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Valley People (March 22, 2017)

IN A VIRTUALLY secret big name bicycle event two Saturdays ago, the renowned Lance Armstrong and 275 pro bikers raced from Anderson Valley High School, west up Mountain View Road and on over to Point Arena, then east from Point Arena on Fish Rock Road and on back to the high school starting point. Armstrong came in second although his time was identical to that of winner, Justin Mauch. Winning time for the 72-mile loop? 3:56:33, which is about what it would take to drive that same route if one were moving right along. Kristen Vetterlein was first among the women competitors. Her time was 4:20. Amazing!

ARMSTRONG commented on Instagram: “Folks, lemme say some things. First, what a beautiful course that was unbelievably hard (9700 feet of climbing). And thank you to Justin Mauch for putting an absolute ass whoopin’ on this old man. Fun suffering with you, kid. Keep it us. Lastly, most people would see this challenge and be like, ‘Who the hell wants to do that?!’ Well, 300 people woke up today and exclaimed, ‘Wedu!’ Congrats to you all.”

CARLOS PEREZ, founder of BikeMonkey, organized the race. He said after he’d cycled Fish Rock he couldn’t get the idea of a bike race over it out of his mind.

NAVARRO WATCH: For all of the rain we've had this season we are not free from the effects of the drought yet. The steady, rather rapid, drop in the discharge rate of the Navarro River from 1200 cubic feet per second to 500 cfs this past week indicates that the aquifers have not been fully recharged. This flow rate is below the "median daily statistic" of 590 cu./ft. per sec. and well below the average of 1170 cu./ft. per sec. (David Severn)

THE SCHMITT FAMILY, of the Apple Farm Schmitts, lost a good acre to the raging Navarro in full rage a month ago. Yes, that's a significant loss, the largest we know of in the Anderson Valley this winter.

ADELE PHILLIPS was handling the controversial Blackbird Farm application for Planning and Building. She has resigned to take a position with the Ukiah City Planning Department. (Yes, Ukiah has planning. Why do you ask?) No word as yet about who will be picking up the Blackbird project in the wake of Ms. Phillip’s departure.

WE UNDERSTAND that some number of Blackbird public comments have been addressed in a revised permit package, but the entire application has been pushed back to May by the woefully understaffed Planning department. Several people at last week’s meeting of the Anderson Valley Community Services District, meeting said they hoped that Ms. Phillips’ replacement would be the daughter of long-time Elk resident and water expert Charlie Acker. Ms. Acker enjoys a solid reputation as a County Planner. But we heard late last Thursday that a new hire named Monique Gill will be assigned to the Blackbird file.

SPEAKING of Blackbird, a marauding bear has feasted on the farm’s chickens. The government trapper has been summoned.

BOONVILLE BIG BAND NOT FOOLIN ROUND. The Swingin' Boonville Big Band is performing At Eagles Hall in Fort Bragg on April Fools day. Music starts at seven and goes to ten. $15

AS AN ON AND OFF member of Mendocino County's kinda public radio station, based here in the wine bottle of the Anderson Valley at Philo, I re-upped recently because the new station manager, Jeffrey Parker, seems like a smart, capable guy. Lorraine Dechter, Parker's predecessor, struck me as a smart, capable gal. (Note to Women's Voices; Ms. Dechter is referred to here as 'gal' purely for alliterative purposes; no oinking diminishment intended.) But Ms. D. soon ran screaming in horrified terror at the mess she'd inherited, and we haven't seen or heard from her since. Parker has a major job ahead of him, and we don't envy him his task.

WE LISTENED to last night's candidate's presentations, and relay our impressions here, although The Major is more cynical about station prospects than I am, but only slightly. He often says if everyone presently involved with KZYX disappeared, the replacement parts would be essentially the same.

Candidates Forum at KZYX (L-R: Valerie Kim, Sako (back to camera), Minson, Hartley, Vaughan)

I THOUGHT John Sakowicz was clearly the best prepared and most knowledgeable candidate. Sako, as he's now known around the county, much as Madonna is known around the world, arrived at the Philo event lugging more baggage than, perhaps, any candidate for any office in county history. The guy's been sliced and diced more than a crate of canned beets, but seems unfazed by the deluge of criticism and abuse heaped on him for a wide range of his perceived deficits.

SAKO'S also very smart, articulate and absolutely correct about KZYX's murky finances, the station's bizarre enemies' list, created and nurtured for years by Mary "Her Hate Is Pure" Aigner, the station’s utter lack of a local focus, and the KZYX board's historical dysfunction, not to say, slack-jawed idiocy. Sako said that the station's finances must become transparent if it ever hopes to inspire confidence in its management, and that there should be a real effort at "truth and reconciliation," that the many locals banned from participation should be welcomed back into the station's historically treacherous embrace. If the institution, especially with Trump on the rampage, is to survive it's got to be competently managed, locally focused, interesting, welcoming. If new guy Parker manages all that, he will have wrought a minor miracle unseen since the station’s cynical origins.

SAKO'S OPPONENTS for the at-large board seat are Jenness Hartley, a young woman and relative newcomer to Mendocino County and its long-troubled public radio station. Ms. Harley is the incumbent. And with her, and unopposed candidate Minson, commences a severe cognitive dissonance. They don't see any probs, nowhere, no how and, therefore, perfectly fit Most Desired KZYX Trustee, the basic requirement being a practiced credulity and the personalization of all issues. In other words, if the critics would just shut up we could keep our smiley faces on and march on to bankruptcy in peace.

MS. HARTLEY is of course a shoo-in to retain her seat. Why? Because the KZYX membership, mostly, is like one of those hermaphroditic sea creatures that endlessly recreates itself. The membership, in lockstep, mostly thinks Sako is nuts, that critics are not either nice people or Nice People (as found and defined on Ukiah's highly evolved Westside neighborhood), that if everyone will simply think Correct Thoughts and cordon off Sako and the rest of the non-personed persons, everything will remain as is — simply swell.

WHICH ISN'T TO SAY Ms. Hartley is ill-intentioned, but it is to say she has managed, as a trustee, not to notice KZYX realities. Management and trustee irresponsibility is why the station is perpetually in crisis mode.

I THOUGHT Bob Vaughan offered lots of good ideas for strengthening the station and much appreciated his exasperated flashes of candor. He'd be an excellent trustee because he's clearly the kind of guy who speaks up. The only thing he said that I disagree with is that the non-personed persons, and there's a ton of them, were offed by the station because "they violated the rules." Nope. They were banned because Aig or Coate, or the long list of managers prior to Coate, didn't like them. Anybody critical of these outback autocrats, or the forever fumbling station itself, got the bounce. And the enemies list grew and grew.

MENDO PUBLIC RADIO'S founding father, Sean Donovan, structured his creation in a way that enables programmers to control it. Donovan rightly assumed that so long as the thumbsuckers can play their tunes, chat on-air to their friends about this and that, and go to bed satisfied that NPR is telling it like it is, programmers could care less about who their theoretical boss is. (I think all of them, and there's about 200, many of them apparently life-tenured, should pay a modest monthly stipend in return for their on-air slots. Twenty a month, say, and upped ten bucks every year.)

ANYWAY, Donovan stuffed his first board of directors with the malleable and the moronic, and then retroactively charged the station $28k for unilaterally forming Mendo Not So Public Radio. Donovan banned a bunch of people right outta the box purely out of personal dislike. Or jealously, as I suspect was the case with Marco McClean and Mitch Clogg, both of them media vets.

UNOPPOSED CANDIDATE LARRY MINSON seemed disoriented, but he did manage to make his way to Philo for the discussion. Listening to the poor guy wheeze through a few bewildered statements, I half expected EMT's to rush into the studio and begin survival protocols. Minson, of Willits, many of whose residents get their local audio news from KMUD or the Coast's A.M. stations, is clueless. Totally out of it, thus the perfect candidate to sit as trustee for this odd operation.

I'D SAY it's obvious what KZYX needs to survive, beginning with organizational candor. From there, and why this even needs to be said is an indication of the problem, there has to be a basic recognition that the station exists in a highly competitive media market. There are all kinds of new blogs focused solely on local matters, some of them quite good; there are existing newspapers that do solid reporting on local matters; there are A.M. radio stations that report local stuff — KOZT has done good local reporting for years — and, of course, there’s the daily deluge of electronic input from cyber-space. Mendo Public Radio has to go local and go smart. As is, there's zero reason to tune in. Vote Sako. He asks all the right questions.

WE UNDERSTAND that a key KZYXer's house burned down earlier in the week. Whose house is not known, but the sad event has discombobulated the Philo operation beyond its usual state of discombobulation. I called CalFire in Willits where, I learned, they keep no central roster of recent fire calls in the county. I was referred on to Coast CalFire where no one answered the phone. KZYX made their mysterious "emergency" announcement for two days without ever, so far as this drop-in listener heard, explaining the nature of the emergency.

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