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Off the Record (Apr 6, 2016)

ON A BEAUTIFUL SPRING afternoon, let's talk about syphilis. Recommended reading: "Pox — Genius, Madness, and the Mysteries of Syphilis by Deborah Hayden." Lots of interesting stuff in this book, including a history of the clap and its cures, much of it scrotum-tightening, I should warn you boys who might be interested in reading Ms. Hayden's book. The famous people believed to have suffered the ravages of "the poison of darkness," include James Joyce, Flaubert, Isak Dinesen (infected by her gallant husband) and, of course, Hitler, although he was never for sure confirmed as syphilitic but, it seems, was more of a tweaker, i.e., an addict of the pharmaceutical speed first concocted by the Germans. Mendocino County homeboy, Jim Jones, incidentally, was also driven over the brink by his amphetamine addiction, but he was not known for the artistic eminence of the case studies included here and flamed out before he could take over the whole country, but not before easily conquering Mendocino County, San Francisco, and the Democratic Party. Anyway, "Pox" is a worthwhile read if heavy going in the science of syph sections.

ALSO RECOMMENDED is "The Beautiful Struggle," by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a brilliantly rendered autobiography by a black kid uniquely raised by his eccentric, scholarly ex-Marine, ex-Black Panther, father. Never have read anything like it, and I got the feeling throughout that this guy and his family are unlike any family you've ever heard of, let alone known via some of the liveliest prose you'll read.


RIP VAN BOONVILLE watched his grandson at grandson's pre-t-ball class Saturday morning, grandson's first formal exposure to baseball. These were pre-schoolers, four-year-olds. At this age a single child can be like herding a half-dozen cats. Ten at a time? It takes a genius of a teacher, and this teacher, Tim Musselman, was good. He explained everything so clearly, with a lot of jokes tossed out for the parents, that every single kid not only paid close attention, but followed his instructions to the T, you could say. I felt like applauding the guy. He was terrific.

RIP VAN'S memory grows dim, and the only vivid recall he has is of the church bells ringing in celebration of the end of World War Two. Sports for Rip Van commenced soon after. From about age six my brother and I played pretty much all day, and swung baseball bats inside when we could get away with it. "If I catch you swinging that goddam bat in here one more time…" (It was also a time of blunt child instruction.)

BUT THERE WAS NO organized sports for kids until high school — no t-ball, no little league, no nothing until freshman year, and then it was jv football, basketball and baseball, basically the same sports-beguiled kids drawn to ball games at an early age.

UP THROUGH the early 1950s — pre-tv and pre-pervs, kids simply went to the playground unsupervised and played or watched whatever sport was underway and imitated the big kids who, it must be said, were definitely Not Nice. They'd make you shag balls without ever letting you hit, didn't allow you to play basketball at all because you were too short and slow and whiney, and football was what came later.

INSTRUCTION was non-existent. You learned by imitating the big kids on the playground and from watching the semi-pro ball games on the weekends. By the time Rip Van was 7 or so, definitely by age 8, he was following sports in the newspapers, picking up a lot of math by calculating batting averages and on-base percentages. He remembers listening to Babe Ruth die, bulletin by radio bulletin.

SO, RIP, why are you telling us all this? I don't know, except all day every day I have a hard time recognizing the world I grew up in. But last Saturday, the entire field was covered with youth ball games, boys and girls playing everything from soccer to softball to what looked like little league. And every time I go to a public park in Marin or San Francisco I see fathers playing baseball with their sons, and some of the little guys already have perfect swings and advanced throwing motions. Everything is hyper-organized. A friend said he thinks our nation's future is so hyper-organized "that these kids can't possibly be having any fun." They look like they're having hyper-fun to me, but until they report back, we can't really know. There were, of course, some real psycho-parents out there, screaming bad advice to the little ones, recording the every move of their heirs and heiresses. As a kid, Rip roamed where he would without adult supervision.

THE RAILROADING OF MICHAEL FRANCE, a true-life irony. Occasional AVA correspondent Michael France was in court Tuesday hoping to delay his impending prison sentence, the result of a conviction for colorfully over-the-top threats to kill his pregnant former girl friend, along with other ludicrously violent acts. France said his mother was ill and needed him back in Ukiah, not in prison.


But apparently Monday night at the jail he went off on one of his signature tantrums and had to be brought in to court wearing the fluorescent chartreuse coveralls of the mentally unbalanced, under close security escort. An incident report was put in his file and he was taken back to the jail, as the judge was in the middle of a trial.

France has also made an attempt to have his conviction overturned by alleging his prosecutor was out of line. The investigator from the California State Bar Association called me on this matter, since I had reported on his trial, and asked if I’d noticed the prosecutor “leading any witnesses?” I told the investigator I wasn’t a lawyer, and therefore didn’t know the rules well enough to say one way or the other, but had every confidence in France’s lawyer, Jona Saxby, to object to any such carrying on. Hence, the case against the lawyer was closed, and France went back in line for prison.

“I was railroaded,” he snarled as the corrections officers took him away.

“Yes, but you laid the track yourself,” a lawyer commented dryly.

Watching most of the men who get sentenced to prison is a lesson in humility and dignity. Most are stoic. They take it like a man, we used to be able say. But who is going to envy Michael France? Let us admit at once the virtues of Mr. France, his learning and the width of his interests, his acuteness in some things. Let us concede the lumbering geniality that has been said to exist deep below his rough surface. Let us admit that the surface itself must have been, at first sight, sometimes impressive – how else could he have taken in, even temporarily, so many excellent lawyers? Let us concede, as a mitigating factor, that for prison no man was ever, by physical or mental constitution, less fitted.

We don’t want to draw a cartoon, but how can we deny his comical swagger — the "punk strut," I believe it’s called — his readiness to take others too lightly, and himself too seriously. And what are we to make of that teardrop tattooed on his face? Isn’t that the badge of a killer? Is that why he’s scrambling so desperately to avoid prison? Is he afraid he might have to explain it to a real killer? I’m afraid so; and, apparently, so is Michael France. (— Bruce McEwen)

PROPONENTS of Measure V — the pending ballot measure aimed at prohibiting landowners from using of chemical concoctions to destroy unwanted tree species — announced last week that they have filed a formal complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission against Mendocino Redwood Company for failing to properly report political spending.

MEASURE V is also the initiative that declares intentionally killed trees left standing a public nuisance. The measure was initiated by a group of volunteer firefighters alarmed by the risk millions of dead trees pose to both firefighters and residents. During the period in question – July through December, 2015 – proponents were collecting signatures to qualify the initiative for the upcoming June 7, 2016 ballot.

DURING THAT PERIOD, it appears Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC) spent over $52,000, largely on a media campaign, urging voters not to sign the petitions that would put the measure on the ballot, but did not report this political spending to the Mendocino County Elections Office as required by the California Fair Political Practices Act (FPPC).

A WILLITS READER comments on Scott Peterson's recent Mendopia post where he takes on Willits, and the famously noxious, now closed, Remco plant in the middle of town:

Peterson says, “It’s so toxic it can poison the unborn for generations…”

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? “40 times” the poison as in Hinkley? Can’t say I’ve heard that before. Implication of dead fish in Humboldt County and Mendocino village due to chromium pollution? News to me. Reminds me of all those who are convinced about giant cover-up of radiation from Fukushima is causing sea star wasting and dead sea lions and the rest, instead of such problems being due to the ocean getting warmer and more toxic due to climate change).

“The poison hasn’t gone away”?

SO SCOTT PETERSON thinks all the reports from the trust cleaning up the Remco site are a total lie and a front? Making fun of “molasses” as a clean up agent just shows he doesn’t know a lot about chemistry, I’m afraid. He’s entitled to his opinion, but a few words on a screen don’t a persuasive argument make. Worrying about chromium poisoning your marijuana? I’d worry about pesticides myself, if I was going to smoke any marijuana grown anywhere near Remco.

“The plume has grown…”

ACCORDING TO WHO? Certainly not what the trust reports, but property values haven’t…


NO, I will dispute that: property values in the City of Willits are back up bigtime, if you can find something to buy, which is easier said than done. Somebody told me the other day there wasn’t a single home to be sold in town proper; the last one had just been sold. I’m not sure that’s true, but I do see that houses are selling fast, and close to all, if not all, the lots out at Haehl Creek have also been sold too.

I KNOW this sort of thing appeals to those who like to believe all the explanations can be found in secret cabals controlling everything, but I don’t believe history or even current events is as tidy as all that. On the other hand, obviously, we’ve been 'poisoned' for many decades now with chemicals that were supposed to be New! Bright! Modern! Safe! Effective! – including all the poisons you find in the food in the grocery stores today – and of course, given the science, it’s clear the Remco plant had adverse health effects on any number of Willits residents at the time, and still has an effect on those who worked there and those who went to school right behind there when Remco was operating and when the old Howard Hospital was burning medical waste right there with little concern for the health of the neighbors. (Bob Harrah’s own family among the school kids on the playground breathing it all in and drinking from the water fountains, no doubt.)

ISN'T IT CLEAR that the internet has spawned millions of crackpots? In an on-line exchange with a reader the other day that was the point I'd made. Hardly original with me, but the pure volume of misinformation and lunatic conspiracy stuff now instantly available to the global millions of the credulous with a concomitant decline in basic literacy…

MY CYBER-PAL agreed: “I dunno, maybe I was younger and more naïve, but seems like back in the most of the rest of my life, when I read something about an industrial pollution scandal or some kind of corruption scheme — or about mainstream media ignoring such which, of course, they did — those who put the stories out, even if it was in the form of a mimeographed newsletter, realized the need for some kind of reference materials, attributed quotes, some kind of factual material to back their assertions up.

NOW it’s all “Facebook memes” (almost always wrong even when you agree with the sentiment). It agrees with what I already believe is right, so it’s “truthy” and who cares if it’s not true. I have literally had the gist of that said to me, by right and by “left,” on line.

ANOTHER THING, my friend continues, I find really annoying (which is quite ironic, really, given my work for and admiration of and realization of the need for an independent press) is the constant outraged refrain about how reporters are double-plus ungood, paid-off (that’s a laugh) tools of the “corporate media” deliberately censoring the shining truth, and the news is a lie, when what the complainers are really thinking about are the idiot bobbleheads on cable TV, and the national op/ed pundits. No, Nicholas Kristof and David Brooks and Chuck Todd are NOT reporters. They don’t do NEWS. You may get your “news” from cable TV talk shows and links to op/ed columnists, but most Americans don’t. Don’t throw the goddamned baby out of the bathwater, please.

AND THAT'S NOT EVEN to mention the apparent inability of even my bright and very capable young colleagues under 40 to read more than the top few lines of anything. I think it’s a technical problem: stuff floats into their cell phones and they read what they can on the top of that tiny screen, and leave it at that, maybe meaning to get back to read it later, but they never do) Old curmudgeons we are.

THE CANDIDATES! The Mendocino County Assessor-Clerk-Recorder’s Office has finalized the June 2016 primary election ballot. Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman runs without opposition in Department 1; two local lawyers, one from Fort Bragg, Patrick Pekin and the other from Ukiah, Keith Faulder are running for the Department 5 seat; Dept. 8 Judge Cindee Mayfield is running unopposed.

A SELF-DESCRIBED constitutional lawyer, Montana James Podva, is running for 1st District (Potter Valley) Supervisor Carre Brown’s seat; in the 2nd District (Ukiah) Supervisor John McCowen is running unopposed, just like 4th District (Fort Bragg) Supervisor Dan Gjerde. The only way Podva might unseat Carre Brown is by promising more free water for Potter Valley.

GraceLiuNORMAN DEVALL passes along the sad news that Dr. Grace Liu has died. "I received a call from her son, Paul. Grace, acupunctururist, was 93 and as you may know her husband had been the personal doctor to Chiang Kai-Shek. An unknown number of his supporters fled Taiwan for Mendocino County, arriving in the early 1960s. Their history and how or why they chose (or were ‘suggested’) to come here has not been written."

NORM has his China history a little mixed up. Chiang Kai-Shek and his supporters hauled ass out of China to Formosa (Taiwan) when the communists led by Mao tse-Tung defeated them in 1949. Chiang and Company, heavy on crooks, deserved their defeat, as our excellent general, Joe Stilwell made clear in his contemporaneous accounts. Quite a few Chinese nationalists wound up in California, especially in San Francisco, but not many settled this far north. So far as I'm aware, Mrs. Liu and family were the only ones to settle in Mendocino County.

ALBION MOUNTAIN LION ALERT. Several have been sighted in the higher reaches of the area, causing one woman to spend a sleepless night beating on pots and pans to chase the big cats away from her alpacas, none of which were harmed.

WE THOUGHT the flap over the Ukiah Animal Shelter had concluded with the official termination of the RFP process, but that appears to be wishful thinking. A glimpse on the county's Request for Public Records site shows a flurry of recent activity involving the besieged agency. Since January 23, 2016, 26 requests have been made for information and documents relating to the shelter. To comply, the County has released 116 documents, some of which are 200-plus pages of pdf files. Requests range from information about animal intake/outtake statistics, to all correspondence between the executive office, the board and HHSA, hiring information of the interim shelter manager, all shelter policies, programs and procedures, all veterinary contracts, and staff certifications to carry out euthanasias.

IS THIS the newest installment of a never-ending gripe with shelter management? Or the County? Or both? Seems like someone has an agenda that is way off base with the oft-repeated "It's all about the animals" slogan heard at Supes meetings the past half year.

MORE TIME, energy and tax dollars going to what purpose? Sheltergate — only in Mendo.

NO SOONER had I written only in Mendo when here comes a deluge of additional info demands: REQUEST 1) For 2015 and for 2016, the dollar amount of expense allotted to the salary for Interim Director David Jensen at the Mendocino County Animal Care Services. 2) What is the pay/salary for Mary Jane Montana as extra help position as Interim Shelter Manager? 3) What is the pay/salary for the new security guard at Mendocino County Animal Care Services also please include the hours and days the security guard works.

DUNGENESS CRAB season has finally kicked off. California's crab catch averages more than $60 million a season, but high levels of domoic acid had been detected in the delectable sea spider, delaying until now the usual November opening. Crabbers have agreed to $2.90 a pound, ten cents less than the 2014-15 season.

IN THE MEAN TIME, starve. Governor Brown and various of his labor and elected gofers have agreed to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022 for large business and 2023 for businesses employing fewer than 25 people. The raise is of course resisted by the usual suspects and much haggling remains before it's adopted.

WRITING on the ava's comment line, a reader reported that by the Mental Health department's own statement there were 67 full time employees out of 77 allocated positions, a number, the writer notes, "like all the others, which appears to have no basis in reality."

ED NOTE: We just checked the budget book for 2015-16 and the reader is correct. And the “adopted 2015-16” “employees” salary line item for that budget unit shows about $2.5 million. If they average $50k per employee salary then that’s about 50 employees. If they average $60k per employee base salary, that’s about 42 employees (benefits are budgeted separately) which is in the vicinity of what Health and Human Services Agency Chief Financial Officer Doug Gherkin told Supervisor Gjerde that they had authorized, but, Gherkin said, there are only about 22 or 23 actual employees in Mental Health. Nobody ever mentioned any numbers as high as 67 or 77 “full time equivalent” employees.

IT APPEARS that the Kemper Report should have included an audit of the County’s own Mental Health Department, not just its outside contractors. These numbers ranging as much as they do tend to imply that somebody’s hiding some money somewhere in the Mental Health budget since it’s highly unlikely that it’s an accident. Given the County’s history with state audits it might even be prudent to stash some slush money for when the state asks for x-million dollars back when they reject y-percent of the County’s mental health bills. But in the interest of the County’s new and highly touted transparency policy you’d think they’d do it in the open, not hide it in “authorized but not filled or funded” salary budgets.

A FEDERAL ADVISORY Council on Historic Preservation says local Indian tribes are correct to be unhappy with Caltrans’ identification and management of archaeological finds at the Willits Bypass project. The California State Historic Preservation Office will have the final say on the dispute.

SIGN OF THE TIMES last week in Fort Bragg. A man was seen standing in front of the Police Department with a knife. His wife called the police to identify the man as her husband, and to report he'd said he was going to shoot the next person who walked past him. The crazy guy then called police dispatch himself to say he'd placed the knife on the ground far enough away from himself that it couldn't be considered a weapon. The cops walked outside and arrested him, transporting the guy to Coast Hospital where Mental Health was summoned to evaluate him.

AND HERE'S where you get a clear idea of what your annual $20 million for mental health services is getting you. Mental Health said they thought they could get to Fort Bragg in two hours (!) to have a look at Knife Man.

THE COPS, I'm sure, knew within a couple of minutes how dangerously nuts the man was, and probably could have resolved the situation without hanging around the hospital for two hours waiting for a mental health person to validate what they already knew, which would have been something like, "He does this when he's off his meds but isn't dangerous. Just likes a little attention now and then."

WHO KNOWS for sure, but what is known is, if the County had a place where the mentally ill could be taken directly for a psych-eval most of the mentally ill people the police deal with on a regular basis could be sorted out a lot faster and much more effectively than is now not being done at a cost of $20 million a year.

SHERIFF ALLMAN'S outline of a mental health strategy is the first specific plan to arrive in Mendocino County since the old County Farm of far yesteryear, a safe place for the frequent fliers, including, besides crazy people and people crazed by drugs, drunks and incompetents, to re-orient themselves. Such a County-wide facility could be established and effectively staffed at the old Howard Hospital in Willits for much less than the $20 million we now spend on the, ahem, "homeless." As it is, the County's police forces not only do ALL the mental health heavy lifting, Allman houses them in the County Jail, not generally considered a restorative setting for the mentally ill.

A COUPLA interesting on-line comments regarding an investigation underway of HumCo's children's services:

(1) "They've needed a good investigation for years… We were foster parents years ago. The system was completely financial based, not child based. Children had multiple placements because 'reunification' was the priority. Some people are not meant to be parents. The children were victimized over and over again. By their family and the system. There was a very strong foster parent group for awhile, but after years of injustice, they just disbanded. Abused children are in a revolving door. It was/is sick. We stopped fostering as well. When you have no power to change the system, you become part of the system. We couldn't be part of the abuse…"

(2) "There is not a Children's Service in this country that the same can't be said of. We do not consider this worthy of either financial or administrative help/oversight. We never have. Unwanted children have never been a priority in this nation, just like the poor have never been. We care about the military (but not the returning vets). We care about subsidizing businesses and resource extraction but not the consequences of the reckless practices. You get my drift…"

I DO get your drift. As a former foster parent I agree completely with the above observations. But try moving the system in a more humane direction. Not possible in Mendocino County or any other place on the NorthCoast. Or the country for that matter. There is a huge apparatus of entrenched social workers and non-profits with a direct financial interest in the system as is. As is, of course, presided over by the courts who routinely sign off on custody atrocities.

AS OUR COUNTRY comes apart at an ever accelerating velocity, there are more and more children essentially abandoned by incapable parents and a social-service-non-profit axis that feeds off them.

A RATIONAL SYSTEM would remove imperiled children permanently when those children and their parents first come to the attention of the police and/or hospital emergency rooms. Ideally, at that first interface, they would be placed in stable homes obligated in the parental sense to the child forever. The huge amounts of tax money now spent on a system that socially cripples dependent children all their doomed lives would be routed to the families who have adopted them. Screwed up kids become screwed up adults. Just ask the next street person who stumbles past what his childhood was like.

GOES WITHOUT SAYING that the wine industry opposes SB 3, a bill that would raise the minimum wage in California to $15 per hour. Employers with more than 25 employees would pay $15.00 per hour by 2022. For a full time hourly wage earner, that equates to annual pay of $31,200. For employers with fewer than 25 employees, implementation is delayed one year.

January 1, 2017 - $10.50

January 1, 2018 - $11.00

January 1, 2019 - $12.00

January 1, 2020 - $13.00

January 1, 2021 - $14.00

January 1, 2022 - $15.00

A CERTAIN MS. BAUMGARTEN appeared before the Fort Bragg City Council last week. The poor thing had invested heavily in a Segway hoverboard business, for which she received a permit from the City. But it seems no one told her that the things are not allowed on the coastal trail, which was the focus of her enterprise. She seemed to have in mind a rental kiosk out on the bluffs, with bands of Segway tourists merrily zipping up and down the smooth surfaces of the fresh new trail. But the Coastal Conservancy forbids motorized vehicles, and anything of a commercial business out there is also forbidden. How this one will play out is up in the air.


STEVE SCALMANINI, mayor of Ukiah, is living proof of our oft-repeated observation that in Mendocino County you are whatever you say you are and history starts all over again every day. He blew in from wherever, affiliated with inland "activists," and next thing we know former Ukiah mayor Mari Rodin, herself a carpetbagger, appoints the guy to the Ukiah City Council, from which Scalmanini is magically elevated to mayor of the town. (The position is rotated. Scalmanini is yet to be elected to anything.)

THE OTHER DAY, Mayor Scalmanini calls an "emergency" meeting of the Council to discuss the completed tear-down of a building of zero historical value and less aesthetic appeal. Why the special meeting? A friend of the mayor’s apparently wanted to salvage some of the wood from the scrapped structure.

SCALMANINI'S special meeting was probably illegal since emergency meetings are supposed to be reserved for emergencies, which this was not.

JUSTINE FREDERICKSON of the Ukiah Daily Journal to the rescue, explaining what happened and leaving it to the always grounded councilman, Maureen Mulheren to put Scalmanini's emergency meeting in the reality lived by most people in Ukiah: "Describing herself as a woman with a full-time job, two children and other commitments, Council member Maureen Mulheren said she was ‘displeased’ to have the special meeting scheduled with only 24-hours notice. She suggested that since the mayor is not elected, and instead each council member gets the role by rotation, that all of the council members are equal and ‘we should all respect each other’s opinions, and a special meeting should only be called when at least three members feel passionately about a topic’.”

SCALMANINI, as usual missing the point, came back with, “I believe it is my duty as mayor to gather the council to discuss a topic when I believe it is in the public’s best interest. Frankly, I take pride in the fact that I did it. Had I not done so, I believe I would have been derelict in my duty.”

YO, SCAL! Write this down: Scrap wood is not a reason to call an emergency meeting. The guy who wanted the wood should have been able to work it out with the contractor all by himself.

FUNNY THING IS, this project had been in front of the City Council several times and the Mayor voted for approval along with everyone else. And the land is owned by the City or its Redevelopment Agency, including the lot with the now demolished house. The time to object was prior to voting approval for the project. The odd thing is that the Mayor spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony that was recently held for the project. This guy's bubble seems permanently off center.

A READER WRITES: I'm sitting here reading Off The Record and see that the AVA recommended the New Yorker article, ‘The Go Between,’ about Kate del Castillo. I just read the article, thank you for recommending. A few months ago, after reading about the meeting with Sean Penn, Kate and El Chapo, I ordered both seasons of La Reina del Sur from Amazon. I love crime stories and had previously read The Last Narco, by Malcolm Beith, about the hunt for El Chapo, so I was interested to see this actress who El Chapo admires so much. The telenovelas I've watched previously had English subtitles, so I was in for a rude awakening when I received my copies of La Reina Del Sur and found they had no subtitles. But I can understand most of it and I keep Google translate open on my phone while watching. Kate del Castillo is a mesmerizing actress and the other actors are really great too. In the telenovelas both men and women can burst into tears ON CUE. That's real acting. And with the grueling pace of filming so many episodes in only two seasons, the professionalism of the actors is admirable. La Reina del Sur has so much fast paced action and excellent cinematography on location around the world that even if your Spanish isn't great, the series is very enjoyable. Thanks again for recommending the article.

MARY THEROUX, vice president of the Independent Institute, a libertarian think tank in Oakland, offered this opinion on homelessness in San Francisco, also valid in Mendocino County, especially Fort Bragg and Ukiah: "Basically, the problems stem from the philosophical mind-set of San Francisco, which has to decide what kind of a community and society it wishes. If a civil society, then it is predicated on a view of all people as equal: We respect every individual as capable and deserving honor and respect, and in turn expect the same of them. San Francisco has instead adopted what it terms a progressive view, but is really an elitist view: that there are some people, “them,” incapable of living as fully human and who can’t be held to the standards to which we hold “us.”

"SAN FRANCISCANS' imposition of regulations and laws also reveals inherent elitism: We don’t even allow smoking in “our” areas, but condone drug use and worse in “their” areas. You can’t even have a cat in most market-priced apartments, but SROs have to allow dogs. Clearly “they” can’t be held to the same standards as “we” can. San Franciscans need empathy, not pity: They need to think, “If I were down on my luck, how would I want to be treated? Would I want people to extend a hand to help me get back on my own two feet, or dismiss my condition with handouts of sandwiches and life on the street, mired in increasing hopelessness?” And we can’t delegate the problem to be solved by the government: that’s not what government is for. Community is created and sustained by individuals working together."

FRANK EGGER is a long-time elected official in Marin. Egger also owns property in Redwood Valley. We wish he would run for office In Mendo. Egger's presently running for supervisor in Marin where county employee retirement packages are the hot issue. Frank sez, "I estimate that between the State employees, Teachers, 58 counties, 482 cities and over 2000 special districts, the unfunded liability for Post Employment Healthcare Benefits must be well over 400 billion dollars. Single Payer, Universal Healthcare is the only way to cover current employees, retirees and the uninsured without bankrupting the State." Which is why they're all broke and getting broker by the day. Despite the deluge of bafflegab out of Mendocino County's leadership about the fiscal well-being of the County, the basic fact is that more and more money has to be diverted from the general fund to pay for retirees' pensions and health bennies. That diverted money means less money for essential County services like road repair.

SUPERVISORS McCOWEN AND GJERDE want a fiscal analysis of Sheriff Allman's proposed ballot measure that would fund an in-county mental health facility and training center.

RECOGNIZING the need for, and present absence of, a secure site where drop-fall drunks, crazy people, the flipped-out sectors of drug people, and free-floating thanatoids can be housed and treated, Allman has announced that he and a committee of like-minded citizens hope to place a temporary, five-year, half-cent sales tax measure on the November ballot to fund an in-County mental health repair shop.

AS IT IS, Mendocino County spends upwards of $20 million a year to provide exactly nothing for the above mentioned, defining them indiscriminately as "the homeless." Allman's deputies and the city police departments of the County remove these above mentioned from the streets over and over again, housing them for short periods of time at the County Jail until our over-numerous, over-paid, under-concerned delegation of pro forma-behaving Superior Court judges free all of the above to begin the catch and release process over again. And again. And again.

I THINK we all recognize that America has lost its way, that it's up to us, small communities of citizens, to take care of our own dependent populations. Yes, in the years before we lost our way we had a state hospital system where people unable or unwilling to care for themselves were housed and, in some cases, made whole again. That system was destroyed by those sectors of the wealthy who feel they have no social obligations to the country that made them rich. They remain organized as the Republican Party.

THE TWO SUPERVISORS, Gjerde and McCowen, rightly want to know how the Sheriff's plan will work, what the County's role will be, hence Tuesday's agendized discussion.

(EXCUSE ME, GENTLEMEN, but since when have you asked for financial accountability? Allman has taken the initiative here because YOU don't have a plan, never have had a mental health plan, and may not have a clue other than to replace the disastrous Ortner with Redwood Quality Management Company, another private outfit, albeit a Ukiah-based business. Government does have certain responsibilities. Allman's plan restores government responsibility to government. You can integrate what's left of County Mental Health with the Allman Plan. Mendocino County needs its own Nut House. Obviously. State and federal authority are not going to get the ominous sectors of the euphemized "homeless" off the streets for us. Ever. We have to do it. As it stands, Mendocino County is squandering the twenty annual million it gets for allegedly helping the mentally ill on non-existent services.)

HERE'S how I would like it to work: Out of the temporary boost (5-years) to the sales tax the Sheriff either buys or leases, from the Queen of Willits, Marge Handley, the former Howard Hospital. Right there we're talking $2-$3 mil, but her majesty, known for her magnanimity and community-mindedness, as she keeps a sharp eye out on her bottom line, will certainly take less.

THEN YOU TAKE the most able County employees of the present mental health apparatus currently spinning their wheels to no visible purpose and assign them to the newly opened ALLMAN CENTER FOR THE HALT AND THE LAME in Willits. It can all be brought off for a helluva lot less than $20 million a year.

CITY MEDIA made a very big deal last week when KGO Radio lopped off a bunch of audio yappers. A lot of the comment especially lamented that Ronn Owens would now be at KSFO, as if any truly sentient person could possibly care where that unctuous bore had gone. (On the off chance anyone does care, Owens is now back at KGO according to the SF Chron.)

FRISCO once enjoyed radio that was fun and informative, with truly witty people like Don Sherwood, Carter B. Smith, Dunbar and Wygand. As Herb Caen once pointed out, during morning commute hours when Sherwood told a joke you could look over at the car next to you and the driver would be laughing. Everyone listened to Donny Babe. Any more, you get these tedious New York Times-style liberals who force feed listeners with correct opinions but are about as interesting as the guy at the end of the bar pounding you about the political difference between Biden and Kerry. And then there are the rightwing nuts who simply yell about Arabs and building a wall and blah blah blah. What happened to wit, what happened to funny?

OVER IN THE FM area of the ether, there is Michael Krazny. There is also Michael Krazny. And then there is Michael Krazny. He's the last genuinely erudite talk guy probably in the country — smart, articulate, fully informed, and occasionally witty. KPFA? Believe it or not, KPFA was once informative and fun. Then, suddenly, Larry Bensky was gone and crazy people were at the mike — Gary Null, nutballs raving about chem trails and Building 7, horoscopes, non-verbal teenagers. Pacifica can still be informative but the hosts can't talk and, unfortunately, love to listen to themselves Can't Talking. Note to Pacifica: Stumble through your over-long, repetitive question and get out of the way. Permanently. Don't interrupt the guest with a lot of your own pointless interjections. You are not cute. Or interesting. You're majorly irritating. Amy Goodman is very good at getting on and getting off. Assuming you're capable of improvement, radio yap-yaps, learn from the people like her who are good at what they do. (On the whole, I find Amy's show interesting only occasionally. Mostly, it's kinda like a trip to a political dentist; he's got you trapped with your mouth full of cotton and tools while he says lots of stuff that you want to argue with but can't.)

CLOSER TO HOME, we have Public Radio, Mendocino County, audio home of slow learners. For a small population, we suffer a disproportionate number of chronophages (time eaters). And they all seem to have radio programs. I don't want to insult anybody by name, but the mere mention of A through Z, I feel like someone has begun lightly tapping on my skull with a ballpeen hammer. Maybe the new management at KZYX will encourage the smart, articulate, fun talkers out there to do some interesting radio. Along with the chronophages we do have lots of smart, lively people who were banned by previous waves of mismanagement for being, well, smart and lively — Marco, Mitch, KC, off the top.


  1. George Hollister April 6, 2016

    “AS OUR COUNTRY comes apart at an ever accelerating velocity, there are more and more children essentially abandoned by incapable parents and a social-service-non-profit axis that feeds off them.

    A RATIONAL SYSTEM would remove imperiled children permanently when those children and their parents first come to the attention of the police and/or hospital emergency rooms. Ideally, at that first interface, they would be placed in stable homes obligated in the parental sense to the child forever. The huge amounts of tax money now spent on a system that socially cripples dependent children all their doomed lives would be routed to the families who have adopted them. Screwed up kids become screwed up adults. Just ask the next street person who stumbles past what his childhood was like.”

    A narrative I agree with. It used to be, children from parents who were wards of the state, or were unable to be cared for were either placed in orphanages or put up for adoption. Not perfect, but better than what we do today, at a higher cost. Now our priority is to feed the indulgences of biological parents, many who are substance abusers, to the detriment of the futures of their offspring. It feeds the prison system as well as the welfare system. Neither give a twit about their wards, and government does not even recognize the responsibility they have, either. The central government, and state government pay, so it is not my money, and not my problem. We live with the result.

  2. George Hollister April 6, 2016

    “I THINK we all recognize that America has lost its way, that it’s up to us, small communities of citizens, to take care of our own dependent populations. Yes, in the years before we lost our way we had a state hospital system where people unable or unwilling to care for themselves were housed and, in some cases, made whole again. That system was destroyed by those sectors of the wealthy who feel they have no social obligations to the country that made them rich. They remain organized as the Republican Party.”

    Of course that aspect of the narrative is wrong, and counter productive. It is a bipartisan problem, led by progressives who think central government programs, paid by other people, gets them off the hook for being socially responsible. Of course it is also impossible for an individual to intervene, since the money coming from the programs places a barrier between anyone wanting to help, and those who are dependent. Attempting to free a slave who is happy to be on the plantation, is a fruitless cause.

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