APPOINTMENTS were made Tuesday to the Measure B Mental Health Facilities Oversight Board. There are eleven of them now. Sheriff Allman, the Measure’s key advocate, of course; plus County Auditor Lloyd Weir, County Mental Health Director Janine Miller, CEO Carmel Angelo, Donna Moschetti of the local chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), Mental Health Board Chair Jan McGourty, plus five appointments by the five Supervisors: Dr. Ace Barash, Shannon Riley, Jed Diamond, Bill Mertle (Owner of Fort Bragg Electric), and Ross Liberty (of Factory Pipe, Ukiah). Their first meeting is set for later this month. Most of these people can be trusted to ensure the facility does what it’s supposed to do.
WARREN GALLETTI, fog belt Socrates, resigned his easy over job as County Superintendent of Schools with a non-explanation presser because, it seems, he knew that the four-person majority on Point Arena's perennially defective school board had wired their top job for him at more money than Galletti had made as Mendocino County’s educational leader. A reader put it this way: "Heard it got pretty hot and heavy last night at the Point Arena School Board meeting. Apparently, four board members hired Warren Galletti for superintendent of the PA schools absent of prior notification or due public process. The salary was reported as $145,000/year, with a set $1,200/year raise guaranteed. When asked how the salary got so high, the answer was that this is what you pay for ‘exceptional people.’ I understand the contract for last year's superintendent has not been finalized."
IT COULDN’T be more obvious that Galletti conspired — sorry, no other word to describe it — with his pals on the Point Arena school board to install himself in PA’s superintendent’s position without advertising the job, without even the fig leaf of a public process. The deed was done in private session but clearly pre-arranged. The board simply emerged from closed session and announced that Galletti was the man. His job in his home town of Point Arena secure, Galletti then announced he was resigning from his job as Superintendent of County schools, a job with no job description because it’s a job without work. One brave fog belt soul voted against the Galletti deal.
POINT ARENA will pay Galletti $145,000 a year plus perks and regular annual salary increments. At the County Office in Ukiah he made $132,000 annually plus a free car and gas to ease his commute from PA to his invisible tasks in Ukiah.
EVEN by Mendo’s dependably sleazy standards of unaccountable public employment, the Galletti affair stinks. The public’s business is supposed to be conducted in public. It’s the law, even in Mendocino County. Both the DA and the Grand Jury ought to have a look at how Galletti got the job.
FORTY-FOUR (44) PEOPLE at the County Office of Education make more than $70,000 a year (as of 2016). The County School Board gets paid to attend meetings and gets free medical care, too. This way their loyalty to whomever happens to occupy the top job is assured. But, heck, it’s for the kids.
SOME OF OUR favorite MCOE job titles:
- Debra Courtney, Director I-Internal Business, $109,924.02
- Denise Keller, Behavior Specialist, $105,450.00
- Antonio Lopez, Administrator On Special Assignment-IRPA, $106,397.52
- Lech Slocinski, Teacher-CTE Commercial Photography, $72,145.50
- Stephen Hahm, School Climate & Transformation Coach, $68,553.27
(COME ON, HAHM. Pick up your game. Responsibility for climate and transformation (transformation of what?) is worth at least $70k.)
CRUISING MCOE'S butterfly-strewn website, we count three confidential secretaries and an array of nebulous but fully staffed positions in Ukiah and Fort Bragg. I remember when the office was out on Low Gap Road, Ukiah, where the staff consisted of Lou Delsol and a couple of secretaries who checked credentials and did what work there was to do. I walked in off the street one day to ask a single question of one of the nice ladies and Delsol, like a man marooned by himself on an island far from the Pacific sea lanes, shot out of his office and invited me in for a chat. Which went on for two hours, during which his phone never rang, no one popped her head in the door to say something like, "Lou, don't forget your two hour free lunch."
THE COUNTY OFFICE of Education began to burgeon under Delsol to include, as it developed, two criminals and several of their unindicted co-conspirators, three of whom inevitably became superintendents themselves. The office grew so rapidly via any number of new state and federal programs vaguely aimed at varieties of edu-uplift that the enterprise moved from its trailer complex on Low Gap to the old state hospital dairy at Talmage, suitably re-modeled of course at great expense out of educational funds. The old dairy's bulls were put out to pasture, the bullshit moved in, so to speak. No expense has ever been spared by MCOE in service to our nation's future!
MCOE doesn't do anything the individual school districts of the County couldn't do better and cheaper for themselves, but when was the last time anyone heard of a public bureaucracy being eliminated because it was redundant? When The Terminator was Governor and, truth to tell he was a good one, much better than Wind Tunnel Brown, he wanted to terminate county offices of education but was stymied when the entire state edu-apparatus, and their Democratic Party gofers, rose as one to scream, "How can you do this to the children?"
LIKE MOST PUBLIC budgets in the County, from KZYX to MCOE, edu-budgets are written to disguise the true money numbers and the destinations of that money. How effectively is the money being spent? On the off chance someone asks, the agency's captive trustees will stare back, at first uncomprehending, then offended.
NEAR AS WE CAN TELL, somewhere around $36 million every fiscal year flows through MCOE, more than half through an umbrella operation called SELPA, an acronym that launches one into eye-crossing obfuscation even before one tries to figure out where the millions are going. In theory, the monies "provide a full range of services to students with special needs." Which turns out to be any kid who annoys or befuddles adults, which turns out to be all young people in one form or another. (Double the SELPA budget and you’d suddenly have twice as many special ed cases.) But do any of these loosely defined funding units, these special needs youngsters, turn out to be less needy after years of special MCOE-SELPA attention? We'll never know. They're kissed goodbye on their 18th birthdays when the money for them ends.
MCOE'S Talmage compound contains a large number of very well-nourished women walking around with their coffee cups, prozac smiles on their faces. The visitor wonders if they relate whatever task they do to the big picture of Education Americano, a failed enterprise by any objective standard as regularly discussed by media everywhere in the land. Despite the billions spent on it, American students, except for the rich kids in private schools or some of the public schools in wealthy suburbs, don't learn how to read at better than a 6th grade level, if that, can't write at all, and are so weak at basic numerical calculations they get ripped off every time they buy something.
MY FAVE MCOE story involves a portly degenerate named — well, look it up; he's suffered enough. This guy was SELPA director for years. At almost every meeting of the County School Board he reported on what a great job he was doing, often bringing in a few bewildered special ed cases to whom he'd present recycled golf trophies he'd bought at garage sales. The County School Board would beam out at the pure uplift of the presentation tableau and say, “Doing a great job, Hal, keep up the good work."
AT THE TIME of the garage sale golf trophies, the Superintendent, and we're talking post-Delsol who was at least a nice man, was retreating to Motel 6 with his comely private secretary, the better to focus on educational policy, while his Assistant Superintendent was signing over various items of state property to himself. The Assistant Supe later did a few months in the County Jail but, last I heard, was still roaming I-5 looting school districts up and down the state.
ANYWAY, the golf trophy SELPA director owned a bar on North State Street where, in the back room, he made pornographic films with underage girls using expensive video equipment theoretically owned by the County Office of Education. Even by local educational standards this was considered over the line and the guy was packed off to the perv unit of the state pen. But all this stuff was going on at the same time! It may have been the most thrilling time in public education ever! The County Office has never been as exciting! Finally, a couple of reformers, Don Lipmanson and David Colfax, got elected to the County School Board and managed to right the Good Ship MCOE to all its glorious, but more or less reputable, pointlessness.
WHEN I WAS a regular at public meetings of all kinds, it occurred to me that all the boards in Mendocino County were interchangeable, that the five members of the County School Board could just as well be the County Board of Supervisors, that if you multiplied these two boards by three hundred we'd have the Congress of the United States!
THE MCN CHAT LINE was buzzing last week with comment on the death of a highly regarded Coast woman named Barbara Bybee. One commenter claimed, with no evidence, that the Hospital failed to catch the heart problem that apparently killed Ms. Bybee.
CLEARLY, management of Coast Hospital deserves all the criticism it gets, but line staff has always done a first-rate job despite a series of fiscally irresponsible moves at the top occurring over the years, which have cumulatively placed Coast in a precarious financial situation so severe that Coast could be reduced to a clinic similar to those in Ukiah and Boonville, leaving thousands of Coasties with no emergency or severe care option but the Adventist for-profit monopolies in Willits and Ukiah. Coast has always paid its administrators and certain of its doctors wayyyyyy too much, in my admittedly long distance opinion, a fact bedeviling the place for what? thirty years now? An irony of Coast's fiscal woes — somewhere between $11 and $13 mil — is that it's that indebtedness which has discouraged the Adventists from adding Coast Hospital to its long list of outback conquests.
MY EXPERIENCE with Coast Hospital over the long years has always made me a staunch defender of it. I've told — nay, ordered — my colleagues here at the County's beloved weekly newspaper that if I suddenly conk out, the Boonville ambulance either carries me to Coast Hospital or leaves me lie. Really, where would you want to draw your last breath? Among the deep fry ambience of Ukiah or the sea-scented cypress of Fort Bragg?
MOST OF MY, ah, interfaces, with the vegetarian cult medical center in Ukiah have left me and mine relieved to have escaped alive. One brother, who needed regular blood transfusions, watched the nurse kick the blood machine to get it started. He said he feared she might kick him if he wondered out loud about the viability of the thing. The Adventists kicked my seizing sister out after an hour because she was merely a medi-cal patient, thus not lucrative enough to treat. She received a quality of care at Coast Hospital that Rockefeller himself pays thousands for.
COAST HOSPITAL is one of the very few community hospitals owned by the community it serves. Destroying it by unfounded criticism and bad management is an insult to the generations of Coast people who have faithfully supported it.
CAN THE F-BOMBS be far behind? Listening to the NPR version of Trump’s vulgar dismissal of poor countries as shitholes, I was surprised when one of NPR’s chirping news readers warned that "vulgar language" was ahead then, a second later, and before I could hide the children and plug my ears, he said that Trump had wondered aloud why so many people from the "shithole" countries of Africa, Haiti and the Dominican Republic were coming into the country instead of people from Europe, especially Norway.
YES, NORWAY. You'd think the Norwegians would be desperate to escape their socialist hell where the average annual wage is $97,000, medical care is free and no one sleeps outside, but the fools simply won’t budge.
TRUMP LATER DENIED saying what he’d said: “Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said ‘take them out.’ Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings — unfortunately, no trust!”
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT'S comment line overwhelmingly approved Trump's shithole characterizations, as later in the morning he blithely appeared to pay tribute to Martin Luther King! Later in the day, we learned that a Trump lawyer had paid a porn actress more than $130,000 hush money to keep quiet about their relationship.
NIXON was certifiably crazy his last year in office and, Trump-like, positively seethed with animosities for whole categories of people, a fact confirmed by the Nixon Tapes, some of which still haven't been released. But Nixon was careful who he said psychotic things to, but ultimately careless when he taped them.
MARCO MACLEAN WRITES: "Re: Charles Hensley of Ukiah. “I don’t understand this. He keeps getting arrested every week, and then, what, they just run him through the system and dump him back on the street? For Christ’s sake, somebody help him. He’s more mangled and misshapen every time they take his picture. Is he being beaten? Or is someone crashing into him with a car over and over? Imagine what a nightmare his life must be. Whatever help he needs, how could it possibly cost more to determine that and actually help him than what they’re doing now?"
POOR OLD HENSLEY has been rotated through the system for years now. It’s medical miracle he’s still alive. I doubt if he's ever held in jail long enough to completely sober up. There are about a dozen habitual drunks in the County who pop up regularly in the booking log. Used to be they'd be packed off to the State Hospital at Talmage where a few of them were held long enough to re-take possession of themselves. There's nothing for them now beyond the County Jail.
HENSLEY is an inland guy. Ms. Heather DeWolf, also a frequent flyer, is rounded up most often in Fort Bragg. She apparently is a fighten' drunk, routinely turning up in the booking log — as she's found this week — looking like she's been dragged along the pavement on her face.
MY VOTE for Measure B assumes that the new County psych facility includes Hensley, DeWolf and the rest of the habituals. Drinking as hard as they do is certainly an expression of mental illness. One would think.
MENDOCINO COUNTY is not on the list of 10 courthouse projects to be funded in the new state budget, which is good news for what’s left of central Ukiah.
EVERY YEAR, as Martin Luther King's birthday approaches, and rote ceremonies in his honor commence amid steadily deteriorating economic and social conditions, the man himself is lost. He's as remote now as the turbulent 1960s he helped define.
NOT TO BE TOO much of a geezer about it, but I was there, a foot soldier on the left when King was besieged from all directions, denounced practically on a daily basis in the media of the 1960s, and written off by the left for his non-violent strategies and ridiculed for his Christianity. The media routinely denounced King as an all-round subversive, if not a communist, a com-symp, and was moving "too fast" in his aggressive opposition to the prevalent injustice.
KING was among the very bravest figures of those low times, beginning every day without police protection for himself and his family, not knowing if he or his wife and children would survive the day. These latter day celebrations of King's life are kumbaya affairs, a lukewarm rhetorical muck of rainbows and unicorns.
THE DAY AFTER KING was murdered, I was leafletting for a protest rally on Market Street when a young guy walked up and started screaming vile insults about how happy he was that King was dead. I thought I was going to have to fight the great white knight before he walked away. That guy was the only negative on the whole day. Everyone else who took a leaflet or stopped to talk was sympathetic and shocked at King's murder. But I still remember that one encounter as emblematic of '68, and hadn't experienced anything like it since until these Tiki Torch clowns, emboldened by the Trump election, started popping up around the country.
SAN FRANCISCO back in the day was not at all the liberal bastion it has since become. Sort of. The City was strictly, militantly segregated up through the 1970s, and the cops routinely busted gay bars just for the hell of it.
I HAVE VIVID MEMORIES of the assassination of Martin Luther King. My daughter had just been born at Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco. Her delivery doctor was barefoot and wore a flower behind his ear. I remember feeling that I should probably check his credentials. I was driving a cab, writing bad poetry and working to overthrow the government for all the reasons King himself perfectly articulated — the insane war on Vietnam at the expense of home front spending. My brother had just gotten out of the federal penitentiary at Lompoc for refusing to register for the draft. He was the first guy in the state to refuse to register and had been packed off in '64. Just as he was leaving prison, my cousin, sentenced out of Arizona, was arriving at Lompoc on the same charges that had locked up my brother. Cousin Jim was the first guy in Arizona to get prison time for refusing to register. Years later, as a public defender here in Mendo, DA Massini always referred to him as "The Felon."
I WAS WATCHING the news when the announcements that King had been shot began. Later that night, Yellow Cab Dispatch warned us to stay out of Hunter's Point and the Fillmore District because men were shooting at cab toplights. I tried to find confirmation that this was true but never did. No driver I knew had had it happen to him. But it was a bad time generally in San Francisco with lots of violent street crime and hard drugs mowing down acres of flower children, hastening the “back-to-the-land” movement that would form the Mendocino County we see around us today.
I HAD A WIFE and two small children and no money. But cab driving, in the San Francisco of 1968, could pay the bills out of the cash it generated, and I "managed" the slum apartment building we lived in at 925 Sacramento at the mouth of the Stockton Tunnel, perhaps the noisiest residential neighborhood in the world, with horns honking and idiot shrieks emanating from the tunnel's echo chamber round-the-clock.
I GOT A FREE apartment in return for my management, which consisted of doing absolutely nothing because rents were mailed directly to Coldwell Banker. The Nude Girl On A Swing was our immediate neighbor. She sailed out of the ceiling naked every night at a North Beach nightclub over a sea of upturned faces. Her act was a big draw, and solid evidence that the male species is pathetic. She was also a junkie whose dope head boyfriend threatened to kill me one night when I stopped him from beating her up. We headed north, too, soon after, but not "back to the land," just out of the city and, purely by accident, landed in Boonville.
HERE'S AN excerpt from the MLK speech that probably got him killed, the last straw for the guardians of a corrupt system. You’re unlikely to hear it repeated at the occasions memorializing him:
“I should make it clear that while I have tried to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor. Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours. There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter the struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy — and laymen — concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God." — Martin Luther King Jr., April 1967
SAKO FILES. “It’s official: Today (January 12, 2018) I filed the California Form 501 and declared my candidacy for the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, District 1, in 2018.
Assistant Clerk Recorder/Registrar of Voters, Katrina Bartolomie, kindly assisted me. John Sakowicz, Ukiah"
LAURIE HARRIS, the Willits School Trustee who was arrested in October on pot cultivation charges was sentenced last week to two years of probation and 100 hours of community service after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor pot possession charge. Reporting in last week’s Willits Weekly, reporter Dan McKee said that Harris’s original arrest followed a raid at her East Hill Road home in which deputies seized 37 pot plants, three pounds of processed pot, some concentrated pot and a digital scale. Harris said the pot was for medical purposes, but the raid team insisted it was commercial. Under the probation terms Harris waived her search warrant rights, and agreed to pay “full restitution” to the Sheriff’s office for the cost of the raid and plant eradication, plus she agreed to not smoke pot recreationally, only medicinally under a doctor’s order. McKee concluded, “Harris resigned from the WUSD board of trustees on December 6 after reading a prepared statement critical of both Superintendent of [Willits] Schools Mark Westerburg and her colleagues on the board.
WHAT REALLY seems to have happened in the Harris case is this: For whatever reason the Willits school board and admin wanted Harris off the school board. On the school board with Mrs. Harris was Mrs. Croskey, whose husband is a cop with the Mendo Sheriff's Department. Of course the subsequent raid on Mrs. Harris could have been the devil weed commandos simply doing their jobs…
SO FAR, FIVE PEOPLE have filed candidacy papers to replace outgoing Third District Supervisor Georgeanne Croskey. In addition to the three we were already aware of — Former Third District Supervisor John Pinches; elementary school Spanish teacher John Haschak; and perennial recreational political candidate Pamela Elizondo. Additionally, we now have Round Valley School Board member and “emergency support staffer for Redwood Community Services” Tony Tucker and Willits blacksmith Brian Kunka.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE WEEK
"You want a real shock to open your eyes to how bad the built environment in America is? Visit a western European country like France. There, the cities, towns, villages and countryside are beautiful, clean and to a human scale. It is obvious that they care about the environment people live, work and play in. There, planning and regulations on development for the good of the citizenry are not a dirty words and “developers” can’t just throw up whatever the hell they want for maximum personal return, society be damned. Returning to North America after that experience leaves one depressed for what an ungodly ugly mess our developments look and feel like."