- Curry Back
- Homeless Housing
- Pinot Weekend
- Bad Vibes
- Little Dog
- K9 Vest
- Yesterday's Catch
- Wayne Walker
- Arab Nato
- Goober Nation
- Ongoing Collapse
- AT&T Labor
- Infrastructure Funding
- Wildlife Management
- Ralph Radio
- Gualala Demonstration
- Roger Ailes
- FB Fires
- Sacto Demo
- Humco's Homeless
A SMALL EARTHQUAKE, magnitude 2.0, rattled downtown Boonville at about 2pm Friday. The single jolt did no damage but was certainly felt.
AG COMMISSIONER CURRY’S STATUS REMAINS UNCLEAR
INTERIM AG COMMISSIONER DIANE CURRY began the week in charge of the County Pot Cultivation Program but following a performance review by the Board of Supervisors on Monday she appeared to be out. Assistant Ag Commissioner Arif Kever appeared Tuesday before the Board of Supes to present an update on the Pot Program. Rumors swirled that Curry had either been demoted or resigned. As usual, everyone from the County declined to comment on a personnel matter. And isn't that a really great excuse to keep the public from knowing what is happening with their public dollars? It turns out that Curry sent an email to the Board on Monday saying she was stepping down.
Mendocino Ag Commissioner Diane Curry’s Letter To The Board of Supervisors, May 15, 2017:
Dear Members of the Board
After my evaluation today (Tuesday), it was clear to me that the Board lacks confidence in my ability to manage the County's Department of Agriculture, specifically the newly adopted Mendocino's Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance. I feel that it is probably in the best interests of the county that I step down as Interim Agricultural Commissioner effective immediately. I look forward to working with the new Commissioner/Sealer and thank the Board for giving me the opportunity. Please refer all questions regarding the cannabis program to the Assistant Commissioner/Sealer of cannabis, Arif Kever.
But as of Friday afternoon she appears to be back on board as the Interim Ag Commissioner.
Friday, May 19, 2017
Good Afternoon Supervisors,
The Department has just finished our second week of taking applications for the cultivation of medical cannabis. Currently, we have accepted 173 applications. I have attached a chart of the applications received by type.
Staff is learning a lot about all the different ways this plant can be grown. Angela Liebenberg from CDFW [California Department of Fish & Wildlife] was here Monday to review applications, but did not find any that would trigger a site visit from them. She would still like to accompany my staff on some site visits. My staff is working closely with Planning and Building staff on questions that arise. I appears that we will be conducting pre-site visits next week.
Next week I will be at the California Agricultural Commissioner and Sealer Association Spring Conference. I will be available by phone and email.
I am planning on providing regular updates to the Board, if you have any specific information you would like included on the update, please let me know.
Have a great weekend.
Interim Agricultural Commissioner
County of Mendocino
MONDAY'S EMAIL FROM CURRY (following the performance review) said it was clear to her the Supes lacked confidence in her ability to manage the Ag Department and the Pot Program and that it was best if she stepped down. Which explains her absence from the Supes meeting on Tuesday. But Friday afternoon she sent an email to the Supes updating them on the second week of accepting applications as if nothing had happened.
THE TOTAL NUMBER of pot applications turned in at the end of week two was 173, including two permits for indoor grows.
Only 13 applications were from growers seeking permits for 2,500 square feet of pot cultivation. There were 22 applications (including both indoor aps) from growers who want to grow up to 5,000 square feet of pot. And 129 applications from growers who want to grow 10,000 square feet of pot, the largest size allowed by the Mendo pot rules. (Humboldt allows up to an acre of pot.) There were also 17 "nursery" applications turned in. Which means there are growers who specialize in selling plant starts instead of harvesting mature plants. Kind of like the people who got rich selling gold mining pans instead of mining for gold themselves.
HOUSING PROJECT FOR MENTALLY ILL HOMELESS PROPOSED IN UKIAH
by Justine Frederiksen
The Ukiah City Council Wednesday approved hiring a consultant to help prepare the environmental review of a proposed housing development in Ukiah intended to serve the homeless mentally ill. The item was listed on the Consent Calendar for the May 17 meeting, and according to the staff report the project will be a “38-unit, multi-family housing facility (for) the seriously mentally ill who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.” The applicant is the Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation, “which requested the use of an outside consultant to complete the required California Environmental Quality Act analysis in order to expedite the entitlement process.”
City staff notes that this has been the process for other projects such as the Costco warehouse, and the applicant will “be billed on a cost recovery basis.” The contract approved May 17 by the City Council was for $12,650 to Marcus H. Bole & Associates.
Consultant Marcus H. Bole notes in his scope of work for the housing facility that it will have three two-story buildings with residences, the majority of them being “affordable studios.”
“The objective of the project is the development of permanent, affordable housing for tenants who are seriously mentally ill and homeless or at risk of becoming homeless (and therefore qualify for services under the California Medical Services Act),” Bole writes, describing Ukiah Valley and Mendocino County as experiencing a “dramatic rise in the presence of this population, (which drains community resources with) emergency room visits, police calls, public disturbances, panhandling, environmental degradation, etc.”
The proposed facility, Bole continues, enacts the “Housing First policy,” which he said has been demonstrated to be a cost-effective measure in resolving the severity of the community problem as well as to provide benefit to the tenants.”
Planning Manager Kevin Thompson said the project is scheduled to come before the Ukiah Planning Commission during a special meeting scheduled for May 31.
(Courtesy, The Ukiah Daily Journal)
Mitch Clogg wrote (Coast List Serve):
I feel your frustration with KZYX. Jim Heid doesn't. I don't remember whatever I've heard about him, but I take it he has enjoyed success, and I've felt his disapproval and dismissal of me. He appears to be a very establishment guy, with zero tolerance for boat-rockers.
You might recall Jim Heid wrote a couple of years ago against my crazy idea of paying airpeople as though what they do has value. They'd have to declare it on their taxes, and all that rigamarole, and who would want to have to go to the trouble? And can you imagine trying to get deejays to clock in and out? And all for a piddly amount of money. Not worth it. A bookkeeping nightmare for everyone involved, he wrote.
At KMFB every month I turned in my hours written on a piece of paper. That was the extent of any bookkeeping nightmare. The bookkeeper used a computer program that kept track of everything and printed checks. KMFB paid me about $2,500 a year, it was one of several part-time paying gigs (Mendocino Microcomputers, Mendocino Theater Company...), and I got a W2 form that added three minutes, if that, to doing my taxes. Granted, some of that money was for maintenance work, for example, being on call to drive for a temporary replacement transmitter or to fix a cooling fan in the transmitter shack or build a phone hybrid box or align the satellite dish or something, but most of it was regular hourly pay for my show and my 20-percent cut of the underwriting my show brought in.
Here's the experiment I suggested for KZYX: Give each of the airpeople a check for $1,000 for just last year's work, and then see how many of them go pshaw, who needs this? and tear it up, and see how many of them cash it and spend the money on gas or food or one month's rent. That's how you find out how popular getting even a piddly $80 extra per month is.
Speaking of underwriting, they're paying a guy in the office at KZYX like $30,000 or $40,000 a year to "coordinate business underwriting." They try to keep it a secret exactly how much they pay themselves in the office there, but if he brings in enough extra underwriting to even justify his own salary I'd be very surprised. Why not divide that money among the airpeople? It's their shows people are paying to hear, after all.
IF YOU wonder why so many up-market drinkers are wandering around the Anderson Valley this weekend, there's a celebration of the famous grape underway at our many wineries, hence all those heraldic purple banners you see strung along 128.
BAD VIBES seem on the increase. Purely anecdotal, of course, but bad traffic, bad feeling, bad manners all seem to be on the rise. A friend told me stories about being flipped off in and around Boonville for the offense of driving within the speed limit. She's an older lady, the flippers were young men who, I guess, don't have mothers or grandmothers.
THIS VERY WEDNESDAY morning, I was tooling along 101 southbound to Healdsburg Printing. It was a little before 6am. I like to fit in a couple of miles of fast-walk exercise before 9 when the paper's ready for pick-up, so I get out the door about 5. So, the garrulous old coot continues, there I am driving about 70 in the fast lane when I see a white passenger vehicle looming up at warp speed in my rear vision mirror and, as I turn into the slow lane to make way for the rocket ship, I'm startled to find this nut passing me on my right, leaving me behind in a cloud of dirt, dust and rock gravel. Why didn't he simply stay in the fast lane? Who knows? What I do know is we both came within an inch or so of disaster. I'm sure we all have comparable stories of motorists behaving badly, and we probably all agree bad public behavior generally is on the increase.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “This place is a mess today. Buncha guys are trenching, cutting down trees, pulling logs here and there doing site-prep for solar. Couldn't get my afternoon nap in. I'll be happy when things calm down again, not that they ever seem to around here.”
DEPUTY DOG ARMORS UP
Vested Interest in K9s Donation - Additional Award
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office K9 Rex To Get Body Armor
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office K9 Rex will receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. K9 Rex’s vest is sponsored by Coburn’s Construction & Cabinetry, Inc. of Willits, CA and will be embroidered with the sentiment “Gifted by Coburn’s Construction & Cabinetry”. Delivery is expected within eight to ten weeks. Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity located in East Taunton, MA whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States. The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers. Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provided over 2,400 protective vests, in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a cost of over 2.1 million dollars. The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate. The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K9 is $1,050.00. Each vest has a value between $1,795 â€“ $2,234 and a five-year warranty, and an average weight of 4-5 lbs. There is an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States. For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978. Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provides information, lists events, and accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at www.vik9s.org (http://www.vik9s.org/) or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718. Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Lieutenant Kirk Mason who oversees the Sheriff's Office K9 Unit stated, "The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office program has been in existence for over 20 years. During this time our canine partners have evolved from being strictly protection partners to person trackers, evidence seekers and tactical partners. As a result we have seen a marked increase in deployments and an increased awareness of our canine partners capabilities by both sworn personnel and community members. The donation of these vests will allow our canine partners to safely work side by side, with their handler, in day to day situations which tend to increase in both numbers and complexity. Our handlers will now have the peace of mind in knowing that their canine partner will be deployed in all situations, knowing that their canine partner has the highest level of affordable protection currently being offered."
CATCH OF THE DAY, May 19, 2017
CLAYTON BROWN, Ukiah. Controlled substance, possession of hashish, resisting, probation revocation.
ISAIAH CANNON, Santa Barbara/Willits. Drunk in public.
DARRELL CARADINE, Fort Bragg. Domestic assault, dirk-dagger, failure to appear, probation revocation.
TIMOTHY DAWE, Mendocino. Drunk in public.
CANDICE HAWKINS, Covelo. Petty theft.
JUSTIN MILLER, Willits. Drunk in public.
CARLOS OGAWA, Ukiah. Ex-felon with firearm, drug possession while armed, prior strike, disobeying court order, resisting, failure to appear, probation revocation.
PEDRO REYNAGA, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
SETH SMART, Willits. Controlled substance, smoking/injection device, leaded cane or similar, probation revocation.
RONALD VALENTINE JR., Ogdon, Utah/Ukiah. Soliciting in public.
CODY WIRT, Fort Bragg. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, elder abuse, criminal threats, vandalism, probation revocation.
WAYNE WALKER, LONGTIME BAY AREA SPORTS BROADCASTER, DIES AT 80
by Steve Kroner
Wayne Walker, who spent 15 years in the NFL as a linebacker for the Detroit Lions and then two decades in the Bay Area as the sports director for KPIX (Channel 5), died Friday from complications from Parkinson’s disease.
Mr. Walker, who had lived in his hometown of Boise, Idaho, since the mid-1990s, was 80.
Soon after Mr. Walker joined KPIX in 1974 until he left the station in 1994, he became as well-respected and popular as perhaps any sportscaster in Bay Area history.
“I don’t know that you could really properly explain to people who were not there how big of a deal Wayne was as a sports personality in the Bay Area,” said KTVU sports anchor Joe Fonzi, who worked with Mr. Walker for more than a decade at KPIX.
“There was a point where Wayne was pretty much the voice of record when it came to Bay Area sports.”
His NFL experience gave Mr. Walker credibility with both the public and the athletes he covered. He added to that with a straightforward delivery in his sportscasts that he typically brightened with a gap-toothed smile.
“He was the best,” said Joe Montana, the 49ers’ Hall of Fame quarterback. “He did things the right way that allowed him to get answers and trust from players that no one else could.”
Montana said that athletes often become guarded around certain reporters because the athletes believe the reporters have “an agenda.”
“They’re looking for something that fits into their agenda, no matter (what) you say,” Montana said. “I don’t think Wayne ever had an agenda. He was always on the up-and-up.”
In the ’70s, Mr. Walker made his mark in the Bay Area with his “sports challenges,” in which he would compete against individuals, teams and — in probably the most memorable segment — a cable car in a race up California Street.
Those segments were “incredibly popular,” said Art Dlugach, who became the KPIX sports producer a few months after Mr. Walker began working at the station. “When he did (the segments) with kids, 10-, 12-years-old or younger, those were the best. … People just really liked them and he liked doing them, for sure.”
Mr. Walker attended the University of Idaho and was selected by the Lions in the fourth round (No. 45 overall) of the 1958 NFL draft.
Over the next 15 seasons, he played 200 games as an outside linebacker and was named to the Pro Bowl three times. Mr. Walker also doubled as a placekicker and still ranks ninth on the Lions’ career scoring list with 345 points.
His longevity in the sport impressed those who followed him in the NFL.
“Fifteen years, as a historian of the game and knowing as much as I know about the game, that’s rare air,” said Ronnie Lott, the Hall of Fame defensive back who spent the first 10 of his 14 NFL seasons with the 49ers.
Mr. Walker enjoyed a strong relationship with the 49ers. He had two stints broadcasting many of their games as an analyst on CBS telecasts. He also had two stints (1979-81 and 1987-97) as the analyst on their radio broadcasts.
Add in the “Wayne Walker’s 49ers Preview” shows on KPIX, and he knew the team inside and out.
Lott recalled the bond Mr. Walker had with head coach Bill Walsh. Lott said that Walsh allowed Mr. Walker “to see the stories behind the curtain. … There were certain stories that nobody knew that Wayne had a chance to get. And there were things that Bill wanted him to know that no one else could know other than Wayne.”
For someone who spent so much time in the public eye, Mr. Walker’s personality was decidedly understated.
“He was really a very relaxed person,” said Dlugach, who is now a sportswriter and broadcaster in Texas. “He certainly never seemed to be off-kilter on the air or off.”
Said Lott: “Wayne was so good at allowing you to feel like you’re just sitting there talking, that you’re not in front of a camera.”
That calm demeanor belied how important his jobs were to him.
“He was very demanding of himself and everyone around him,” said longtime KPIX news anchor Kate Kelly. “You upped your game when you worked with Wayne because he really expected you to bring your ‘A’ game.”
Said Dlugach: “He could be a pretty tough editor if he didn’t like what I wrote.”
Few, if any, people in the Bay Area didn’t like Wayne Harrison Walker.
“He was always a fun person to talk to — not only for an interview, but just in general,” Montana said.
Said Fonzi: “There were a lot of people who were very caught up with their status as a quote, anchorperson. You never got that from Wayne.”
Kelly said that with Mr. Walker, “what you saw was what you got. I never saw him be anything else but a professional, a solid guy, funny — oh my goodness, he could make you laugh.”
Lott, in effect speaking for hundreds of Bay Area athletes over the years, said, “We saluted him for his grace, and not only his grace, but his ability to allow us to be able to share our stories, share who we are.”
Mr. Walker is survived by his wife, Sylvia, sons Steve and Doug and daughter Kathy, and eight grandchildren. A celebration of his life is pending.
(The San Francisco Chronicle)
DONALD TRUMP SETS OFF ON FRIDAY to create the fantasy of an Arab Nato. There will be dictators aplenty to greet him in Riyadh, corrupt autocrats and thugs and torturers and head choppers. There will be at least one zombie president — the comatose, undead Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria who neither speaks nor, apparently, hears any more — and, of course, one totally insane president, Donald Trump. The aim, however, is simple: to prepare the Sunni Muslims of the Middle East for war against the Shia Muslims. With help from Israel, of course.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The election of Trump was an attempt by the goobers (red states) to deal with the oligarchy created in Washington DC. They acted out of ignorance, not understanding that both parties are corrupted beyond repair, and that the current conditions that prevail will not bring power to the people. In trying to undo the damage, they voted in a man who is not only ignorant, but mentally incapable of doing the job he was elected for. G.W. Bush was stupid (elected by the red states), almost destroyed the country, and was replaced by Obama, who was almost completely owned by wall street, and did nothing to curb the power of the Goldman Sachs type companies, and who continue to prevail. He now makes speeches for $400,000 dollars an hour. It’s payback time for Wall Street, and they appear to be delivering as promised. The Red State people are not sophisticated enough to realize that they have elected a madman. They believed his rhetoric, and thought that this was a way out of the mess that this country has become. I have no idea as to how this will play out in the future, but I doubt that it will be pleasant. Expect the worst and hope for the best.
A MONSTER EATING THE NATION
by James Kunstler
Is there any question now that the Deep State is preparing to expel President Donald Trump from the body politic like a necrotic organ? The Golden Golem of Greatness has floundered pretty badly on the job, it’s true, but his mighty adversaries in the highly politicized federal agencies want him to fail spectacularly, and fast, and they have a lot of help from the NY Times / WashPo / CNN axis of hysteria, as well as such slippery swamp creatures as Lindsey Graham.
There are more problematic layers in this matter than in a Moldavian wedding cake. America has been functionally ungovernable for quite a while, well before Trump arrived on the scene. His predecessor managed to misdirect the nation’s attention from the cumulative dysfunction with sheer charm and supernatural placidity — NoDrama Obama. But there were a few important things he could have accomplished as chief exec, such as directing his attorney general to prosecute Wall Street crime (or fire the attorney general and replace him with someone willing to do the job). He could have broken up the giant TBTF banks. He could have aggressively sponsored legislation to overcome the Citizens United SOTUS decision (unlimited corporate money in politics) by redefining corporate “citizenship.” Stuff like that. But he let it slide, and the nation slid with him down a greasy chute of political collapse.
Which we find embodied in Trump, a sort of tragicomic figure who manages to compound all of his other weaknesses of character with a childish impulsiveness that scares folks. It is debatable whether he has simply been rendered incompetent by the afflictions heaped on by his adversaries, or if he is just plain incompetent in, say, the 25th Amendment way. I think we’ll find out soon enough, because impeachment is a very long and arduous path out of this dark place.
The most curious feature of the current crisis, of course, is the idiotic Russia story that has been the fulcrum for levering Trump out of the White House. This was especially funny the past week with the episode involving Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyak conferring with Trump in the White House about aviation security around the Middle East. The media and the Lindsey Graham wing of the Deep State acted as if Trump had entertained Focalor and Vepar, the Dukes of Hell, in the oval office.
Why do you suppose nations employ foreign ministers and ambassadors, if not to conduct conversations at the highest level with other national leaders? And might these conversations include matters of great sensitivity, that is, classified information? If you doubt that then you have no understanding of geopolitics or history.
The General Mike Flynn story is especially a crack-up. Did he accept a $20,000 speaking fee from the Russian news outlet RT in his interlude as a private citizen? How does that compare to the millions sucked in by the Clinton Foundation in pay-to-play deals when Madame was secretary of state? Or her six-figure speeches to Goldman Sachs and their ilk. Are private citizens forbidden to accept speaking fees or consulting fees from countries that we are not at war with? I’d like to know how many other alumni of the Bill Clinton, Bush-II and Obama admins have hired themselves out on this basis. Scores and scores, I would bet.
Trump’s adversaries might not get any traction on the Russia story, but they may enrage the rogue elephant Trump enough in the process that he will appear sufficiently incompetent to run him over with the 25th Amendment, and I think that is the plan for now. Of course, there are some jokers in the deck.
A really striking one is the story of murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich last July. He was shot in the back on the street outside his apartment one night by persons as yet unknown, and twelve days later over 40,000 DNC emails landed at Wikileaks. His laptop is reportedly in the possession of the DC cops — if it hasn’t been dumped in the Potomac. I’m generally allergic to conspiracy theories, but this looks like an especially ugly story, which might ultimately be clarified if-or-when Julian Assange of Wikileaks ever divulges the source of that data dump.
(Ed note: For more details on the Seth Rich case see: http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/19/seth-rich-craig-murray-and-the-sinister-stewards-of-the-national-security-state/)
Anyway, the new Special Counsel at the DOJ, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, may have to venture down that dark trail.
One way or another, though, the Deep State is determined to drive Trump from office. In the final rounds of this struggle, Trump might conceivably undertake a sudden swamp-draining operation: the firing of a great many politicized Intelligence Community officers, especially the ones legally culpable for leaking classified information to media — another area that Mr. Mueller could also shine a light on. The colossal security apparatus of this country — especially the fairly new giant NSA — has become a monster eating America. Somebody needs to literally cut it down to size. Perhaps that’s the Deep State’s main motive in moving heaven and earth to dump Trump.
When they do, of course, they are liable to foment an insurrection every bit as ugly as the dust-up that followed the shelling of Fort Sumter. Trump, whatever you think of him — and I’ve never been a fan, to put it mildly — was elected for a reason: the ongoing economic collapse of the nation, and the suffering of a public without incomes or purposeful employment. That part of the common weal is liable to completely whirl down the drain later this year in something like a currency crisis or a depressionary market meltdown engineered by yet another Deep State player, the Federal Reserve. That and the ejection of Trump could coincide with disastrous results.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his website: https://www.patreon.com/JamesHowardKunstler)
40,000 AT&T WORKERS ARE SET TO STRIKE
by David Bacon
Around 40,000 members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) at AT&T could walk off their jobs, starting Friday, for a three-day strike, as pressure continues to mount on the corporation to settle fair contracts.
In California and Nevada, around 17,000 AT&T workers who provide phone, landline and cable services have been working without a contract for more than a year. Last year, they voted to authorize a strike with more than 95 percent support. And in February, an estimated 21,000 AT&T Mobility workers in 36 states voted to strike as well, with 93 percent in favor.
Workers have issued an ultimatum, giving company executives until 3 p.m. ET on Friday to present serious proposals or the workers will walk.
It wouldn’t be the first strike at AT&T. Some 17,000 workers in California and Nevada walked off the job in late March to protest company changes in their working conditions in violation of federal law. After a one-day strike, AT&T agreed not to require technicians to perform work assignments outside of their expertise. Nevertheless, the biggest issues for workers remained unresolved.
AT&T has proposed to cut sick time and force long-time workers to pay hundreds of dollars more for basic healthcare, according to CWA. At a huge April rally in Silicon Valley, CWA District 9 vice president Tom Runnion fumed, "The CEO of AT&T just got a raise and now makes over $12,000 an hour. And he doesn't want to give us a raise. He wants to sabotage our healthcare then wants us to pay more for it. Enough is enough!"
AT&T is the largest telecommunications company in the country with $164 billion in sales and 135 million wireless customers nationwide. It has eliminated 12,000 call center jobs in the United States since 2011, representing more than 30 percent of its call center employees, and closed more than 30 call centers. Meanwhile, the company has outsourced the operation of more than 60 percent of its wireless retail stores to operators who pay much less than the union wage, according to CWA.
The relocation of jobs to call centers in Mexico, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic and other countries is one of the main issues in negotiations. A recent CWA report charges that in the Dominican Republic, for instance, where it uses subcontractors, wages are $2.13-$2.77/hour. Workers have been trying to organize a union there and accuse management of firing union leaders and making threats, accusations and intimidating workers. Several members of Congress sent a letter to President Donald Trump this year demanding that he help protect and bring call center jobs back to the United States.
"We've been bargaining with AT&T for over a year," CWA president Chris Shelton told the rally in Silicon Valley. "They can easily afford to do what people want and instead are continuing to send jobs overseas."
According to Dennis Trainor, vice president of CWA District 1, “AT&T is underestimating the deep frustration wireless retail, call center and field workers are feeling right now with its decisions to squeeze workers and customers, especially as the company just reported more than $13 billion in annual profits."
“The clock is ticking for AT&T to make good on their promise to preserve family-supporting jobs for more than 40,000 workers,” said Trainor. “We have made every effort to bargain in good faith with AT&T, but have only been met with delays and excuses. Now, AT&T is facing the possibility of closed stores for the first time ever. Our demands are clear and have been for months: fair contract or strike."
Last year, CWA members at Verizon were on strike for 49 days, finally gaining a contract with greater job protections and winning 1,300 new call center jobs. Since December, AT&T workers have picketed retail stores in San Francisco, New York, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, San Diego and other cities, hung banners on freeway overpasses, organized rallies and marches and confronted the corporation at its annual meeting in Dallas.
"Americans are fed up with giant corporations like AT&T that make record profits but ask workers to do more with less and choose to offshore and outsource jobs,” said Nicole Popis, an AT&T wireless call center worker in Illinois. “I’ve watched our staff shrink from 200 employees down to 130. I’m a single mother and my son is about to graduate. I voted yes to authorize a strike because I’m willing to do whatever it takes to show AT&T we’re serious.”
(In These Times. Full disclosure: David Bacon and In These Times staff are members of the Communication Workers of America, and the union is a sponsor of the magazine.)
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David Bacon Book Events
In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del NortePhotographs and text by David BaconUniversity of California Press / Colegio de la Frontera NorteBook Presentations -In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del NorteLos Angeles, Tuesday, May 23, 20171-3 PM, Chicano Studies Research Center, 144 Haines Hall, UCLA5:30-8 PM, UCLA Downtown Labor Center675 S. Park View St.
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Davis, Thursday, June 1, 2017, 7-9 PM, Art Annex Room 107 (Technological Studies Building), UC Davis Main Campus
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302 photographs, 450pp, 9”x9”paperback, $34.95
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SPECIAL OFFER: Order the book on the UC Press website: ucpress.edu/9780520296077 use source code 16M4197 at checkout and receive a 30% discount
CTC APPROVES $328 MILLION IN NEW TRANSPORTATION FUNDING FOR STATE'S INFRASTRUCTURE SYSTEM
Eureka - In an effort to rebuild and maintain California's infrastructure, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) has allocated $328 million to 88 transportation projects that will alleviate traffic delays, repair aging roads and bridges and encourage bicycling and walking. This includes 41 biking and pedestrian projects throughout the state that will receive $35.8 million in allocations from the Active Transportation Program.
"This list of multi-modal and fix-it-first projects help us keep our commitment to Californians to maintain and improve the transportation system for economic and quality of life benefits," said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.
The Legislature recently passed SB 1<https://www.gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=19769 which increases funding for transportation infrastructure projects and road repairs. In the coming year the public can expect to see increased awards and allocations for projects similar to those allocated funding this week.
The newly allocated funding also includes $234 million from the State Highway Operation and Protection Program for 29 "fix-it first" projects that will maintain and preserve the state highway system and its supporting infrastructure. These capital improvements consist of projects covering maintenance, pavement repair and rehabilitation, safety improvements and upgrades to bridges throughout the state.
The allocations also include:
$45.4 million for two Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program projects
$6.4 million for eight capital improvement projects both on and off the state highway system as part of the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)
$4.6 million for Traffic Congestion Relief Program projects that will relieve congestion, connect transportation systems and provide for better goods movement.
The remaining $1.6 million in allocations came from various state and federal transportation accounts.
Among the projects receiving funding allocations is Last Change Grade, a four-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 101 south of Crescent City known for geological instability and continuous maintenance and high repair costs. The project received $5 million which will allow Caltrans to obtain environmental clearances to begin conducting necessary geotechnical investigations of the proposed alternatives to the existing highway alignment. Beginning at the southern section of the proposed alternatives, Caltrans will use the money to work in close coordination with environmental groups and other stakeholders to plan out, permit, and collect data at a number of geotechnical drilling locations. The data will be used to help select an alternative route and permanent solution. "While this amount is not enough to complete all of the studies required, it is positive movement towards developing a project that meets everyone's needs," said Caltrans District 1 Director Matt Brady. More project details are located at lastchancegrade.com.
Please see the attached file for more information about all projects that received allocations.
Phil Frisbie, Jr.
Chief of Public Information, Public Information Officer for Lake and Mendocino Counties, Web Content Administrator, Caltrans District 1, 707-445-6444
KEEPING OUT THE CRITTERS, GENTLY
Talk tomorrow on excluding wildlife from your home (Message from Ronnie James of Woodlands Wildlife) Woodlands Wildlife Presents a Program on Humane Exclusion of Wildlife from your home TOMORROW.
Learn the tricks and tools for humanely getting and keeping our wild neighbors out of our homes, attics, walls, gardens, etc. No traps, No poisons, No killing.
Speaker, slide show, handouts.
At the Mendocino Middle School Library
Half a mile east of the Hwy 1 traffic light up Little Lake Road
Saturday, May 20th, 1-3 PM. Free
Woodlands Wildlife is your local non-profit wildlife rescue/rehab/release organization.
For questions contact Ronnie James, email@example.com
YAZ SAYS, MOVE RALPH TO THE WAKING HOURS
The Ralph Nader Radio Hour
Greetings Progressive Community & All Radio Lovers:
Did you know that KZYX/Z is now presenting The Ralph Nader Radio Hour every Sunday morning at 5:00 AM?!? Yes, I agree that this is not a good time slot for this very valuable, informative and potent radio program, but at least they have it on the air, at long last. It was playing at 6am, but no one gave them any feedback about it, so they moved it one hour earlier, to accommodate Living On Earth at 6am. So, here is my question: When many of us lobbied them for months (years?) to put Ralph on kzyx/z, and they finally did, why didn't we let them know that we appreciated it, and we are listening, and PLEASE PUT IT ON A BETTER TIME SLOT? So, My People, what's up with this? We surely criticize them when we don't like something, so we must also Big Them Up for doing something righteous, like putting The Ralph Nader Radio Hour on their (our) airwaves, and "Please move it to a more appropriate time slot, so the maximum amount of folks can hear it." Ralph is educating, imparting empowerment and knowledge, and is in the forefront of Our Revolution. This show is needed on KZYX/Z, so please contact the station and let The Powers That Be know that WE LOVE RALPH and we are listening! Thank you. Stand up for Peace & Justice.
DJ Sister Yasmin, Gualala
MEMORIAL DAY PEACE DEMONSTRATION
MONDAY, MAY 29, 2017. 12 NOON
OLD GUALALA POST OFFICE
"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To commemorate Memorial Day, South Coast People For Peace And Justice will hold a demonstration at noon on Monday, May 29, in front of the old Gualala Post Office. All are invited to join us to stand for Peace, ending all ongoing wars, bringing our troops home and taking care of them when they return with proper healthcare, housing, education, jobs and whatever else they need to re-enter society and live fruitful lives. Let's spend our over-inflated military budget on helping and healing and taking care of our planet and people, and end all killing and wars, drones and nuclear weapons. Let's honor the dead from past wars by ENDING ALL WARS and working towards Peace and Justice for All in our county and the world. Bring signs, flags, musical instruments, drums, your friends and neighbors and please join us on Monday, May 29th at noon in front of the old Gualala Post Office, downtown Gualala.
Information: 707-884-4703; 271-9170
ROGER AILES: GOOD RIDDANCE
Jeffrey P. Jones says it best: "No single individual has done more harm to American democracy in the last generation.”
In Rolling Stone:
Ailes was the Christopher Columbus of hate. When the former daytime TV executive and political strategist looked across the American continent, he saw money laying around in giant piles. He knew all that was needed to pick it up was a) the total abandonment of any sense of decency or civic duty in the news business, and b) the factory-like production of news stories that spoke to Americans' worst fantasies about each other.
THE FORT BRAGG FIRES
ED NOTE: Early in the morning of September 20th, 1987, three brazen Fort Bragg arson fires destroyed the Ten Mile Justice Court, the adjacent Fort Bragg Library and, just down Main Street, the venerable Piedmont Hotel and restaurant. No one was ever prosecuted. And these three blazes, spectacular and as disheartening as they were, were only three in a series of arsons-for-profit that plagued Fort Bragg in the 1980s. We're re-posting the five-part series on these unprecedented Mendocino County events as they appeared beginning in February of 1999. This first installment can be confusing; essentially, it describes the startling financial machinations, and related matters, orchestrated by a rogue loan officer employed by the Savings Bank of Mendocino in their Fort Bragg branch office.
* * *
Part 1: The Money Trail
by Mark Heimann & Bruce Anderson (February 1999)
This week's AVA begins the first in a series of stories on the Fort Bragg fires of 1987. We have identified the arsonists and will name them. Several of the individuals responsible for the fires still live in Fort Bragg. Two of them are prominent. The first three installments will consist mostly of background information necessary to understanding the motives and financial machinations of an unusually brazen but clumsy band of conspirators. They became known because they involved too many people in their scheme, and some of them talked too much. Some of them are still talking. They think they've gotten away with it; it appears that they have. The statute of limitations on the fires ran out years ago but there's no statute of limitations on murder. It's too late to send anybody to jail for the fires; it's never too late to indict a killer for murder. The bumbling of the authorities at first delayed, then prevented prosecution of the Fort Bragg Gang of '87, as they might be called. The safety and well-being of the citizens of Fort Bragg was traded by an indifferent District Attorney for her failed budget dispute with four equally indifferent supervisors. Fourth District Supervisor Liz Henry, much maligned by the Coast social milieu in which the Fort Bragg arsonists still prosper, tried to push the investigation forward but was out-voted.
Our series over the next few weeks will revisit the crime scenes and name the criminals. The police — local, state and federal — have known who did it almost from the night of the most spectacular arsons. Lots of Coast residents know who did it, and soon you will too. We will also describe the arsons which preceded, but were related to, the destruction of the Fort Bragg Library, the Ten Mile Justice Court and the Piedmont Hotel — the heart of old Fort Bragg, the town's history, its collective memory. We must say here that copies of the story have already been made available to the authorities. We are prepared to defend it and ourselves if it should come to it. We have no illusions about the ruthlessness of the people we are about to reveal.
* * *
In the late 70s Fort Bragg's Noyo Harbor had three homey restaurants with panoramic views of the mouth of the picturesque Noyo River. Viewing the ocean was not, back then, a big draw for the well-to-do Mendo-tourist we see today lingering over truffle mousse and brandy in viewless Mendocino. The people who got the best ocean views where hard working locals who made the water's edge restaurants, and especially bars, an integral part of their working and social life. Fishermen made up the bulk of the patrons at Fort Bragg's ocean view bars and restaurants
Noyo Harbor was once a busy port for the West Coast salmon fishing fleet before big timber wrecked the salmon spawning rivers. Not only was the little harbor busy with the seasonal fish runs, any small boat that ran into trouble or a big storm had no choice but to seek refuge in Noyo, the only harbor in the 350 miles between Bodega Bay and Eureka. During rough weather, the Noyo break at the mouth of the river is one of the most dangerous wave formations off the Pacific coast. Negotiating the break in a 45-foot fishing boat is a matter of life and death, a test of nautical skill even many experienced fishermen have failed.
From the comfort of the three Noyo Harbor restaurants, fishermen, temporarily safe from having to negotiate the Noyo's turbulent and treacherous mouth, would monitor the break's rhythms and tantrums, calculating when they could make a safe run in and out of the Pacific.
Inez's Cliff House, with its huge wraparound picture windows, was perched on the south cliff overlooking the mouth of the harbor. Sollini's Restaurant and Bar (mostly bar) sat on the north side of the river on its overlooking cliff. The Wharf Restaurant, down in the basin, provided an eye level, head on view of the break.
Salmon fishing was a loner's occupation and fiercely competitive. It was in these restaurants, over long days and nights of bad weather that knowledge and experience were freely exchanged among the fishermen who regarded the three establishments as their homes away from the sea.
On land, it was the proprietors of the restaurants who carried on a fierce competition. Not for the fish, but for the fishermen. Fort Bragg, with around 5,000 year-round residents, many surviving on off-season unemployment checks, couldn't sustain any restaurant year round. Bed and breakfast tourism of the type now thriving on the Mendocino Coast was, in 1987, just beginning.
From May to September catching fishermen's wallets was the primary goal of Noyo's mini-food service industry. Loyal followings were chummed by local restauranteurs who broke out all the stops catering to the needs of their sea-going clientele during the salmon season.
The major patronage of Inez's restaurant were mostly the coffee-house fishermen, fishermen who had retired and fishermen who just couldn't quite get it together to actually go out and fish. Along with the working fishermen, the landlocked fisherfolk would enjoy leisurely breakfasts and talk about fishing while consuming gallons of coffee in the morning and gallons of beer in the afternoon, all the while looking down at the mouth of the river to see whose boat was coming, and whose boat was going.
Perched on the cliff opposite Inez's, was Sollini's, a bar and rock 'n roll dance hall where the younger deck hands and inland loggers spent their fat pay checks on Friday and Saturday nights.
When the fish were biting off Fort Bragg, as they often were back then, the cash flowing through these three in Noyo Harbor restaurants was unreal. The tiny port would be awash in cash. Boats would come into the harbor to unload their catches all about the same time. Checks were cut by fish buyers right on the piers, and upwards of $10,000 per boat was paid out, every seven to ten days over the six month season. And there were a lot of boats. Captains would pay their one or two deckhands in cash. Fuel, bait, ice, supplies and repair accounts were also settled in cash. And the party was on.
The Wharf Restaurant, built on pilings over the Noyo estuary by Jim Cummings and eventually leased by Tom Wisdom, was the social epicenter of this free flowing cash-heavy activity in the harbor. The Wharf had tie-ups for salmon boats and a row of motel rooms for visiting fishermen to play with their girlfriends. A fisherman could unload his catch, take on fuel and ice next door, then step off his boat into a full bar where he was greeted by popular bartenders and attractive waitresses. Behind the welcoming crew at the bar was an upscale dining room that served several course dinners (prime rib being the speciality of the house) and a dance floor to work off the over-indulgence. Bankers in town knew that several million dollars, easy, would flow into the Wharf every fishing season.
Competing restauranteurs thought that by imitating the Wharf's high-end formula they could steal its customer base and get some of the fish money too, especially if the competing places had picture windows overlooking the entrance to the harbor.
In the late 70s Jim West, part owner of two of Inez's coffee shops, one located in Willits and the other in Fort Bragg, wanted in. But West saw himself as the host of a fine dinner house serving Fort Bragg's solid citizens, not necessarily fishermen. In 1980, West traded his mother his part ownership of Inez's in Willits for Inez's Cliff House overlooking Fort Bragg's busy little harbor.
West's first move was to close the Cliff House's popular breakfast service and scale back lunches; he thought he didn't need the coffee-drinkers who made the place their hangout. A second cup to anyone sitting at the counter during the dinner hour was prohibited. One waitress recalls, "I was warned that if I gossiped with any of my regulars I would be fired. I wasn't allowed to seat anyone in working clothes in the dining room. After Jim ran everybody off, those of us who didn't want to ditch our uniforms and dress-up were let go. It was awful, I'd only have four tables on a Saturday night. Everyone was gone, not just the old regulars."
In 1981, West, found his new enterprise overlooking the harbor mouth in survival mode. He needed money. He thought a re-model would revive his business so he approached Bill Dunham, Assistant Vice-President and Bank Manager for Mendocino Savings Bank in Fort Bragg, for a loan.
Dunham was a young man in his middle 30s with a young wife who taught elementary school in town. He was amiable, seemed to know everything about money, had an energy that older people envied but younger people assumed was chemically derived, and he sported a groovy guy perm, then all the rage among fast track males, urban and rural. Dunham enjoyed hanging around with the fishermen down at Noyo, especially when the fishing fleet was in. There were lots of unattached women around and enough cocaine to keep all of Mendocino County boogie-ing for weeks on end. The young banker was right where the action was.
It was a wild time, and Bill Dunham fit right in. Although married, there were trips to the exotic spas of the Caribbean and Mexico (which were also known as major money laundering centers) with ladies who did not appear to be Mrs. Dunham. The madcap whirlwind of the Savings Bank's Fort Bragg loan desk so alarmed a young assistant who'd just joined the bank that the new man called his strait-laced superiors at the bank's Ukiah headquarters and told them that either Dunham had to go or he would resign. "We'll all go to jail if this keeps up," the young banker told Ukiah in a plea to the main office to rein Dunham in because Dunham was making what appeared to be large loans to businesses with no visible means to pay them back.
One of many bizarre episodes with Dunham at the center occurred when Dunham was briefly placed under arrest by federal authorities on charges which quickly disappeared, along with the records of the detention. It wasn't only Dunham's young assistant who was suspicious of the banker, law enforcement was interested in him, too.
Dunham was eventually sent down the road by the Savings Bank. The bank officers refused to say why their Coast money man was fired. Banks seldom fire a manager; a sudden dismissal at the management level shakes confidence in the prudence and, by extension, the stability of the institution.
But Dunham was fired.
Meanwhile, back at the Jim West's Cliff House, with banker Dunham at his elbow just before Dunham was sacked by the Savings Bank, West wanted to redecorate the place, his thinking being that its decor was the reason he couldn't attract customers. West was a non-drinker who discouraged the sale of beer and wine to his dinner customers, a fatal miscalculation in hard-drinking Fort Bragg. According to a lawsuit against the Savings Bank later filed by West, West said that Dunham had told him he would qualify for a $400,000 loan. Even West knew this was a ludicrous amount of money for a property and business worth — at best — about $200,000 in the market of 1987. Nevertheless, according to West, Dunham urged him to take out the loan, assuring West that he would have great success in what had been merely a coffee shop when it became a "fashionable restaurant." Dunham told West he had experience in the restaurant business and would help West manage the place.
West was hooked.
Dunham went to the Small Business Administration without West's knowledge of the details of the ensuing transaction and got a guarantee from the SBA to back up the Savings Bank's outsized $400,000 loan to West. According to West, Dunham then inserted himself into the renovation of the premises and distributed portions of the loan where the banker thought it should go. It finally occurred to West that Dunham had become his de facto business partner.
West received $125,000 for the renovations and $235,000 to purchase new kitchen equipment — walk-in refrigerators, enough stainless steal pans to cook for a hundred customers at a time, several commercial ranges, sufficient dishes to host half the fishing fleet, and a brand new cash register to ring up all the new business. West was also promised $40,000 in cash as working capital to pay the more immediate bills, and to tide over his cooks and waitresses until the "up-scale" dinner crowd began arriving.
West claims he was never informed what his interest payments were going to be on the $400,000. Running a traditional loan amortization schedule at 8% interest, West would have needed to come up with around $7,000 per month, which is a lot of shrimp cocktails. But according to the recorded deeds on Inez's Cliff House, West also had a payment to make to his mother, and another one to Crocker Bank on a mortgage of about $36,000 with payments for both totaling $3,000 a month. West, then, had to generate some $10,000 a month, every month, in a town that literally closed down (except for the bars) during the six-months that salmon fishermen and loggers were at home either living off their savings or drawing unemployment.
No banker would make this loan. No rational loan recipient would want it. But West thought somehow he could handle it.
The energetic Dunham also helped West run the business. Under Dunham's direction, West changed the menu from "deep fried to sauteed." A waitress recalls that West had a chart on the wall on which waitresses and dishwashers were to record the number of dishes they broke. More than five plates was grounds for dismissal unless the fumble fingers responsible paid for the broken crockery. "We all thought the chart was a hoot because there were no customers. The only way dishes are broken in a restaurant is when the place is jammed with people and dishes are moved at warp speed in order to keep up with the business."
West never got the $40,000 cash draw Dunham had promised him to pay those first bills. West also claims that Dunham informed the SBA in 1982 that "West had a problem generating sufficient sales as a result of increased competition in the area."
And the competition did increase, thanks to banker Dunham.
In 1982, through the Mendocino Savings Bank, Dunham had also gone into business with long-time Mendocino County restauranteur, Vince Sisco. He lent Sisco $140,000 via a 90-day promissory note payable on demand for Sisco to buy the defunct Sollini restaurant located on the north side of the harbor, directly opposite West's struggling Cliff House restaurant. On whichever side of the Noyo he happened to be standing, Dunham could see a restaurant he and the Savings Bank was funding.
Sisco had been a business partner with Patrick Finnegan in the Wharf Restaurant down in the harbor, but had had a falling out over lease payments with Finnegan and the property’s owner, Jim Cummings. Finnegan, born and raised in Ukiah where he was a high school football star, and was described as "brilliant" by people who know him well, became an attorney with a thriving practice in Ukiah. But the cocaine devil got him and Finnegan self-destructed in a blizzard of legal trouble, including a terrible automobile crash near Fort Bragg. He was sought for years by various creditors, including a Ukiah bail bondsman.
Finnegan sold Sisco's interest in their business at the Wharf to Tom Wisdom, who jealously guarded the Wharf's popularity by requiring a "covenant" from Sisco to not steal his customers by owning or operating another restaurant within ten miles of the Wharf.
Sandra Tonstad, Sisco's daughter, provided cover for her slippery father. Since dear old dad had agreed not to operate another restaurant within ten miles of the Wharf, loyal daughter Tonstad would front for dear old dad. She soon negotiated the purchase of the Sollini Restaurant and Bar just a short walk up the hill from the Wharf. She negotitated directly with Sollini, but her dad, Vince Sisco, was the real owner in violation of the deal he'd signed with Wisdom promising Wisdom he wouldn't run another restaurant in the area.
The grossly inflated purchase price for the crumbling, ramshackle Sollini property was $460,000 at 13% interest. But Sisco, who knew first hand about the success of the Wharf, nonetheless found the usurious deal attractive. According to a Mechanic's Lien filed on the Sollini enterprise, Sollini had halfheartedly tried to renovate the place after a fire damaged the building in 1981, but couldn't come up with the $20,000 to complete the job. Sisco lent his daughter Tonstad the $75,000 down payment to buy Sollini's. Sisco, always strapped for cash, especially large amounts of cash, got the money from the promissory note fronted by banker Dunham. Sisco and Tonstad finished renovating the restaurant, bar and dance floor and renamed the place Agustino's and, of course, were in instant competition with both the lucrative Wharf and Mr. West's clueless Cliff House.
Banker Dunham and Vince Sisco were in business. Dunham was now funding competing restaurants on both sides of the mouth of the Noyo, thus betraying his other client, Jim West, while Sisco, disguised as his daughter, betrayed the deal he'd made with Tom Wisdom not to compete in the local restaurant business.
After the flurry of renovations and optimistic grand openings were over at the two eating establishments at the mouth of the river, West's Cliff House and Sisco-Tonstead's Agustino's, the bleak reality of impossible monthly payments for both establishments became obvious. Dunham had engineered loans for mortgages totaling twice the value of the Cliff House and Agustino's properties and the failing businesses inside them. The Mendocino Savings Bank could only sit and wait for the inevitable collapse of both.
Dunham didn't have to wait long.
West filed for bankruptcy in 1983 on Inez's Cliff House. According to West during the bankruptcy proceedings, Dunham informed the SBA that "the reason for West's nonpayment was that West was a poor business manager and was not operating his business with good business judgement or efficiency."
Like West, Sisco and Tonstad also had some $10,000 a month in payments to make on their respective mortgages and loans. Unlike the straight arrow West, Sisco had other ideas about how to hold on to his restaurant besides filing for bankruptcy.
Lurking around the periphery of this cut-throat game of restaurant Monopoly was a new guy in town, Dominic Affinito. Affinito was from Sacramento where his family sits atop a small but lucrative real estate empire. Affinito brought more cash to Fort Bragg than any single individual in the town's history.
Affinito immediately purchased the Tradewinds Restaurant and Motel on Main Street, Fort Bragg, for $2 million cash; the sale was made in 1981. By the end of 1982, Affinito had completed construction of the motel's new meeting room and swimming pool. Located on Highway One in the center of town, and within walking distance of the harbor, the Tradewinds offered 60 inexpensive rooms and a bar at the entrance to its coffee house and restaurant. The Affinito complex caught the overflow business from Noyo and the long-haul truck drivers and low-budget tourists passing though town. With the closing of the once popular Cliff House breakfasts, the Tradewinds became the place for lots of fishermen and working people to meet and have coffee in the mornings.
Less than a mile to the south, overlooking the Noyo, West's new kitchen was the talk of the town. "We had more people visiting the kitchen than we had customers," recalls a waitress.
West claimed Dunham, in 1983, brought Dominic Affinito, the new guy in town, into his restaurant to show him the new $235,000 kitchen. Affinito liked the kitchen, liked it a lot, liked it so much he wanted to own it. Meanwhile, Dunham thwarted West's only opportunity to redeem his investment via bankruptcy proceedings by treacherously asserting that West "was a poor business risk." Dunham had doomed West's chance, albeit a slim one, to redeem his business via financial reorganization but, in the Savings Bank-friendly County courts West was denied that slim opportunity. Ironically, West had looked good enough to Dunham for the original $400,000 loan, so good Dunham himself took over much of the re-modeling of the restaurant, but Dunham sabbed West’s chance to recover with a lower re-payment schedule by describing him as a poor businessman.
The Savings Bank of Mendocino soon foreclosed on West lock, stock and well-equipped kitchen.
Guess who bought it?
Dunham, in 1985, then sold West's remodeled Cliff House to Affinito for $340,000, considerably less than the value of the property, which now had a brand new kitchen and other essential improvements. West lost everything and finally gave up completely in 1990, withdrawing the suit he brought for fraud and usury against Dunham and Mendocino Savings Bank in 1987. West had gotten in way over his head in very deep water with very big sharks. Affinito got a state-of-the-art restaurant overlooking the Noyo. With tourists beginning to arrive in greater numbers year-round, Affinito came out way ahead, as he would in lots of real estate deals in and around Fort Bragg.
Right from the beginning of their false front enterprise on the bluff opposite Affinito’s new restaurant, Sisco and Tonstad were having a tough time making their monthly property payments to Sollini, and just as tough a time paying their help. They borrowed heavily from their bookkeeper, Ruth Johnston, in order to try and stay current. The ubiquitous restaurant lender, Mr. Dunham, helped them out by lending them another $53,000. This sum was in addition to the original $140,000 loaned in 1982 on which Sisco had never made a single payment. Sisco and Tonstad, father and daughter, went ever deeper into the red. Sollini, who held the first mortgage, was going to foreclose and take back the restaurant which, like the Cliff House, had been substantially remodeled.
With Sisco, the Savings Bank was in a much more dangerous financial position than the dubious deals Dunham had done with the unsuspecting West. In West's case, Savings Bank was in the "largest lender" driver's seat, pushing the outcome to where West lost his $200,000 equity while Affinito acquired the property and improvements for $100,000 less than they were worth; the Savings Bank of Mendocino, SBA and Crocker would also come out whole in the end. West lost everything.
Lenders who engage in ruthless acquisition lending do so in order to make money from the interest and sale profits based on an increase in the new appraised value of property enhanced by the duped entrepreneur — West, in this case. But when West went under, the interest realized by Mendocino Savings was a pittance because of the short term of the loan. The property sold for less than the value of the loans and West's equity, hence no profit for Savings Bank. One must look at who benefitted most to understand what Dunham was up to, who he was really working for, and it wasn't the Savings Bank of Mendocino.
In Sisco's case, the Savings Bank was in precarious second position behind Sollini's $385,000 first mortgage on Dunham's $193,000 unsecured loan to Sisco. If Sollini foreclosed on Sisco and Tonstad it was likely that Mendocino Savings would lose the $193,000 it had loaned Sisco. Tonstad and Sisco had virtually no other assets other than their heavily mortgaged Sollini's, re-born as Agustino's. Sisco had lost his Redwood Valley home to foreclosure some years before, and Tonstad's home was mortgaged to the hilt. The Savings Bank would have to purchase the $385,000 Sollini note in order to protect its $193,000, but this wasn't an attractive proposition because the property and failing business couldn't be sold for an amount totaling the combination of the two loans — Sollini's and Sisco's — of almost $600,000. Worse still for the Savings Bank, per a lawsuit filed against Sisco later on, the Savings Bank, through Dunham, had advanced Sisco that $193,000 on promissory notes with no collateral to back them up. Sisco never had a better friend than Dunham, and the Savings Bank was about to eat it for $193,000 plus the interest on the cash that Sisco had never paid.
Dunham tried to rescue the deal before everything went to hell when Sollini foreclosed. Savings Bank filed suit against Vince Sisco in 1985 for fraud even though the Bank's boy Dunham had facilitated the Bank's relationship with Sisco, a man whose ability to get money from banks and insurance companies bordered on the miraculous.
The Savings Bank claimed that Sisco never did have an ownership interest in Agustino's and had misled Dunham into making the purchase and renovation loans back in 1982. The bank refused to believe that Sisco's daughter, Ms. Tonstad, was fronting for her father. But she was.
In reality, the suit against Sisco by the bank was to obtain a court judgment that legally tied the $193,000 loan directly to the Agustino property and business, the first step necessary to take over the property. The Savings Bank prevailed in 1986. But by then Tonstad was $135,000 in arrears in her mortgage payments to Sollini.
In May of 1986 the Savings Bank, apparently unaware of Tonstad's relationship to her father, the man the bank had just sued, lent Tonstad $120,000 (payable at $1,000 a month interest) to help bring first mortgage payments current and to stop Sollini from foreclosing. This reduced the principal on Sollini's first mortgage, and also brought the Savings Bank a little closer to equal loan positions with Sollini. But the only possible way Dunham could make Savings Bank whole on his loans to Sisco and Tonstad (now totaling $313,000) was for Sisco and Tonstad to pay off Sollini. This would move Savings Bank into the first mortgage position where it would either be paid off or it would acquire title to the property through foreclosure if Sisco and Tonstad defaulted on their loans from the Bank. Through Dunham's scheming, Sisco and Tonstad would, in essence be paying for the Agustino property twice, once from Sollini and again from Savings Bank.
On September 19, 1986, Agustino's burned.
The cause of the blaze was attributed to a smoldering cigarette. The restaurant was badly damaged. City of Fort Bragg records show that Sisco and Tonstad soon obtained approval for $75,000 worth of fire damage remodeling. After completion of the work Agustino's re-opened in April of 1987 as the Waterfront Bar and Grill.
* * *
Affinito, again Johnny On The Spot, bought the Waterfront Bar and Grill in 1991 after its series of suspicious fires and dulypaid insurance claims as suspicious as the fires. The property was assessed at $244,000. Affinito purchased the property for $425,000, $35,000 less than what Sisco/Tonstad had paid nearly ten years earlier. Affinito now owned the restaurants on both sides of the mouth of the Noyo. Sollini's mortgage seems to have been partially paid off through Tonstad's financial recovery from fire insurance and was finally paid off by the Savings Bank. The Savings Bank then foreclosed on Tonstad and sold the property to Affinito.
The Savings Bank was owed at least $313,000 and probably more when it paid off Sollini. It the bank made any money from its mercenary transactions it wasn't much. But Dunham was out from underneath what could have been a $300,000 lending deal gone very bad, and Affinito had himself another piece of prime real estate on the north side of the Noyo to go with his prime piece of real estate on the south side of the Noyo.
* * *
Following the Cliff House fire August 4th , 1987, Affinito received "no hassle" approval from the City of Fort Bragg through its city manager, Gary Milliman. Milliman, also acting as head planner at the time, gave Affinitio the go ahead to renovate the Cliff House based on plans partially approved by the City six months before the Cliff House fire. Affinito expanded his new acquisition by 50% during a building moratorium for the south section of Fort Bragg. The moratorium prohibited all businesses from expanding more than 10% of their existing square footage because (ironically) there was not enough water pressure in the City's water lines to comply with fire code requirements for fire suppression.
At the same time Milliman was doing everything for Affinito short of back rubs, he put Sisco and Tonstad through the City regulatory wringer. Milliman refused to sign off on their building permit on various construction items, disconnected Agustino's from water service because it was allegedly "out of compliance" with city codes, conducted hearing after hearing alleging that the business had opened without an occupancy permit or a business license. Already in way over their heads, thanks to Dunham, Milliman now pushed Sisco and Tonstad right over the bluffs and into the river. There is no evidence that the City ever exercised its regulatory muscle as zealously with any other business in Fort Bragg before or since. In fact Affinito's currently non-compliant Cliff House North motel, (built where the Sollini's/ Waterfront/Agustino's used to stand) "approved" by the City in 1991, is now an infamous example of the City's arbitrary regulatory blind eye.
After engineering several subsequent tax funded "business deals" for Affinito, in 1996 Milliman went into the Skunk Train business with Affinito after being removed from his City Manager's job for routing public redevelopment money to a private enterprise he partially owned.
If Affinito had a better friend in Fort Bragg than Gary Milliman, it had to be the Fort Bragg City Council. The fire gods were also good to Affinito.
(Next: Who Is Dominic Affinito?)
HUNDREDS GATHER IN SACRAMENTO TO DEMAND BIG OIL MONEY OUT OF STATE POLITICS
California has won the reputation of leading the fight for environmentally friendly policies. Yet, last year Big Oil spent an historic $36 million to lobby California lawmakers. Over the last 10 years, the industry spent $260 million to influence California politics — that’s more than any other interest group. Environmental and public health advocates’ efforts to protect the environment have been thwarted because of the financial power of the fossil fuel industry. Now, hundreds of Californians, fed up with pay-to-play politics, are converging from around the state to march and rally in Sacramento on Saturday, May 20, during the California Democratic Convention. They’re coming together to raise awareness and demand that their elected officials refuse Big Oil contributions. It’s time they put the people’s best interest first.
What: Press Conference
When: Saturday May 20, 10:00 am
Where: 13th and K Streets, outside Convention Center, Sacramento
Who: Sandra Steingraber (Author, Environmentalist, Biologist)
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez (Earth Guardians)
Caleen Sisk (Winneman Wintu Tribe)
David Braun (Rootskeeper, Americans Against Fracking)
Michael Green (Center for Environmental Heath)
Robert Rivas (Supervisor, San Benito County)
Adam Scow (Food & Water Watch)
Lydia Ponce (AIM So Cal)
Jose Bravo (Just Transition Alliance)
Visuals: Supporters will carry signs, banners and artwork
What: ‘Oil Money Out, People Power In’ March from Governor’s Mansion to California Democratic Convention
Where: The Governor’s Mansion, 16th and H Streets., Sacramento, CA
When: 12:00 noon
Who: Hundreds of Californians who want to get Big Oil money out of politics and protect their home state.
Visuals: Marchers will carry colorful banners, chant and sing; the rally will include speakers and music.
The Oil Industry’s spending spree has paid huge dividends for these companies, allowing them to defeat or water down any meaningful legislation that might curb their power to drill, frack and pollute. At the same time, the state of California performed independent studies on the toxicity of oil operations and made strong recommendations to protect public health. None of these recommendations has been implemented or addressed, leaving the public vulnerable to ongoing contamination and toxic exposure. It’s time that Californians take a stand and protect the beautiful state we consider home and so many dream of visiting.
HUMBOLDT’S HOMELESS NUMBERS Down More Than 40% From Two Years Ago, According to Preliminary Count
Press release from the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services:
The 2017 homeless preliminary Point-in-Time (PIT) count data is available, showing a total of 668 people in Humboldt County experienced homelessness on the night of Feb. 27, compared to 1,180 counted in 2015.
The biennial PIT count, conducted by the Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition (HHHC) and local volunteers, documents the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless people on a single night during the winter.
The count is a HUD requirement. Information gathered during this count is used by local planning departments and by county nonprofit agencies in grant applications and planning.
More than 15 agencies and 80 trained volunteers assisted in this year’s PIT count which showed Eureka having the largest homeless population in Humboldt County, followed by Arcata.
Sally Hewitt, HHHC co-chair and Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services senior program manager, said the volunteers and assistance from community partners contributed to the count’s success. “We had homeless volunteers help with planning and counting.”
While the count provides important information about the local homeless population, it is not a scientific survey. The number of people counted each year is to some extent dependent on the number of volunteers available to do the counting. There were fewer volunteers this year, which could in part account for the lower number of homeless people counted.
Still, it seems likely that some of the rehousing efforts in the past year are having an impact, including the 30-60 Housing First campaign, CalWORKs Housing Assistance Program, Betty Chinn’s efforts, and accommodations made by local landlords in our communities.
The count takes place in communities across the U.S. on a single night in January. This year Humboldt County received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that allowed the count to be conducted in February.
Starting the morning of Feb. 28, and going through the week, volunteers connected with homeless people throughout the county to administer voluntary surveys with questions about age, physical and mental health status and where they had slept on the designated night.
For the purposes of PIT counts, people experiencing unsheltered homelessness are defined by HUD as individuals or families with “a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, including a car, park, abandoned building, bus or train station, airport, or camping ground.”
People experiencing sheltered homelessness are defined as individuals or families “living in a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living arrangement (including congregate shelters, transitional housing, and hotels and motels paid for by charitable organizations or by federal, state, or local government programs for low-income individuals).”
The 2017 PIT Count committee included representatives from the North Coast Veterans Resource Center, Arcata House Partnership, Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services, Alcohol Drug Care Services, Inc. and Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives. The count was funded in part by a grant from the Smullin Foundation.
“Local businesses helped out, especially North Coast Co-op who once again donated 50 pounds of excellent coffee, and thanks to the Smullin Foundation for its monetary donation,” Hewitt said.
The HHHC is still in the process of analyzing the data and comparing it to previous years and will post a final report to its website upon completion.
The HHHC is a coalition of housing advocates, businesses, funders, elected officials, service and housing providers, faith-based organizations and other community stakeholders working together to identify and address local housing needs. In Humboldt County, the HCCC is the lead organization for homeless issues and the federally designated Continuum of Care.
For more information about the HHHC, visit its website at http://humboldthousing.org/about-thehhhc/.
ED NOTE: Most HumCo on-line comment says the Humboldt homeless are simply more spread out after their major camp sites were shut down.