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Off the Record (Nov. 16, 2016)

MENDO COUNTY is dispatching eco-activists for North Dakota and the Standing Rock pipeline protests. One group left Ukiah on Saturday but is stranded in the literary town of Livingston, MT because their truck hit a deer, "about totaling it," according to a vague account reaching Mendocino County. Another group leaves Ukiah today. It includes Will Parrish of the AVA and Aaron 'Cob' Martin of the Anderson Valley.

THE STRANDED Mendo delegation wrote Monday: "Will — if you are en route and plan to take the northern route, please bear in mind the locals are saying SNOW is on its way by Tuesday night. You should be prepared with a 4wd and chains."

THE MESSAGE concluded with a notice of Monday's send-off rally at Wells Fargo, Ukiah: " We are having a send-off gathering tomorrow for Cob, Loren, Burl, and Will, who are taking a bunch of winter supplies to Standing Rock, many of which came from the November 6th 'Mendo Stands with Standing Rock' gathering in Redwood Valley." We understand about $10,000 cash-money was raised at the Redwood Valley event.

PARRISH explains why his group is rallying at Wells Fargo, Ukiah, before departing for North Dakota in this week's paper and at the CounterPunch website.

ELECTION NOTES. As we go to press in old fashioned print, Mendocino County’s ballots remain largely uncounted, a preposterous situation unique in the state with no resolution in sight.

IN NOVEMBER OF 2012 Mendocino County’s preliminary election night results were based on about 51% of about 36,400 votes cast.

IN JUNE OF 2016 the preliminary election night results were based on about 41% of about 37,800 votes cast.

SO FAR in November of 2016, the preliminary election night vote results are based on less than 14% of roughly 51,000 registered voters and maybe 18% of ballots cast. (The elections office has not provided the total number of votes cast on November 8, 2016, but prior general elections in presidential years have been in the 35,000 to 40,000 range.)

AS OF MIDNIGHT last Tuesday, with 9302 votes counted (18.23% of votes cast) out of 51,035 registered voters, it still looks like this a week later.

MEASURES AG/AH (the Sheriff’s Mental Health Facilities half-cent sales tax measure and accompanying enacting measure) is supported by over 60%, but still have a ways to go to meet the two-thirds vote requirement. (Note: the accompanying “enacting measure,” Measure AH, has a significantly lower level of support (61.13%) than Measure AG. So the question might become, What if AG somehow makes the two-thirds vote, but AH does not?

MEASURE AF, the pot growers initiative to make their own rules, is going down to defeat by a wide margin.

REFORM CANDIDATES Will Lee and Bernie Norvell have big leads in the Fort Bragg City Council race over Scott Menzies, preferred by Mayor Turner and City Manager Linda Ruffing.

COAST HOSPITAL BOARD CHAIR Tom Birdsell is running behind three non-incumbents.

THERE COULD BE A SQUEAKER for the Willits City Council third seat with incumbents Madge Strong and Bruce Burton plus Saprina Rodriguez who are all within 10 votes for the third seat behind the popular former Willits police chief, Gerry Gonzalez and newcomer Bill Barksdale.

THE FOLLOWING numbers are preliminary, based solely on the minority of walk-in votes case. All could change except the Sheriff’s planned psychiatric facility and the pot grower’s Measure AF. The Sheriff’s initiative, AG, has a strong shot at passing, the pot grower’s confused attempt to write their own rules in Mendocino County is on the way to being crushed, not trimmed.

Local Measures

AF, Pot Regulation/Heritage Act: Yes 3026 / No 5711

AG/AH, Mental Health Facility (requires 2/3 vote):

AG: Yes 5562 (63.18%) / No 3241 (36.82%)

AH: Yes 5304 (61.13%) / No 3372 (38.87%)

AI/AJ, County Pot Taxation:

AI: Yes 5585 (64.85%) / No 3027 (35.15%)

AJ: Yes 5963 (69.99%) / No 2557 (30.01%)

* * *

Fort Bragg City Council (2 seats):

Bernie Norvell 465

Scott Menzies 265

Will Lee 467

Curtis Bruchler 82

Rex Gressett 68

(Bruchler and Gressett had withdrawn a month prior to the election to support Norvell and Lee.)

Point Arena City Council

(3 full term seats):

*Richard Wasserman 60

*Scott Ignacio 71

Jane Jarlsberg 51

Sheryl "Lian" Smith 10

Jonathan Torrez 42

(2 Short Term Seats):

Anna Dobbins 44

Jim Koogle 38

Barbara Burkey 75

Willits City Council (3 full term seats):

*Bruce Burton 225

*Madge Strong 234

Bill Barksdale 269

Saprina Rodriguez 235

Gerardo "Gerry" Gonzalez 378

Coast Hospital

(2 Full Term):

*Thomas Birdsell 547

Steven Lund 694

Kaye Handley 602

Dr. Lucas W. Campos 690

(1 Short Term):

Tanya Smart 349

Dr. Kevin B. Miller 713

Patricia Jauregui-Darland 477

* = Incumbent

President (Mendo numbers):

Clinton: 59.36%

Trump: 31.28%

Johnson: 3.13%

Stein: 3.33%

AS OF 4pm Thursday, two days after the election, not a single Mendo vote had been counted since election night. More than 31,000 mail-in ballots have been received, but County Clerk Ranochak has only sent approximately 6,000 of them through the machines without releasing updated vote totals. Her office is covered in bins of ballots that haven't been opened yet. The 22,000 ballots received by Saturday should have been opened and counted by election night.

OUR SOURCE put it this way: “Ranochak needs 30 people working on mail-ins in the days before the election, not the eight she has. She needs more voting machines and more people there, too. I saw Supervisor Gjerde down there Monday and he said she has never asked for extra help. Better yet, re-open the polls. By law, every vote cast at a polling place has to be counted election night. End of problem."

A VISITOR to the Assessor’s office said that pending assessment work was being delayed because clerical workers from the Assessor’s Office (who also work for Ranochak) had been loaned to the Elections office. But our source for that suspected it wasn’t true because there didn’t seem to any improvement in the vote counting process.

MALCOLM MACDONALD COMMENTS: “In 2014 the total number of votes cast in the (final count) Fort Bragg City Council race was 4,729. The 2016 total (so far) is only 1,752. The 2014 race was for three council seats, 2016 is for two, so multiplying the 2014 total by 2/3 still means a final total of about 3,153. The 2014 FB Council race was a fairly high charged affair, but 2016 is a Presidential election year; therefore, one would expect roughly an equal or greater number of voters. Similarly there were 15,930 votes for three Mendocino Coast Healthcare seats in 2014. Though there are two four-year seats and one two-year seat up for election in 2016, that's still three seats. The total vote count should be somewhat similar, but there are only 7,225 votes accounted for at this point. Assessor-Recorder Ranochak's website has no updates beyond the two a.m. election night total AND no mention of estimated totals of votes still to be counted! There is a nonsensical column stating the number of precincts reporting, which states that in the Mendo Healthcare District fifty-nine out of fifty-nine precincts have reported. This falsely leads voters/citizens to believe that all the precincts, and all the votes, have been counted. If we hadn't had the nearly identical experience in 2014 to go by, citizens might be bamboozled into thinking this is the truly final vote count, when in reality it is nowhere near the final total. The simple question: What the heck is going on? That's the polite version. My advice to Ranochak: Finish this count, then offer your letter of resignation immediately thereafter. Advice to the Board of Supervisors: Find a way to deduct this recurring fiasco from Ranochak's pay and/r pension, then figure out a method for fixing this vote count fiasco before 2018.”

1,271 BALLOTS LEFT TO COUNT IN THE WILLITS CITY COUNCIL ELECTION: with only 627 votes counted in the "Final Election Night Report," at least 66.96 percent of the vote has not yet been counted! A higher percent than ever before. Plus an unknown number of provisional ballots (there are 1,160 provisional ballots countywide to "review and process." This according to a Saturday press release from Mendocino County Elections Office. “Our office is not open today (we are not answering phones), although we are here processing ballots and proceeding with our canvas procedures.”

THE ONLY ELECTION I can recall (and voter registrar Sue Ranochak can recall) that flipped actual results with the final, certified count was the 2014 Fort Bragg City Council election, where the Advocate-News reported Mayor Dave Turner was in fourth place, losing with "18 percent" (rounded figure), but with final results, Turner came in third, winning the third seat with 18.98 percent of the vote.

TO REPEAT: Why are so many ballots uncounted in the "Final Election Night Report"? Because floods of Mendocino County voters are dropping their ballots off at the polls on Election Day, and local voters are doing that because many of them were forced into "mail-in-only" precincts by the former registrar of voters when she, Marsha Wharff, closed most of the walk-in polling places in Mendocino County.

SUPERVISOR JOHN MCCOWEN, asked to comment on the glacial pace of Mendocino County election returns, had this to say: "Count me among those who believe the problem can best be addressed by increasing the number of traditional polling place voters and hiring extra help to process mail in ballots that arrive before election day. It is simply not in the public interest to count less than a third of the votes on election day and wait weeks for the final returns. Any issues involving cost, staffing, logistics, and security can be addressed if there is a willingness to do so. Any voter can vote by mail if they choose, but the thousands of voters who prefer voting at a neighborhood polling place on election day should have the option to do so."

MCCOWEN ALSO COMMENTED on the countywide ballot measures: "It was gratifying to see the voters strongly reject Measure AF, the so-called Heritage Initiative. Despite trailing with less than 35% of the vote, the yes on AF campaign team thinks it still has a chance — which just shows how out of touch they are. Thanks to the voters, the county process for adopting regulations that protect our communities and the environment will keep moving forward. And, unlike AF, the county ordinance will be subject to full community and environmental review. The draft ordinance is scheduled to be presented to the Planning Commission Dec. 1 for discussion, and Dec. 15 for possible action before going back to the Board of Supervisors for final review and possible adoption.

"MEASURE AG, with 65.19% of the votes so far, is still in the running. [Because the proceeds from AG are dedicated to a specific purpose, it requires a two-thirds vote to pass.] The mail in ballots and polling place votes that get counted on election day are broadly representative of the total vote, but there is one possible exception. [McCowen has been a close observer of local election results for decades.] Mail in ballots that get dropped off at polling places on election day, or that go in the mail at the last minute, have an overall tendency to trend slightly more to the liberal or progressive side of things. The corollary is that early vote by mail voters tend to be more conservative. Were there enough last minute voters who favor raising taxes for mental health facilities to put AG over the top? I'm not ready to say its a sure thing, but I believe the odds are much better than 50-50.

"ODDLY ENOUGH, Measure AH, the enacting clause for Measure AG is lagging behind with only 62.86% of the vote, probably too far behind to reach two-thirds. Some voters must not have understood that if they wanted AG to go into effect they also needed to vote for AH. What happens if AG gets two-thirds and AH does not? I don't know the answer, except that I believe the vote for AG would still be valid. In that case it may be possible to put an enacting clause on the ballot at the next election.

"MEASURE AI, the marijuana tax, and Measure AJ, the advisory measure passed easily. Because AI is a general tax, and can be spent for any county purpose, it only required 50% of the voters plus one. The advisory measure is non-binding but expresses the will of the voters to spend "a majority" of the revenue for marijuana regulation and enforcement, mental health services, repair of county roads and fire and emergency medical services, which are all underfunded, so any additional funds will be welcome."

MCCOWEN ADDED A PS objecting to speculation that he was a closet Trump supporter. "I voted for Sanders in the primary. I voted for Clinton in the final. I don't watch TV so the only political ad I saw was election eve when a friend showed me a Clinton ad on her phone. The image that stuck with me was of a young man of color with the caption: 'I'm voting against hate.' That's good enough for me. I don't think we know where Trump really stands on almost any issue but we know he appealed to the basest instincts of many people."

SCARY STORY OUT OF FORT BRAGG, as relayed by MendocinoSportsPlus, and one more example of a man driven delusional by methamphetamine: "I had a weird, scary thing happen in the 16000 block of Mitchell Creek Dr in Fort Bragg last night. It was 7:20, I was home with both my kids, in the middle of dinner. Suddenly my son said, what's that noise, mom? I look outside, there's someone with a flashlight in my driveway, yelling for help. So I open the door and ask him to identify himself. He does, and immediately asks me if I'm a zombie, too. I say no, and start to go back inside. He says prove that you're not a zombie by killing some of these zombies, there's zombies all over out here. I tell him to leave before I call the cops, he refuses. I lock the door. The cops are called. He hits the window in my door with his flashlight. I take the kids into their room, we stay there with the door locked for about 8 minutes, while I chat on Messenger with a friend; she lives around the corner and needed to know what was going on, plus it helped keep me calm. Sort of. Sheriff's deputies arrive after about ten minutes. They know the guy, and try to get him to put his hands behind his back, he declines, saying No, you can't touch me, you're zombies. He proceeds to swing a rock at the deputies. The two of them tackle him, get him handcuffed, and pat him down. After all that, the deputies tell me that he lives in my neighborhood. I've never seen him before. He was just arrested a few days ago. I just wonder, are there some extra bad drugs going around, or what? Everyone in the Mitchell Creek/ Simpson Lane area needs to keep an eye out for this creep, and keep doors and windows locked."


INTRODUCING ZOMBIE MAN. He’s John Elmer Strauss III, 50, of Fort Bragg. He was booked into the Mendocino County jail on a charge of “Perjury” on November 6, 2016. According to our booking records, Strauss’s prior arrests were all in 2008 when he was arrested three times for felony domestic assault, twice in July and once in November. We have no record of his arrest since that time until the November 6, 2016 perjury arrest.

And according to the Fort Bragg City Council meeting minutes, March 24, 2014: “… 3. John Strauss stated that he has taken advantage of many programs that are provided by the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center and read a statement supporting the Wellness Center. He stated that the staff of MCHC does a tremendous job and that by having a larger and more centralized facility they can use the space in a better way to provide essential services.”

A MENDOCINO BEACON obituary from Nov 11, 1939, indicates that John Strauss comes from an old-time North Coast family. ”John Strauss, well known resident of this place [Mendocino] and the Comptche section, was found dead in his garage on the southwest corner of Ukiah and Howard [in Mendocino] streets shortly before the noon hour Tuesday, as a result of a gunshot wound in the head. Death was instantaneous. His son's theory is that he had picked up the gun and brought it in to cut away the stock so that he could shoot it from his left shoulder because of poor vision in his right eye, and in drawing it toward him, the gun, which he frequently left loaded was discharged. After investigating, Deputy Coroner Ward Reis, pronounced it accidental death, as did Dr. Barcklow. His son Elmer Strauss was called home on Tuesday from Ten Mile Woods on receipt of the news of the death of his father. He will remain here over the weekend.”


COUNTY CEO Carmel J. Angelo, has announced the appointment of Richard Molinari as the County’s new Animal Shelter Manager.

MOLINARI comes to us from Las Vegas and has a law enforcement background, meaning he's unlikely to be an anthromorph, further meaning he is likely to be reality-based. But the guy better hunker down because the four-legg-eds at our dog and cat orphanage will be the least of his problems.

THE SHELTER is constantly under attack by a relentless posse of female cat and dog lovers. And, of course, the Mendo Shelter is No Kill, meaning it's perpetually overcrowded with un-adoptable animals as lady cat and dog lovers form irrational attachments to them. (I hasten to say I like cats and dogs myself, and you can ask Little Dog if you don't believe me.)

MOLINARI will be the Animal Shelter Manager, replacing Mary Jane Montana, the interim Shelter Manager, and will be in command over the eternal Sage Mountainfire who is past retirement age by nearly a decade and really ought to permanently retreat to her fire pit deep in the Coast Range. Molinari and Mountainfire will be an interesting collision, which we hope Molinari survives. The guy has our total support.

AN ANIMAL PERSON put it this way. "He looks like a toughie, what with the bald headed thing. Here's what I hope: that he will be strong and fair, compassionate but realistic. That he will be able to communicate with staff and the people who yammer on negatively, constantly. That he will be able to work with women! I hope he can either get a formidable foster program going, and be able to get rescues to take more dogs, or if that doesn't work to decrease the population, then I hope he can figure out a way to send off dogs who are not very adoptable without a giant and major freakout. I heard the other day that the shelter had over 100 cats (not all at the shelter, but yipes!)"

THE SHELTER used to euthanize the obviously unadoptables, and staff and volunteers did not go nuts when that occurred. And nobody went before the Supervisors to whine and scream and keep the Shelter under constant surveillance to the point of gathering all the information about dog arrivals and departures through the County’s public records request site, and in so doing, hamstring the Shelter.

AN ANIMAL SHELTER VETERAN WRITES: “When shelter dogs were euthanized in the past, I (and other volunteers at the time) did not make an ordeal out of it because I did not want to add to the already heartwrenching decisions that staff had to make. I witnessed first hand several euthanasias and wow, not an easy experience. But everyone involved was extremely respectful to the animals. There were several favorite dogs of mine who were sick and old and in pain, and the decision was made to PTS. I was allowed to participate, give the dogs a last walk and some steak, then hold the dog during the procedure. Maybe it sounds corny, but it felt good to be able to give them some love before they left. There were also a few decisions for euthanasia that I did not agree with. But instead of running to the supervisors or facebook to complain and blame, I would express my feelings—respectfully—and then get back to the work at hand. There is never a dearth of dogs or cats needing attention and interaction. No one volunteer has a corner on the market on compassion, caring, devotion, or energy. I meet so many people who have had good experiences at the shelter and adopted animals they love. That's the energy I've run on for the past 10-1/2 years. That, plus the realization that nothing is ever perfect.”

THE NATIONAL SNIVEL. I give it at least another week, acres of young people hugging each other and weeping. Suck it up, wimpos: Hillary lost because the Orange Meanie won, and she lost because she's the only registered Democrat in the entire country who could have lost to Orange Man. And she's a crook, and her husband is a rapist and a crook, and because she and her political party stand for absolutely nothing, and because she's clearly an extremely unpleasant person on a personal level. Not to be too harsh about it, but if you're crying because you thought Hillary was both a viable and an attractive candidate, you should see your doctor for a cognition check. Give it to Orange Man: In one election he’s wiped out the Clinton and the Bush dynasties. We owe him for that alone. And now? Let the serial catastrophes begin!

MY FAVE ELECTION crybaby was the guy I spotted in Marin last week. The entire back window of his SUV was covered with a small photo of Trump and these letters writ large: “WTF”.

I DROVE TO WILLITS on Tuesday to see the Bypass for myself, meeting my tour guide at the landmark Willits restaurant, Gribaldo's, where I enjoyed the largest and tastiest omelet I've ever seen, let alone consumed. Bypass or no Bypass, do not bypass Gribaldo's.

MY HOST was Jennifer Poole, veteran journalist who has labored at, among other papers, the San Jose Mercury News and the Ukiah Daily Journal. Jennifer’s brave start-up newspaper, the Willits Weekly, seems poised to out-compete the traditional town paper, the corporate-owned The Willits News, whose outside mothership is on life-support. I say "brave" because anyone who starts a print paper as print papers move on to museums is either brave or crazy, and Jennifer isn't crazy. The Willits Weekly is doing well.

MS. POOLE'S love for Willits, a civic monument to No Planning, borders on the unnatural, but if there's anyone in the sprawl of Little Lake Valley who loves it more.... They say that places belong to people who love them the most, and by that standard Willits belongs to Jennifer Poole.

STAGGERING out of Gribaldo's stuffed with enough calories for a week, and half of those in take-out styrofoam, Jennifer insisted on giving me a hurry-up tour of her town, as if I'd never been in Willits before.

DRIVING north on 101 earlier that morning, a thick tule fog obscured the roads up to the ridgetops. I wanted to get onto the Willits Bypass before fog burned off to see if the Bypass is likely to be as hazardous in all kinds of inclement weather as I've heard it is likely to be.

FROM GRIBALDO'S, the gourmand drove back south out of Willits to get on the Bypass. To get on or off Highway 20 to and from Fort Bragg you've also got to drive half-way through Willits, but Fort Bragg was never a consideration in Bypass planning.

IT WAS OBVIOUS, though, that lots of through traffic in Willits itself on Tuesday had been diverted onto the Bypass. Traffic was light, so light, as Jennifer pointed out, it was easy to get all the way across Willits' main drag which, of course, doubles as Highway 101. That harrowing journey was seldom possible in Willits, pre-Bypass.

TRUTH TO TELL, I like the Bypass. (Please don't tell the Crone's Marching Society I said that.) I liked it so much I wished I could have sailed on it all the way to Covelo, and maybe on up the Mina Road to Alderpoint, a trip that always takes me back to the beginnings of Mendocino County's catastrophic pale face history with Judge Hastings' murders in the Eden Valley. A trip to Covelo takes the traveler through a geography as blood-drenched as any in the United States.

BUT. Even though the tule fog had lifted by the time I pulled onto the Bypass at its southern end, when I reached the 1.1. mile-long viaduct stretch in the middle of the Bypass, it was clear that Caltrans has created a mile-long blood alley. There's a token margin on the viaduct but it's too narrow to accommodate most vehicles. To test it, I pulled over in the Silver Bullet (my Honda Civic) and it squeezed out of the northbound lane with maybe an inch to spare. A large vehicle won't be able to safely get out of either the south or northbound lanes. And there's no road divider. If the fog hadn't lifted, it would have been white knucks on that stretch. Even on a clear day, there are going to be some truly terrible head-ons on the viaduct. And a second disaster trying to get emergency vehicles to the vics.


WILLITS being franchised pretty much to the max, it seems to me a lot of businesses dependent on through traffic won't survive. Nor will any number of small businesses. Unlike Cloverdale, whose bypass coincided with a Del Webb development and new subdivisions at its south end, Cloverdale's town center remained small and coherent even during its traffic deluges. Willits has been strung out for miles since the Korean War.

INFLATED HYPE of the week from Willits city councilman Ron Ornstein as Willits debates whether or not to become Dope Town, USA: "A typical indoor grow would result in annual revenue of about $800 per square foot—that equals more than $17 million. So we're talking about some serious money here."

TERRY GREEN has been offered the job as KZYX’s new General Manager. He’s clearly a perfect fit for Mendocino County Public Radio. Green was General Manager of Santa Cruz’s public radio station KUSP until the Fall of 2015 when, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, “The general manager of struggling KUSP 88.9 FM was laid off at the end of the day Wednesday. For 12 years, Terry Green ran the public station that is now on the brink of bankruptcy. The station shoulders $280,000 in loan debt and $435,000 of unpaid bills to National Public Radio. With an annual budget of about $1 million, it operates at an annual loss of $150,000 to $200,000.” (Apparently there were the equivalent of ten full time staffers at KUSP at the time.)

AFTER GREEN was “laid off,” the station dumped its costly NRP-heavy programming, laid off most of its employees, and went to a young-adult music format hoping to cut costs and attract new members/listeners. They also asked the Santa Cruz area — known for its high percentage of wealthy libs — for an emergency donation of $300k so they could survive for another six months. But they got less than $100k in response and, a few months later, filed for bankruptcy. Now, KUSP is no more and has been sold.

JANE FUTCHER, a KZYX trustee, said Sunday that Green had not been hired. We understand, though, the manager position has been offered to him. He may well have been the only applicant given the station’s long history of manager-cide. What are up to now? Thirty in 25 years?

BERNIE SANDERS Friday in the Situation Room with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: “I don’t think it makes a whole lot of sense to do Monday morning quarterbacking right now. The election is over. Donald Trump won. Between you and me, Wolf, I would have loved to have had the opportunity to run against him, but that did not end up being the case.”

UH, BERNIE, you had the opportunity. You could have run against Trump. And Hillary. You could have done what any honest socialist would have done, especially an elderly socialist like you, you could have taken them on. But you turned around and embraced everything you said you opposed.

HAD HE NOT GONE QUIETLY, BERNIE would have been commie-bashed over what he claims his principles are, thus forcing a re-learning experience on the millions of Americans who once knew the difference between communists and socialists.

AMERICANS, until about 1960, knew the diff, but then....

WHICH REMINDS me of something funny I saw the other night while I watched a cable series called American Crime which, incidentally, I thought was pretty strong, and refreshing in its honest presentation of race, gender, drug, and lbgtqrstuvwxyz issues. (The young woman who plays the drug addict, Caitlin Gerard, is absolutely harrowing as a junkie. Best acting job I've seen this year.) Anyway, in Episode One, two Mexican-American guys are talking. One guy says, "Of course you'd say that because you're a communist," only to be promptly corrected by the other guy, "Socialist. I'm a socialist."

TWICE, right in Boonville, I've met older MMA's who easily made that distinction, probably because Mexico has a multi-party political system where socialists and communists are two distinct philosophical systems, often at odds, as they were all the way back to bolsheviks (Marxists-Leninists) and mensheviks (libs and Bernies).

AS A PATHETIC lib lab myself, and more pathetic by the day, I've always been partial to the menshevik perspective given the choice between the two because, as we saw in the Soviet Union, we had the Leninists basically saying to Russians, "You people are too goddam dumb and irresponsible to run this thing, so me and my friends will run it for you. Of course we'll require long black limos and dachas on the Black Sea much like the Czar's apparatus, but we're on your side. Trust us."

THE MENSHEVIKS were softer, and not nearly as ruthless as they needed to be to head off the Bolsheviks. They were the usual array of libs and socialists who thought societies could be improved by cracking down hard on the rich via taxation and reform rather than expropriation and execution, tempting as the latter option always is.

BERNIE'S presentations appealed to millions of Americans who didn't care what he called himself, but his statements of The Problem and his solutions resonated because they were correct, and they were correct because they resonated with so many people in the economic squeeze they find themselves in because of years of bi-partisan errand-running for the rich by both parties, the Clintons especially.

A LOT OF BERNERS wound up voting for Trump because they thought they heard the same thing Bernie was saying from Trump. The last time we had a Bernie-like regime was Franklin Roosevelt's, and something like 75% of Americans approved. If there's any salvaging of the great beast of American plutocracy it will look like FDR, not Trump. Trump's government will be a Reagan re-run economically — reduced taxes on the wealthy, who knows what monstrousness socially. Beyond the boorishness and the bluster, Trump's just another Republican.

MENDO’S POT COMMANDOES’ funding renewed. DEA will send the dough. “The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) works with local law enforcement agencies regarding illicit cannabis eradication activities on Federal lands within their jurisdiction. The funds are used to defray costs relating to the eradication and suppression of illicit cannabis. They are primarily intended for payment of deputies' overtime while those deputies are directly engaged in the illicit cannabis eradication process. The agreement runs from January 1, 2016, to September 30, 2016.

SEEMINGLY RANDOM numbers are a staple of Mendocino County reports to the Board of Supervisors: “28 miles of roads, 1231 clients, $370 million in the bank, 0.03% interest, 980 full time staff, six vote counters, 28,844 votes left to count, six more weeks, 92% success rate…”

WE MADE UP those numbers, but they’re as good as most of the figures that Official Mendo presents — always out of context, frequently strewn in with undefined terms like “visits,” “applications,” “helped,” “requests,” etc. The Supervisors never ask what the numbers mean or what the trends are. They keep no records. They let their presenters drone on meaninglessly for hours on end, saying nothing. Then they vote to “accept” the report. The entire Boardroom would erupt in outrage if a Supervisor ever violated niceness protocol by voting against “accepting” one of their meaningless departmental reports. (Actually, former Supervisor John Pinches did grumble once about a report from North Coast Opportunities and had to listen to another half an hour of more pseudo-explanatory gibberish from Supervisor Hamburg and the staffers as punishment for expressing skepticism).

IN THIS WEEK’S SUPERVISORS AGENDA we’re told that Redwood Quality Management Services — the County’s new Mental Health Services contractor (replacing the widely disparaged Ortner Management Group as of July 1) — has “served” 408 clients over the period from July 1 to September 30. The “service” was provided by RQMS’s subcontractors Manzanita Services which “served” 142 clients, the Coast Hospitality Center which “served” 70 clients, the Mendocino AIDS/Viral Hepatitis Network (MCAVHN) which “served” 26 clients, and Redwood Community Services (a subsidiary-ish subdivision of RQMS) which “served” 170 clients.

IS THAT GOOD? BAD? How many “clients” went “unserved” — i.e., delayed, disqualified or uninsured? Nothing. No numbers. The rest of this week’s Mental Health report doesn’t even bother to provide meaningless numbers. But we’re informed that Mental Health has “knitted together” a system of care and “expanded the capacity” and outpatient services. They have “collaborated” and “streamlined” and “supported consumers.” They are “dedicated.” They have expanded crisis services and outreach services; added a crisis residential program. They are “working collaboratively to expand the housing continuum” by addressing “the high cost of residential services.” They have identified the “need for local supportive living environments,” and “emergency, transitional and permanent living arrangements.” They are working on “other collaborative opportunities” with “new paths,” developing plans, “leveraging funding” including funds for the “whole person care pilot program” and the “National Stepping Up Initiative.” And on and on — the usual meaningless gibberish.

FOR FUN, we went back and looked at one of Ortner’s “reports” from June of last year. In Ortner’s “Access/Crisis Response” report they “serviced” 834 clients, 134 in “crisis” and 157 with “access.” 70 of them were even “billable.” Ortner also broke down their responses by response time and success at meeting arbitrary “goals.” The numbers didn’t even add up, not that it mattered or that anybody noticed.

BUT ORTNER allegedly “serviced” 834 clients while RQMS says they “serviced” only 408. By that measure Ortner was twice as good as RQMS. So what’s the problem? Why did Ortner have to go if they were servicing so many more clients?

OF COURSE the numbers mean nothing one way or the other. In fact, none of the reporting that Mendo does on anything means anything at all. Staff spends millions of dollars of taxpayer money and thousands of hours doing… something. Managers spend time managing and cranking out meaningless stats and buzzwords. But nobody has a clue whether any of it is doing any good. It’s kinda like President Eisenhower used to say about the CIA: “The only thing they’re really good at is spreading money around.”

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