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Off the Record (Jun 29, 2016)

SHERIFF ALLMAN has turned in twice the required number of signatures needed to qualify his unique mental health proposal for the November ballot. The magic number is roughly 2100, Allman turned in 4300 signatures.

THE SHERIFF himself gathered 1500 of those qualifying signatures. "Only a few people wouldn't sign," the Sheriff said Friday afternoon, chuckling at the recollection. "An elderly woman said she wouldn't live long enough to see it, and another man said he didn't see a need for it."

SHERIFF ALLMAN'S PROPOSAL would, if realized, directly address the proliferating numbers of untreated mentally ill persons presently either housed at the County Jail, on the streets uncared for, or stacked up at emergency rooms where overwhelmed medical staff try to help them. Police and emergency room personnel have complained for years that the County's mentally ill are not being effectively treated.

IMPLICIT IN THE SHERIFF'S plan is the unspoken obvious — Mendocino County spends about $26 million annually for mental health services that are not being delivered, and that's the kind way of putting it. The unkind way of putting it is all this money is being spent while the County's police forces do almost all mental health's heavy lifting, and their only recourse is to house the mentally ill at the Mendocino County Jail which, of course, is not equipped or staffed to deal with the mentally ill.

THE ALLMAN PLAN would set aside five year's worth of sales taxes at a half-cent to develop a local mental health facility which will 1. Provide a psychiatric 72 hour hold capability, 2. Provide a 30 day transition and rehab facility, 3. Provide outpatient treatment and drug rehab to walk-ins, and 4. Provide a place where the County’s far-flung emergency responders can learn how to handle and effectively deal with psychological meltdowns. The proposed facility will be staffed by existing mental health staff.

FOR MANY YEARS, Mendocino County has not had an in-County mental health capability. Our mentally ill have been largely privatized as funding units for dubious outside businesses at enormous cost to local taxpayers. An in-County mental health facility would save the County large sums of public money by treating our mentally ill here at home.

KATE GASTON, one of the persons who helped draft Allman's strategy, put it this way recently at a Board of Supervisors meeting: “I’ve visited the jail several times. Mental illness leads to jail if a person is not officially declared 5150. And when they are, we have no facility in town. We send people to out of county treatment that we pay dearly for. We need to be reimbursed for in-county services and lower cost services. All this involves lost lives, lost time and there are no services in jail. This proposal answers multiple levels of needs. And it’s all reimburseable with an admin fee. We also need the post-trauma services to reduce the return rates. I understand the request for particulars — our [Allman’s] team can work on that. But I support having it on the ballot. We have to stop filling the emergency rooms and jail for months, stop sending people out of county. We need local, earlier walk-in and outpatient treatment so that fewer people are sent out of county and stuck there with no contact with their family or friends and no easy way to get back.”

TWO SUPERVISORS, Brown and Woodhouse, signed the Sheriff's ballot-qualifying petition. The other three supervisors have not been heard from as yet.

DON'T CRY FOR ME, POINT ARENA? So I will. The tiny town's $50,000-a-year, part-time manager, Richard Shoemaker, a guy mysteriously inflicted on PA after years of overpaid public work mostly in Ukiah, has, in various capacities, fended off Grand Jury criticism for many years by simply responding, and in the same language he deployed as a disastrous County supervisor, "I disagree wholly or partially…"

THE GRAND JURY accurately and irrefutably assessed PA's functioning this way: "The City has been inconsistent in code enforcement, providing preferential treatment for City Council members, while adhering more strictly to the code in the case of some members of the public…"

SHOEMAKER then says, "I have served as City Manager since October 1, 2015. During that time I have never experienced any sort of 'protocol violations' in regard to any Council members providing direction to city staff. I certainly have not felt pressured to do anything preferential or illegal."

BECAUSE he wasn't there when the teensy and incestuous fog belt government was doing each other big illegal favors. Typical Shoemaker who knowingly evades an objective look at government dysfunction by an objective body. The full report and responses can be seen at the County’s Grand Jury website.

RUMOR OF THE WEEK: A guy in Comptche called Tuesday afternoon to say that after the (apparent) passage of Measure V, MRC went out and hired 50 more hack & squirters. The caller said he heard it from "a very reliable source."

THE FOLLOWING ITEM appeared on the Tuesday, June 21 Supervisors Agenda: “Approval of Agreement with Liebert Cassidy Whitmore in the Amount of $165,000 for the Period of July 1, 2016, Through June 30, 2017, to Provide Contract Negotiations and Employer-Employee Relations Services with the County's Eight Bargaining Units and Other Legal Representation as Needed. …

NOT THAT LONG AGO this alleged “service” cost about $70k-$80k and it only required the “service” of one labor negotiator. Now the County has turned the whole job over to Sacramento lawyers. It’s a slap in the face of County employees and another admission that all those lawyers in the County Counsel’s office on top of the Human Resources staff can’t do a simple job of negotiating pretty much the same contract terms as are already in existence. Of course there will be some disputing of the wages this year, but that will come down to what the County decides to pay, not what some Sacramento law outfit decides for us.

COSTCO, Where art thou and thy half-off crates of Cheetos? Someone or someones continues to fund the Davis attorney who's keeping Ukiah's proposed Costco in court while most locals clamor for the bulk foods store. Ukiah, City of, predictably, hasn't convinced anybody except a local judge that another big box store on Big Box Row off Highway 101 is in any way, sensible, but Costco is what most people want.

UKIAH-BASED opponents originally got Costco to drop its mega-gas station and to modify other areas of its plan. The initial suit to stop Costco was brought by local, unionized grocery workers who pointed out that Ukiah's existing groceries will be severely impacted by Costco's cut-rate, non-union prices. The original plaintiffs have since withdrawn their sponsorship of the suit, but the Davis attorney refuses to say who he's representing.

DA EYSTER has hired his girl friend's brother, Richard Welsh, as Assistant District Attorney. Ordinarily, the hire might look like nepotism, but we're confident the guy got the nod only after the tried and true, Mendo-specific, "national search for excellence." The nation having been duly scoured, darned if excellence  wasn't sitting right there at Eyster's dinner table!  And the rest is history. Welcome aboard, bro!

THE FOLLOWING press release arrived last week from "Save Our Little Lake Valley, Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Earth First!, Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters." The contact person (and author) was Naomi Wagner and the dateline was Comptche.

NAOMI'S PRESSER said "Protesters had called for a “lock’n’block” protest at noon at the gates of MRC Timber Harvest Plan #1-14-148 MEN, nicknamed by her and her friends, “Half Way to Hell.” Naomi said she and her friends were unhappy that a "two-thirds majority of voters in Mendocino County had declared the practice of leaving of dead standing trees a public nuisance" while MRC shows no signs of dropping the use of the chemical Imazaypr to kill non-commercial tree species.

DECODING MS. WAGNER'S PRESS RELEASE announcing her demonstration against MRC at Comptche:

SAVE OUR LITTLE LAKE VALLEY was also the catch-all term for opposition to construction of the Willits Bypass.

THE COYOTE VALLEY BAND of Pomo Indians' Tribal Council probably has no idea that they are now involved with an effort to pressure MRC to drop the chemical poisoning of non-commercial tree species, although tribal bigwig Priscilla Hunter has long been affiliated with Wagner and Company.

EARTH FIRST! IN MENDOCINO COUNTY died with Judi Bari in 1997. Ms. Wagner was instrumental in the formation of a Bari Cult that successfully prevented Bari's former husband from becoming the primary suspect in the car bombing that abbreviated Bari's life. Bari's ex-husband, Mike Sweeney, is presently Mendocino County's lead garbage bureaucrat. Ms. W helped the Northcoast's premier ripoff artist, Darryl Cherney, create the false narrative of the Bari Bombing into a three million dollar federal payday for Cherney and Bari's two daughters.

THE BAY AREA COALITION FOR HEADWATERS is a thirty-year nonprofit scam consisting of a single woman called Karen Pickett. She's based in Berkeley. Under the false cover of various do-good causes, Pickett and a small handful of people, including the ubiquitous Cherney, have diverted donations to save trees to themselves, and they've done it for years now.

MS. WAGNER and her direct action team are trust funders and retired people, almost all women, average age 75. Wagner herself has been a recreational protester for years. MRC's unneighborly intransigence could face months of Screaming Meemies at their gates. The Fisher Family, MRC's owners, can expect to see the Meems at their homes in Pacific Heights, San Francisco. Footnote: Bari herself dominated Wagner et al by her considerable force of personality while privately regarding all of them as "nuts."


THIS PARTICULAR DEMO was apparently not known by MRC until media contacted them for comment. "One mechanic truck was prevented from going onto the site. That's all that happened. It seems it was only a media event."


FISH AND WILDLIFE says trail cameras have captured what may be another gray wolf roaming Northern California, "a lone wolf-like canid" in Lassen County. There are so many dog-wolf hybrids around these days, I wonder how F&W can tell the diff from the kind of grainy film they get of these creatures. Their wolf photos remind me of alleged Big Foot sightings.

MY ANIMAL INFORMANT tells me that wolves or hybrids are rarely seen at the Ukiah Shelter but are not unknown there. There are Mendo people who keep wolves and wolf dogs but not many, at least according to the available anecdotal evidence as relayed here by a reader:

"WOLVES have long, spindly legs. The coat may have a moth-eaten appearance, definitely not sleek or pampered looking. They certainly have a more distant look in their eyes than domestic dogs — they don't have that look of love that everyone goes on about— Ohhhh, my dog loves me soooo much. Yeah, right. I think it's criminal to keep a wolf in a house, and anyone who does should be put into public stocks.

"I THINK in this decade, the violent types go for the pit bulls; they assume the breed is always aggressive. People with wolves may actually be more in the woo woo department, and probably think they are really groovy having a beast in the house, and that they are communing with nature and god by having a one-on-one relationship with something wild. Ick."

WE CONTINUE TO HEAR complaint after complaint about the Mendocino County Planning & Building Department’s inexplicable delays in handling even the most straightforward permit applications. Reputable contractors we've talked to shake their heads and tell their tales of woe, all of them pretty much the same.

THEY COMPLAIN of nitpicky reviews which could be easily corrected on the spot but which some demanding planners require be redone or resubmitted, different answers to the same question depending on who is spoken to, inability to find and provide code citations which some planners or plan checkers allege should apply, unexpected delays in inspections while contractors sit around waiting, unnecessary costs of extra engineering, no supervision of planners since chief building inspector Chris Warrick retired (therefore no one to appeal to), arguable interpretations of subjective rules with imposition of dubious additional requirements.

IT'S NOT THAT ANYBODY in Ukiah's Department of Building Obfuscation is rude, unless you consider obtuseness rude, it's that they never seem to be on the same page and permits can sit without action for way too long.

YESTERDAY, we posted the County’s proud announcement about waiving big chunks of permit fees for developers and contractors who “create” certain numbers of jobs. That’s nice, albeit highly subjective, of course. But you can't get your project going if it takes forever to get your permit approved with all the extra requirements and charges. And you can't get it approved if every person you talk to cites different regs or simply makes up the rules on the spot or takes forever to issue it.

IF THE COUNTY and the Board of Supervisors want to make Mendo a better place for small businesses (which the permit waivers are presumably aimed at) they need to get a handle on permit processing.

WHICH BRINGS US to our monthly complaint about the total — and we mean TOTAL! — lack of regular reports from all the County's departments with tracking of budgets, staffing, workload and status of workloads.

FOR EXAMPLE, if the Supervisors required the Planning & Building Department to report on permit applications with numbers — date of submission, applicant, description, dollar value, and status — attention would get paid to the permits that are dragging out or are held up. The report how many were submitted, how many approved, and processing times, and should include a list of permits that are still unapproved after a month, and why — and when they will be approved. This would give the Board a way to stay on top of the activity they seem to want to encourage, and give the public a way to see if these complaints are widespread or isolated.

UNFORTUNATELY, standard organizational reporting will never happen here because history shows that the Board and the CEO simply don't want to know what their departments are doing (or more accurately are not doing) because if they knew they might have to do something about it.

AND IN OFFICIAL MENDO, as former Fifth District Supervisor David Colfax told everyone who complained to him either to go fuck themselves or in public settings, “Nothing can be done.”

LAST WEEK we applied for a permit to build three steps and a tiny deck to access a construction trailer. Time consumed by the application? Two trips over the hill from Boonville by two different persons and six hours later, we had the permit, but not before we were told that a rule obtained that no one could find. You'd have thought we were building a skyscraper.

GRAHAM HANNAFORD COMMENTS (on-line): If you plan on writing a long screed about how awful County Planning and Building Services is, you may try to get basic facts correct. The Building code is largely reliant on state regs. The zoning code is what guides planning decisions. If these “reputable” contractors find the very straightforward regulations in this county difficult, they aren’t very good and shouldn’t venture anywhere else, lest they find a County that is trying to restrict development. P.S. What does “a rule obtained” even mean?

ED NOTE: State and local regs should be known like their children’s names by people who resort to them as an innate part of their jobs, no? We just went through a prolonged song and dance re tie downs on, of all days, Quick Check Tuesday. P&B said it obtained, we said it didn’t. P&B commenced an hour long ‘net search for the relevant state citation. That search was fruitless but took us both an hour of our presumably valuable time. ‘Obtained’ is synonymous with ‘applied.’ Agreed, kinda archaic but ordinarily understandable even in Mendocino County. The sensitive part of our statement is, of course, our reluctance to name names other than our own. But asking around we find that contractors, the ones we talk with, are frustrated and, not intending to hurt your feelings here, contemptuous of the department. Myself, I’ve enjoyed a polite exchange with Mr. Dunnicliff who was helpful, actually. I assume you agree that people doing business with Mendocino County should not fear retaliation, that possible retaliation should not be a consideration. Over the years, my business, the Anderson Valley Advertiser, has often suffered at the hands of official Mendocino County. I should add that the retaliation has come from “liberals.” I’m not whining about it, but simply stating the facts.

FORMER MENDO JUDGE, JAMES 'JIM' LUTHER has written an odd memoir-ish account of his life as a Mendocino County judge. The book is called "Tales of the Last County Judge.” Tales is right. Court cases are disguised, names of the persons involved are changed unnecessarily, considering everything that goes on in a courtroom is public record. Oddly, as he prose-plods on making interesting events boring, Luther is pretty good at descriptive prose:

"He turned and looked at the back wall behind the audience section, up at the Twelve Framed Visages staring down at him. Twelve portraits all in a row, the first two of them drawings, the rest old photographs: All the judges who had sat there before him, one at a time, all the way back to the mid-1800s when the state was brand new and court was first held in the county…"

BACK to the drawing board, Jimbo. Write another book, but this time let 'er rip.

THE LOCAL ANGLE: A scandal involving the city management of Beaumont, California, Riverside County, turns out to have tentacles reaching Mendocino County: "Beaumont Suspects Own Coastal Land, 60 Bank Accounts"

Eggers’ Mendocino property is at 10550 Lansing Street, Mendocino (next door to Village Spirits liquor store)
Eggers’ Mendocino property is at 10550 Lansing Street, Mendocino (next door to Village Spirits liquor store)


The Eel River is the third largest river entirely in California. While it was once home to one of the most productive salmon and steelhead fisheries on the West Coast, the health of the watershed has been declining for the past century and a half. Conditions throughout the system are degraded, putting strain on native fish and other wildlife.

A popular false narrative that is kept alive by periodic repeats. The Eel River Watershed is highly erosive, and the role people play and have played to alter this condition one way or another over the years is insignificant. Salmon and Steelhead populations in the Eel, as in all of our North Coast watersheds, are primarily affected by ocean conditions that influence salmon and steelhead ocean food supply, and predation.

What we know is that we had robust populations of salmon and steelhead for a hundred years while we were doing all the wrong things to freshwater salmon and steelhead habitat. Then in 1977, the fish population crashed. And it crashed in all streams, including the Eel, regardless of whether there were significant human impacts. What we have seen since, is a new normal where often times there is more freshwater fish habitat than there are fish.

Freshwater fish habitat has been studied to death, and continues to be studied. What is seen is that sediment inputs are not well correlated with fish populations, neither is water temperature. The most significant freshwater correlation on fish population is with “structure” or heavy wood debris that provides habitat for young salmon and steelhead as they spend their early life before going to sea.

Currently, the best correlation that somewhat predicts fish populations is ocean upwelling, that provides nutrients for the ocean food chain. What is not known is to what extent nonhuman salmon and steelhead predation in the ocean, and competition for food from other species, including whales, is having on the marine environment and salmon and steelhead populations.

(Gentleman George Hollister, Comptche)

IT LOOKS LIKE The Willits Based conservation group calling itself the Blacktail Deer Association (which also has participated in a number of law enforcement marijuana raids in the North County with volunteer clean up crews) has won their lawsuit with the County without going to court.

IN MAY, the Blacktails sued, claiming that Mendo’s “urgency” marijuana ordinance (enacted to satisfy state deadlines) did not have enough enforcement and, besides, required an Environmental Impact Report.

THE BLACKTAILS demanded that the court issue an injunction on ordinance implementation until their (perfectly valid) objections were addressed.

LAST WEEK, the County reached a “settlement” with the Association by saying that no new medical marijuana cultivation “agriculture” permits will be issued, but the ones already in the pipeline will “continued to be processed,” and “enforcement,” whatever that may be, will continue for those that are approved.

MEANWHILE, the dozer growers in the North County will continue to proliferate outside the regs since the whole, burdensome and expensive process applies only to more mainstream growers who voluntarily apply to be regulated.

O.J. MADE IN AMERICA: An absolutely riveting five-part, ten-hour (including commercials) documentary recently aired on ESPN. Even though the high profile, months-long 1994 O.J. Simpson murder trial was not that long ago, the events surrounding the trial, both before and after, in sports and in criminal justice, have fallen from memory and have been buried by the media’s endless pursuit of the next big event. Producer Ezra Edelman said that he produced the show because he thought he "could use that [longer documentary] canvas to tell a deeper story about race in America, about the city of Los Angeles, the relationship between the black community and the police, and who O.J. was and his rise to celebrity.”

EDELMAN DID THAT and then some.

OJ, even buried in a Nevada prison, remains charismatic and, by far, also remains the most interesting figure ever in a country teeming with unusual people.

HAD TO LAUGH when mega-sleeze OJ attorney Shapiro claims the OJ defense dealt the race card "from the bottom of the deck." That race, and police, especially the LA police, would be the entirety of the OJ defense was inevitable, especially given the preponderance of black people on his jury and given the terrible history of police and black people.

BLACK PEOPLE have been brutalized and insulted by cops since the beginning of law enforcement. Duh. No rational person will deny that basic fact of American life. Since OJ had no rational defense, the LAPD's sloppy performance got OJ off, that and the LAPD's history, especially the still fresh beating of Rodney King.

THROW IN a wacky, star-struck judge, a marginally competent prosecution team, and OJ walks.

THE FILM'S interviews with key players add a wealth of behind the scenes context to the story that were not part of day to day reporting at the time. The film includes the gory crime scene photos that the media had avoided during the trial and an extended discussion of the Mark Fuhrman affair, with interesting comment from Fuhrman himself, also a charismatic character. Fuhrman is convincing when he says that he went through a bad period when he was a rookie cop but is not the same man now. Could be.

PARTICULARLY interesting was the coverage of the murky Vegas episode that landed O.J. in jail where he is to this day, having been maxed out by a clearly vengeful judge. OJ got way too much time for the goofy episode that got him in trouble again, albeit a goofy episode involving a gun and an armed robbery for the wrong stuff. The sports memorabilia OJ was trying to retrieve was stored in South San Francisco!

THE ONLY SOUR note struck here is the ending, where a former OJ friend, a white guy, says that OJ is "a tragic figure." A sad character, for sure, seduced by adulation from all the wrong people, but the tragedy here is that of the two young victims, Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, not OJ. He lives on.

A READER REACTS to Sunday’s latest PD story on the homeless who are “teeming” in Santa Rosa: “These sob stories sell newspapers but reality is so different. The ever-increasing handouts attract homeless. San Francisco is a great example. Many of the homeless in San Francisco aren't from San Francisco. They went there from all over the state, and some from out of state, to get the handouts. This story says that the majority of the homeless in Santa Rosa are locals. I wonder why they remain? So one woman lives in her car because she can't afford rent from her Walmart job. She can get a job at a Walmart in Sacramento, in Boise, in Medford, etc, etc, etc where rent is significantly lower. The same question can be asked of the homeless in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the world. Why stay? They stay for the handouts. The majority of homeless choose to be, rather than make something happen for themselves. Why would someone live day after day after day on the street? Nothing changes without effort. Living day to day, handout to handout, doesn't change the situation. Thus, the choice is made to panhandle, to live off the taxpayer, rather than try to make their situation better. Santa Rosa JC offers cheap unit costs and many programs that lead to gainful employment. In regards to education, there are (shockingly) many taxpayer funded programs. Why aren't these taken advantage of?”

THE MCN CHAT LINE seems crazier and crazier. Today, there was earnest back and forth about whether or not Michelle Obama is a woman! And long, errant discussions of the perils of vaccination without which, I daresay, some of the posters would not have survived childhood. Of course public tragedies like Orlando are "false flag" events pulled off by the "shadow government." MCN presents an entirely alternate universe of crazy assumptions and crazier talk. Our supervisor, Dan Hamburg, has contributed some of the looniest conspiracy theories  to his MCN family — 9-11 was faked and one plane of hijacked Americans is hidden away somewhere with everyone still alive — but Dan gets a lot of his information from uber-nut Alex Jones of INFOWARS. Only in the 5th District of Mendocino County could a guy as far removed from reality as Hamburg be elected to office. (If you google Hamburg and Alex Jones you can see the two paranoids in red hot discussion.) It's kind of unsettling, actually, to hear and read crazy talk to the degree we do in this country. But in Mendocino County we elect nuts and often give them radio shows on our public radio station. I'm assuming nuts are still recognized as nuts outside California.

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