WOODHOUSE WON'T BE BACK. Noticeably absent from the local celebration of the Willits Bypass last Saturday was Third District Supervisor Tom Woodhouse. One of the biggest moments in Willits history and no County supervisor from Willits. And absolutely no mention of Woodhouse. It was as if he doesn’t exist. Attendees were unsure how many among the 250 or so people on hand were aware of yet another sad, and frightening twist in the Woodhouse saga. On Friday night (October 28), Woodhouse apparently suffered yet another psychotic snap. A taser was finally used by a sheriff’s deputy to subdue him at the family home. Woodhouse was naked, and had a hold on his wife when the decision was made to take him on an “electric ride.” Woodhouse has been hospitalized three times in recent months for his bipolar-driven episodes. He convinces folks he’s okay, walks out the door and then apparently stops taking his meds. Woodhouse’s prolonged personal problems are raising serious questions about just how long the Third District will be without representation on the Board of Supervisors. It seems unlikely Woodhouse might resign, given his mental state and the reality that his county board paycheck and medical benefits are needed by him and his family. It’s clear Woodhouse is not likely to return to the Board of Supervisors.
MENDOCINO COUNTY is well-represented at the Dakota pipeline protests with perhaps as many as 60 locals making the journey, many of them from the Round Valley Indian Tribes, the Manchester Band of Pomo and a number of individual pale faced sympaticos.
OF COURSE THEY DO…Headline from the Press Democrat last week: “Wine Industry Wants Greater Say in Groundwater Regulation. An arrangement that would give wine and farming interests an advisory role — and not a voting seat — on groundwater regulation has prompted pushback from agricultural representatives…”
THE GUALALA PROPERTY at 40495 Old Stage Road has been interesting to watch. It is owned by Joseph Cullen who has been popped several times over the years for possession of drugs. The place is referred to as "The Boat House" as it has a 30 plus-foot sailboat down by two double-wides on a lot not permitted for that kind of crowded occupancy.
SEVERAL YEARS AGO, the owner, presumably Cullen, installed a galvanized sheet metal fence and roped the whole place in so no one could see what was going on. The county, with help from the Sonoma County Sheriff and Mendo deputy Greg Stefani, went in and pulled the fence down and removed abandoned cars and all sorts of hazmat-quality debris at a cost to the county of more than $100,000 with a caveat that the guy clean up the rest of the property and pay his dues.
AIN'T HAPPENING. The Cullen compound tweekers have rebounded, accumulating more junk out in the entry way. What neighbors want to know is how did the county provide for the costs in the original clean up, and why is the situation unchanged? “It would make a difference,” says a nearby property owner, “in the neighborhood if the shitstorm down there would become long gone. Nobody seems to care, and we have the walking dead around here all the time (the other day one of their inhabitants was 'cleaning the forest floor' while smoking a cigarette). They don't steal from us, but what kind of accounting is due from the county in this rural area? I bet Hamburg [Supervisor Hamburg] is not even aware of the money spent so far to clean up this mess. More and more vehicles with flat tires, bent metal works and broken windows appear on the site. I have not contacted the respectable Tom Allman on it, but you know, I should not have to. Get this shit out of here ASAP!"
COMMENT FROM Kaye Handley, candidate for Coast Hospital Board: Our hospital's combined percentage of MediCare/MediCal revenues is about 80%. this is not unusual for rural hospitals who face aging populations. There are examples of similar hospitals who have been successful in generating small operating profits and enough cash flow to maintain their facilities and equipment in top condition. Our hospital can be eligible for additional federal reimbursement. funds for Med-Cal patients if we change to private or non-profit ownership. I also believe there a some cost saving initiatives we can consider. I'd like to see the board move forward to explore the potential change in ownership structure and also reach out to selected other rural hospitals in northern Cal. to discuss any of their approaches which could be applied to MCDH. Base on prior discussions I've had with three other administrators I believe we can do better with our existing payer mix.”
A CALLER reminds us that the County’s trash czar and Mendocino County’s most interesting man, the thoroughly re-invented Mike Sweeney, officially retired from his czar-ship in September. “A very nice lady runs it now,” the caller said. “Nice” isn’t a term known to be applied often or ever to Sweeney outside his immediate family, although I suspect even they trod lightly around their explosive patriarch. But the former Maoist probably retired only in the Mendo sense, meaning he’s siphoning public money from somewhere for some nebulous “consulting” while he waits for his $5 million transfer station to open near Fort Bragg. Sweeney’s first in line to operate the unneeded and entirely redundant facility.
COFFEE SHOP STALKER. There's a Peets near where I live in San Anselmo. I live in Marin on an average of three days a week, Boonville the rest of the time. How I got to SA is a short but still boring story. (If you send me a self-addressed envelope and five dollars I'll tell you.) It's quiet. Sepulchral, you could say. In the morning, people leave for work. In the late afternoon they come back. Between 8 and 5 Mexicans arrive to do a lot of heavy lifting. All my neighbors drive big cars and their kids all wear helmets. In a few years they’ll probably be togged out in full body armor. Marin has a reputation as an enclave of the rich, but it's my observation, at least in my area that everyone leaves in the morning for jobs they have to go to to support themselves, just like everyone else everywhere. The houses are modest, among them a lot of Prop 13 properties, meaning the son or daughter inherited them and can stay in them because property taxes have been frozen at 3% of their 1978 value. When I was a kid, they went for about 20k. Young families buying in now pay a million dollars for these three bedroom, two bath houses on small lots. The young families vie for them because the public schools are good, or are assumed to be good. But just like in San Francisco, the truly wealthy in Marin send their children to private schools. Peets is an easy walk at a little over a mile away at the Red Hill Shopping Center, which is not high end retail. The anchor store is a Safeway. There's a cat rescue operation and a chicken pot pie shop. The high end shopping centers are in Corte Madera. Sometimes I'm at Peets when the schools let out. As in Boonville and, I guess everywhere, young girls of high school age, are improperly dressed for school. (You’re soooooo judgmental, you… you… you man from another time.) It's as if Madonna or some other media siren has dressed these girls for, of all things, a day of learning. The judgmental old man observes, "In my day girls who dressed in see-through outfits would have been arrested, not that anybody did dress like that or even wanted to. What are parents of these 2016 girls thinking? I didn't let my daughter look like this even when she was inside the house, let alone out the door anywhere. How can adolescent boys even begin to sit still surrounded by all these half-clad nymphs?" Then you see the parents ordering their decaf fol de rols and you understand that the parents aren't thinking. They look and act like keen teens themselves, a lot of them. So, I'm sitting in Peets waiting for a friend to show up, thinking dark thoughts about where all this mindlessness and vulgar display is taking us when he shows up carrying a magazine. "Gimmee that thing, son. Let me see what you're reading.” The cover says it's "The Bay Area's magazine for conscious community since 1974." Seriously, do you know any person who can un-ironically deploy the word “consciousness?” The cover promises "Starhawk's ecofeminisn; and gender healing as a path to the beloved; and the inner patriarch — an invisible force holding women back." I'm sure I'd qualify as inner and outer patriarch with strong phallocratic tendencies. I snarl at my pal, "You're not seriously reading this are you?" Friend said he grabbed it off the free rack for something to read in case I was late. We discuss the prevailing narcissism in which these Common Ground charlatans thrive, "Up in Mendo," I say, "our local radio station has several programs a week with these ninnies rattling on. There must be armies of them out there." "There are," Pal says, "and Marin is world headquarters." He asks me if I've voted. "Yep. You betchum. I'm with the proud One Percent who have voted for Jill Stein." At which the guy at the table next to us, a passo-aggresso grin on his face, pipes up like we've invited his opinion and launches into a monologue about how the Clintons have been crooks all the way back to Arkansas, how they murdered Vince Foster and on and on through the nutball catechism we've all heard a million times, and not only from the outpatient types. When Mr. Buttinski is out of Clintonia and has segued to 9-11 conspiracies, I watch him comb his greasy hair straight down into his coffee. I whisper to my friend, "You should never sit inside a coffee shop. Too easy for the chronophages to trap you." Wherever I'm accosted by strangers — at coffee shops or on the bus or just sitting somewhere minding my manners, primary among them the one me dear old mum drilled into me — Don’t be a pest — I can't help but notice that as I age I’m waylaid more and more often by strangers. When it happens I usually pretend I'm deaf. Or I grin back like maybe I'm nuts myself. But the persistent, like Mr. Dandruff-In-His Peets don't care. All they need is a more or less human body to talk at. And they're everywhere. I finally broke into our neighbor’s filibuster, talking right over him. Brandishing the rumpled copy of Common Ground, I say, "Dude, on page 64 of this absolutely essential publication there's a wonderful article about a lady offering 'visionary re-mothering for unmothered women and men.' You might find it useful, helpful even." For the first time in many whole minutes he’d stopped talking. He looked from me to my friend, back to me, trying real hard to assess us. "I'm not into that bullshit," he finally said, and he got up and left. Common Ground. The best pest control since tasers. Don't go out in public without one.
SPENDING MILLIONS to Not Solve Homeless Problem, writes Tommy Wayne Kramer in Sunday’s Ukiah Daily Journal: “It’s election time so it was inevitable that someone like Mike McGuire (D-Self) would show up to brag about how he’s curing Ukiah’s homeless problem a million dollars at a time.
He was here last week shoveling taxpayer money around, and from the way he was bragging about it you’d think he was giving us his money instead of our own. Homeless shelters. As if. Part of the problem is that the people who come up with these “solutions” to various social ills only stay around long enough to make a few headlines and get their pictures in the papers. Then they go home. Mike McGuire and Jim Wood and all the other phony elites who keep telling us they’re making things better are lying to us and kidding themselves. The people with the plans and the programs aren’t the people who have to live among the wreckage they produce and then casually leave behind. It’s easy for the political class to drop a homeless shelter into a Ukiah neighborhood and then go back to Sacramento. The homeless issue isn’t going to be solved in Ukiah by building free motel units for wandering lazy drunks and burnt-out thieving druggies. All McGuire and his cohorts are doing is providing more high-paying jobs for people who run these agencies and shelters, and creating more warm, welcoming nests for drifters to congregate. Throw in free catered meals and an open bar and yeah, I guess you’d say the homeless situation was being cured, so long as you kept building more motel units and kept hiring chefs and bartenders. Spending money on problems is not the same as solving problems.”
GRATIFYING THAT NURSES aren't jumping on the Hillary bandwagon. The California Nurse's Association endorsed Nader in 2000 because, as Nurse Idelson, their spokesman put it, “He embodies the same values our nurses do: single-payer health care — and boy do we need that now — curbing the enormous power of Wall Street and corporate America over the lives of working people, economic justice, a humane foreign policy, and so much more.” Same-Same in 2016. The nurses seem poised to support Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for president.
DEPT OF HOLLOW LAUGHTER: Corporate media's description of the FBI as non-partisan. Har de har. The G-Men have been interfering with the political life of the country ever since J. Edgar Cross-Dresser. The FBI even kept track of the editor of this fine publication back in the day, and I’m sure such Mendo notables such as Jeff Blankfort, among many others, were also awarded these reverse honorary degrees
TOMMY CHONG LIGHTS UP MENDO! The faltering campaign for Measure AF got a boost (of sorts) with Tommy Chong's recent endorsement. Chong, with stoner pal Cheech Marin, formed the iconic comedy duo of Cheech and Chong. They became rich and famous with their self-parody of stoner culture. Measure AF, the so-called Heritage Initiative, is the stoner community attempt to write their own rules for the local marijuana industry.
THE CHONG ENDORSEMENT is featured in a video posted to the yes on AF Facebook page. The video is not posted to the yes on AF website. Sarah Bodnar, the thirty something campaign manager of yes on AF, may think younger, hipper people will see the video on Facebook. But doesn't want to offend old squares who are more likely to click on the website. The video comes across as a continuation of the self-parody that made Chong famous.
PART TIME Anderson Valley resident Christopher Halmo is featured in the video. Set to a mellow reggae beat, the video opens with Chong looking just a little stoned and squinting at a piece of paper. He asks, "What is this?" Halmo says, "Ballot Measure AF in Mendocino County." Chong breaks in with, "Ballot measure for what?" Halmo repeats, "Ballot measure in Mendocino County." Chong asks, "For this election comin'?" Halmo responds, "Yes for November 8." Chong repeats, "November 8?" Halmo assures him, "That's right!" And so it goes.
AS HALMO PARROTS that AF is all about protecting the small farmer from big ag, we see images of yes on AF proponents Swami Chaitanya, Casey O'Neill, Justin Calvino, and Tim Blake tending their marijuana plants. Chong asks, "These guys all grow pot?" Halmo confirms they do. Chong asks, "So a lotta them been in jail?" Halmo confirms they have. Chong, who is promoting a line of vaporizers, finally gets to the punchline: "So buy Chong's Choice Herbalizer and we'll donate a big portion of the proceeds to make sure this initiative passes. Vote yes on AF."
CHONG HAS ALREADY kicked in $10,000, bringing the yes on AF campaign donations to over $65,000. Chong's contribution is generous, but at $729 for each Chong's Choice Herbalizer, it shouldn't take long for Tommy to make it back. Meanwhile, the No on AF committee reports having raised just over $20,000. But, as discussed below, has made more effective use of their available funds. But why is Tommy Chong endorsing and funding a local ballot measure in Mendocino County?
HALMO IS THE FOUNDER and owner of Casa Giallo, an ad agency in Venice Beach. CG, as it is known, has done advertising for major brands and celebrities for over 20 years. Projects have included everything from Adidas to Snoop Dogg to the US Army. Halmo was also one of the speakers at the lightly attended Anderson Valley "town hall" for yes on AF. A promo for the town hall describes Halmo as a third generation farm owner in Anderson Valley and says he "is currently focused on telling stories in the emerging cannabis industry."
THE TOWN HALL PROMO touts Halmo as "Ambassador to the Anderson Valley Appellation and a bridge between the cultures and markets of northern and southern California." Halmo is also a wine guy, so it isn't clear if he is an ambassador for weed, wine, or both. He is the vineyard chair of the Bel Air Wine Festival and hosts a monthly wine tasting in L.A. called Veni, Vidi, Vino. Halmo was joined at the Anderson Valley town hall by another wine guy, Tom Rodrigues of Maple Creek Winery in Yorkville. Rodrigues and Richard Willoughby, president of the Winegrowers Alliance, are on the short list of non-cannabis types who are publicly supporting Measure AF.
CASA GIALLO AND CHONG have been business partners for some time. In July of last year Fast Funds Financial Corporation (FFFC) issued a press release announcing CG had been retained as the "creative agency" for the Tommy Chong Green Card. The Chong card, according to the press release, is a pre-paid "loyalty debit card with turnkey customer rewards technology which also functions as a reloadable stored value card that can be used at the participating dispensary." FFFC is a holding company, with several wholly owned subsidiaries, all seeking to cash in on the expanding cannabis market. Cannabis Merchant Financial Solutions (one of the subsidiaries) is licensed to market the Chong card.
HALMO, PRESIDENT OF CASA GIALLO, is quoted in the press release saying "Fast Funds is creating financial solutions vital to maintaining the cannabis industrys (sic) explosive growth. We are excited to continue our work with Tommy Chong and his licensed product lines." CG is described as "an industry leader in the cannabis space" and was chosen for their "breadth of advertising experience combined with cannabis industry intelligence." Not to mention they were already representing Chong.
SO CASA GIALLO and Halmo are paid to promote the Chong card; the holding company trades on Chong's name; the venture capitalists behind the company hope for a return on their investment; the dispensary has a turnkey marketing tool; and the customer feels a connection to a stoner legend. And Chong gets a piece of the action. Dr. William Courtney, (formerly of Mendocino County) and "several private farms in the famed Emerald Triangle" are also on the CG client list. Those private farms most likely include the ones run by Swami, Calvino, O'Neill, and Blake. Which is why Halmo just happened to have footage of them handy to include in the Chong endorsement.
PETER HECHT, writing in the Sacramento Bee on Oct. 18, 2015 (just after Governor Brown signed legislation putting medical marijuana on an unabashedly commercial basis) quoted Sonoma County attorney Omar Figueroa as saying "You're going to see the emergence of a California medical marijuana commodities market. Investors will be coming in and betting on the future price of marijuana. There is going to be a full-blown marijuana casino." Figueroa, described in the article as representing marijuana dispensaries and venture capitalists added, "I'm a little wistful. There was romanticism in the peaceful cannabis growers rebelling against conformity. Now the suits are coming in and taking over."
THE ENDORSEMENT BY CHONG and the large cash contribution reinforce the fact that Measure AF is supported almost exclusively by self-interested individuals and companies with a financial stake in the state sanctioned commercial pot industry. Meanwhile, the No on Measure AF committee has endorsements from over two dozen local community groups including the Fire Chiefs Association, the Fire Safe Council, the County School Board, the Sierra Club and the Willits Environmental Center. Just about every group that has considered AF has turned thumbs down on it. Only a handful of cannabis centric groups are recommending a yes vote on AF, including the local chapter of the California Growers Association, the Small Farmers Association, and the newly incorporated Mendocino Cannabis Industry Association (which includes Swami, Blake, O'Neill and other proponents of AF).
THE EMERALD CUP website features a letter from founder and impresario Tim Blake who touts the rosy future of commercial cannabis in California. Blake says the Cali industry is bigger than Colorado, Washington, Michigan and several other states combined. (Which implies the obvious, which is that lots of California grown pot gets exported to the rest of the nation.) Blake says 2015 was a record harvest in the Emerald Triangle and many growers feared they would be sitting on unsold product this summer. Instead, Blake says the availability of pot is the scarcest it has been in 20 years. Blake reports that weed buyers "are scouring the hills looking for pot and coming up empty." Blake concludes "its clear our industry will only grow and grow for the next decade."
WHICH IS WHY BLAKE, and the other growers pushing Measure AF, want to be able to grow at least an acre of pot. Swami recently lectured the Board of Supervisors on the economics of pot. Swami said that a conservative yield was two pounds per plant. A 99 plant grow (the largest currently allowed under the County's urgency ordinance) would yield about 200 pounds of finished pot. Quoting a price of $1,500 per pound, Swami calculated each of the permits issued by the county this year would yield a wholesale return of $300,000. Multiply that by 330 permits and you get $99,000,000. Swami's point was this is a lucrative market for the county to start tapping into by applying the tax in Measure AF. Even at the low ball figure of 2.5%, the tax in AF (if its collectible - Treasurer/Tax Collector Shari Schapmire says it is not) would pump about $2.5 million into the county coffers. An acre of pot, using Swami's calculations, would increase the per grower return from a paltry $300,000 to just over $1.4 million. And the tax revenue from the same 330 permits issued this year would yield just over $10 million if every farmer grew an acre."
MEASURE AF (aka the Heritage Initiative) was conceived of by Blake, dispensary owner Jude Thilman, and growers Noel Manners, Justin Calvino, and Pebbles Trippet, who appointed themselves to the steering committee for the initiative. Blake is the founder and impresario of the Emerald Cup which started at Area 101 north of Laytonville and relocated to the Sonoma County fairgrounds a couple of years ago. Blake, like most growers, says he has no money but the Emerald Cup sold 30,000 tickets last year. This year the cup will expand to take over the entire Sonoma County fairgrounds.
SWAMI, proprietor of the 'Swami Select' brand, is a wealthy white guy from San Francisco who moved to Mendo and began wearing white robes and putting a red dot on his forehead. Welcome to Mendoland, where (as we must constantly remind our readers) you are whoever you say you are and history begins anew with each rising sun. Swami and Blake go back at least to the start of the Emerald Cup, where Swami has been a judge from the beginning. The primary duty of Emerald Cup judges is to personally sample each entry. This means Swami and the other judges must spend several weeks before the Cup smoking hundreds of samples to identify the winning entry. We are told there are You Tube videos of Swami and Blake smoking the sacred herb and talking incoherently. Only hard core stoners find value in listening to other stoners who are under the influence.
THE SAME GROUP of growers and dispensary owners wrote an earlier version of the Heritage Initiative in 2015 but failed to get it on the ballot. They came to the realization that they lacked the expertise to write a credible ordinance. And the time to collect enough signatures to put it on the ballot. They turned to Omar Figueroa, a prominent marijuana defense attorney, to write the initiative. And used paid signature gatherers to put it on the ballot. Bodnar, the campaign manager for AF, has developed an after the fact story line that says the Heritage Initiative came out of a broad based process involving all segments of the community, including the Board of Supervisors. Except no one outside the stoner community remembers it that way. The Heritage Initiative, now known as Measure AF, first came to general public awareness in August when it was certified for the November ballot.
MEASURE AF IS OPPOSED by an odd couple combination of former cult communist turned garbage czar Mike Sweeney; Ukiah industrialist and Libertarian mainstay Ross Liberty; former Third District Supervisor and It's A Beautiful Day lead guitarist Hal Wagenet; environmental activist Ellen Drell; Second District County Supervisor John McCowen; and Willits attorney Chris Neary. When these individuals aren't working to defeat the stoner takeover of Mendoland they are fighting each other over the Willits bypass, asphalt plants, and whether the county is complying with CEQA with its own marijuana regulations. And they all have decades of local political experience, sometimes as allies and sometimes as opponents.
SARAH BODNAR, a relative newcomer to the county, with no previous political experience, was hired to be the yes on AF campaign manager. Bodnar is smart, personable and tuned into social media. She also went to high school with AF proponent Justin Calvino and moved to Mendoland at about the same time. Which seems to be the key to getting herself hired as campaign manager. Bodnar seems to be relying on her social networking skills to carry the day for AF. But when it came time for lining up community endorsements, Bodnar was seriously outflanked by the politically savvy veterans running the No on AF campaign. Ellen Drell was particularly effective in lining up support from the Sierra Club and other environmental groups and in making the case that AF is a threat to the environment.
SO FAR, BODNAR has spent about two-thirds of the reported yes on AF campaign money on political consulting and professional services. Bodnar reported paying herself $20,525 through the previous reporting period (that ended Sept. 24) but shows no additional payments to herself for the last reporting period (which ended Oct. 22). She also paid a quartet of her friends a total of over $10,000 for "campaign consulting" and "professional services" but their qualifications in those categories, if any, are unknown. And according to the latest campaign filing, Jason Teramoto of Henderson, Nevada was also paid $6,000 for campaign consulting.
THE YES ON AF CAMPAIGN has been criticized for running a nearly invisible campaign with most of the payments going to people for nebulous tasks like campaign consulting instead of direct advertising. But the yes on AF campaign finally got off the ground with a few radio ads. Set to elevator music, none of the speakers say who they are, but variously identify themselves as a local business owner and grower; a long time resident; and someone who was lucky enough to grow up here. One emphasizes that AF will protect forests and watersheds and our local economy and raise tax revenues for public safety and to clean up trespass grows. Another says AF will protect small local farms and will apply the tax revenue to roads, mental health and volunteer fire departments. The last one emphasizes that the tax revenue will not go just for protecting the environment, public safety and mental health, but will also support our libraries, schools, and recreation.
THE NO ON AF COMMITTEE quickly countered with radio ads of their own. The first features Ellen Drell, who introduces herself as a founder of the Willits Environmental Center. Ellen speaks passionately about her love of the environment, says she knows what it takes to defend it, and that is why she is voting no on Measure AF. A second spot features the very recognizable voices of Drell and Wagenet listing the categories of community groups endorsing No on AF and then reading the names of the individual groups. McCowen also cut a hard hitting radio spot that criticizes AF for endangering public safety and the environment. McCowen also points out that the tax would be uncollectible and concludes that AF "is bad public policy, bad for the environment, and bad for public safety."
YES ON AF talks a lot about protecting the small farmer, but connecting the yes on AF campaign dots tells a different story. The growers and dispensary owners pushing AF are closely intertwined with lawyers, venture capitalists, and a powerhouse advertising agency. And they have formed alliances with the wine guys who have the land and water to accommodate larger grows. The only thing lacking is local authorization to grow up to an acre of pot. Which is where Measure AF comes in. Despite all the lip service given to protecting the small farmer, AF is really all about the largest and best positioned growers being able to capitalize on the state approved expanded commercial marijuana market. Voter approval of adult use legalization will be the icing on the AF cake.
WHAT HAPPENS IF AF FAILS? The County will continue working on adoption of its own updated ordinance, currently undergoing environmental review. Which means everyone, including neighborhood groups, environmental groups, and resource agencies will be able to comment on the regulations and challenge them if they don't protect public safety and the environment. If AF passes there will be no environmental review process and no ability to identify or mitigate negative impacts. If AF fails Mendo growers will be limited, at least initially, to 10,000 square feet of canopy. Which is a four fold increase from the current limit and plenty for most mom and pop growers. Anyone who really thinks they need to grow an acre can always move to Humboldt County. And Tommy Chong will still be selling Chong's Choice Herbalizers to anyone who is interested.
A READER WRITES: "Contrary to your report, Second District Supervisor John McCowen was present, and even spoke, at the Dinner on the Bypass held by the Willits Chamber of Commerce. McCowen kept it short, giving credit to former Supervisor John Pinches for keeping his eye on the bypass project. He also made the point that whether you love the bypass, hate the bypass or are indifferent to it, now is the time for the Willits community to come together and figure out how to move forward post bypass. He added that he knew there was concern about possible development at the north and south interchanges but assured the crowd that the Supes would not do anything without a community consensus about what was needed. He also made no mention of his missing in action colleague."