewood permits will be available for purchase from the Mendocino National Forest. Permits are $5 per cord of wood, with a minimum purchase of four cords for $20. The permits are good through December 31, 2016. The wood does not have to be cut at the same time. All firewood removed must be dead and down. It is illegal to remove firewood from the National Forest without a valid permit. Permits are available in person or by mail order from one of the Forest offices listed below. Mail order forms are available online at www.fs.usda.gov/mendocino
If a person is unable to cut the wood themselves, they can obtain a third party authorization when they purchase their permit that will allow someone else to cut or gather the wood. All firewood permit sales are final, with no refunds. Permittees will receive tags and a map of the Forest. Permit holders should be aware that federal and state quarantines to prevent the spread of sudden oak death (SOD) are in effect for Lake and Mendocino Counties. Any firewood cut in these counties can only be transported into other SOD quarantine counties, including Alameda, Contra Costa, Humboldt, Marin, San Francisco, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma.
Firewood permits can be purchased from the following offices:
Mendocino National Forest Supervisor's Office/Grindstone Ranger District Office
825 N. Humboldt Ave., Willows, CA 95988
Hours: Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Stonyford Work Center
5171 Stonyford-Elk Creek Road, Stonyford, CA, 95979
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 8 a.m.-12 p.m., 1- 4:30 p.m.
Covelo Ranger Station
78150 Covelo Road, Covelo, CA 95428
Hours: Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-12 p.m. 1-4:30 p.m.
Upper Lake Ranger Station
10025 Elk Mountain Road, Upper Lake, CA 95485
Hours: Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-12 p.m., 1-4:30 p.m.
Gathering firewood is important to many individuals and families surrounding the Mendocino National Forest. Following are some tips for a safer experience.
Plan your trip - check the weather, bring plenty of warm clothes for spring and fall through winter cutting, water, emergency food, and the appropriate gear for the season when you are gathering firewood. Make sure you have a full tank of gas when you leave and are prepared for changing conditions in the mountains! Also, let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back.
Keep vehicles on designated roads and be aware of changing weather and road conditions. Wet dirt roads can quickly turn to mud, making it possible to get stuck and causing damage to road, soil and water resources. If there are puddles in the road, mud flipping off the tires or you can see your ruts in the rearview mirror, consider pulling over and taking a hike to look for wood, or turning around and finding a different area to cut your firewood.
As we enter fire season, be aware of fire restrictions or closure orders that may be in place restricting where you can go. Make sure you have a spark arrester on chainsaws and any other mechanical equipment being used.
Make sure you are cutting firewood on the Mendocino National Forest and not from other federal, state or private lands.
For more information, please contact the Mendocino National Forest or visit www.fs.usda.gov/mendocino
Administrative Officer (Detail)
Mendocino National Forest, Supervisor's Office
Berryessa Snow Mountain Monument
825 N. Humboldt Ave
Willows, CA 95988