WE ARE GRATIFIED to see Fifth District Supes candidate Dan Hamburg support a few things we've advocated for a long time. For example, at the recent candidates forum on the Coast Hamburg said, “I support cutting salaries 10% for every county employee earning $68,000 or more. Start with the supervisors and move up from there. That would save almost a million dollars.” Hamburg also says he’s for giving local businesses a bigger discount in county procurement, upping the discount from 5% to 10%. He also said he’d like to see every contract with an out-of-county source come before the board with an explanation as to why the product or service can’t be obtained locally. The fact that Hamburg is touting these proposals, and getting no opposition or disagreement as he goes, shows that he’s at least paying attention to practical things the County can do in the short term, not just piling on the blather about how much he loves the place, his passion for Mendocino County, or his wishful thinking about what would be nice for other people — not the Board of Supervisors — to do.
ASKED at the candidate's night in Mendocino: “We now have a supervisor we never see on the Coast. Three-quarters of the candidates do not live in the Mendocino area. How often do you envision visiting?” Candidate Norm de Vall replied, “I’ve had the great misfortune of having lived on the coast for 47 years,” drawing a laugh from the audience. Hamburg said he had become “accustomed to turning right to the west” when he leaves his Ukiah driveway for the Boonville Road. Hamburg then lathered up the Mendo people: “Mendocino is a crown jewel, the most beautiful, the most attractive town I’ve ever seen.” Candidate Wendy Roberts, who has just received the Farm Bureau's endorsement, remarked, “Some of my opponents keep wishing I would go away. But I do live there.” And candidate Mastin, who lives in Ukiah and is that town's former mayor, said he was thinking about setting up an office on the coast, promising that he will “show up for events.”
THE MOST SURPRISING answer to a question came from candidate Roberts who has previously said one of her priorities is getting treatment for the mentally ill instead of sending them to jail. When asked what the candidates would do about the lack of decent mental health care in the County, Ms. Roberts bluntly replied, “There’s no money. If someone has a family member who needs mental health services, I'd encourage them to move. The County can't handle it. And I don't see a solution to the problem in Mendocino County. Ever.”
SPEAKING of the Mendocino Town Plan which has gone un-updated for something like 20 years now, Mrs. Roberts said: “The Mendocino Town Plan is not a bad plan, but it’s not being enforced. There are illegal units in all categories. The County doesn't manage the licensing function. Vacation rentals are not approved and adopted.” (ergo, people are forced to operate illegally). “The result is the loss of tax revenue. Some houses in the town are in foreclosure and empty, so there’s no tax revenue.”
CANDIDATE NORM de VALL offered the following odd tidbit regarding economic development in the County. “I know of a Virginia company that sees hemlock as a growth opportunity to replace railroad ties to avoid using creosote. This company is interested in coming to the Masonite site in Ukiah. I introduced the company to our CEO. I hope the discussion continues.”
CANDIDATE HAMBURG said he was impressed at the “level of sophistication” of the kids in the Point Arena Charter School and their “understanding of the long range history of this county. The Native Americans lived here lightly on the land for thousands of years. Now the forests are lost. Most of the fish are gone. There’s very little opportunity for fisherpeople. The planet as a whole is in trouble. They knew about climate change and species extinction. They know that either change would come or things would be dire for them or their children or their grandchildren.” … “Because of my children I decided to do this [run for Supervisor].” Hamburg then described an encounter he had with Corbin Harney, the famous western Shoshone leader, on the Lost Coast a while back. Hamburg said that Harney thought that although there was a threat to the land, “almost amazingly people would start to get it, and understand that they may need a different way of relating, maybe in some ways the way it was done hundreds or thousands of years ago. We can still create a sustainable county and learn to be good stewards. Timber can come back. Fish can come back. We can localize. We can educate children. That's why I'm running.”
DA CANDIDATE David Eyster was the guest of KZYX’s Karen Ottoboni last Friday morning. Most of the interview was what you’d expect Eyster to say — that the DA’s office is dysfunctional, that the Office needs a trial attorney, not a manager to run it because it’s too expensive to pay two people for one job. But there were two noteworthy moments. The first was when a Boonville attorney called in in the apparent hope to put Eyster on the spot about how much money he made from the settlement in his case against his then-boss, DA Susan Massini. Eyster sued for wrongful termination. At the sound of the caller's voice, Eyster jauntily replied, “Hi Geraldine Rose, nice of you to call in!” Eyster then said that the settlement terms included a gag order prohibiting him from discussing specifics but had been awarded damages. In other words, Geraldine, he won. The other interesting moment came when Ottoboni asked Eyster about who was endorsing him. Eyster replied that he had been endorsed by the County Employees Union (SEIU) and that he had barely lost the endorsement vote of the Mendocino County Women’s Bar Association. The vote to endorse incumbent DA Meredith Lintott over Eyster was 12-11, said Eyster, but one of the 12 was Meredith Lintott's.
UKIAH ATTORNEY Ann Moorman seems daffier by the day. She explained why she was running for judge to the League of Women Voters last week. “I am running for judge because it is the right time in my life and in my career. After more than two decades of litigation experience, I want to use my energy and skills to give back to my community. Being a judicial officer is one of the highest forms of public service and my temperament, abilities and reputation make me the best suited for the position.”
A $180,000 A YEAR LIFE SINECURE is “giving back to the community”? I know arias to one's own wonderful self are common in Mendocino County, but when Moorman says she wants to be judge because “it is the right time in [her] life,” well, even solipsism has its limits.
IT GETS WORSE. “A judge,” Moorman says, “must ensure that everyone, whether it be the powerful or the oppressed, the loved or the maligned, the strong or the abused, receives this protection and is treated with respect. One must have the personal courage and the integrity, coupled with deep understanding of the law and the courtroom, to reach this level of competence.”
IN FACT, what goes on day in and day out in the County Courthouse is a fancy form of class warfare. The poor can count on getting legally screwed, defendants who can afford expensive private attorneys have a real good chance of walking free.
BUT THE CANDIDATE'S CAPPER was this one: Asked “What book have you read that made a tremendous impact on your life?” Ms. Moorman replied, “The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. A book about loyalty, love, family, and life and death from the perspective of a dog, narrated by Enzo, the family golden retriever.”
AS A CHILD of about eight, my first suspicion that a very large percentage of the people around me were totally batshit occurred when my parents dropped me and my sibs off at the theater to see a movie called “Bill and Coo.” It featured talking parakeets. It was a night showing which, in those days, meant the audience was mostly an adult audience, and the adults at this one howled throughout like it was the funniest thing they'd ever seen. A few years later, there was Francis The Talking Mule and then Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, all of it so unfunny it was painful. I'd be afraid to ask the rest of the County's judges what they're reading, but I think the sensible vote in this election for Judge of the Mendocino County Superior Court is the modest Caren Callahan.