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County Notes (Feb 28, 2018)

ACCORDING TO COUNTY TREASURER-TAX COLLECTOR Shari Schapmire the County has already collected some pot taxes. In fact, at the end of the Ms. Schapmire’s pot tax collection white paper/staff report, she appends the following summary of cannabis tax collections from January of 2017 to February 8 of 2018:

Dispensary: $315,215.06

Cultivator: Type 2 $280,158.23

Cultivator: Type 1 $33,077.12

Cultivator: Cottage $59,611.69

Nursery: $68,125.00

Total $756,187.10

Which, if true — and we have to assume these ridiculous numbers are true, as preposterous as they seem — Mendocino County has collected over three quarters of a million in cannabis taxes unbeknownst to the Board of Supervisors, that 1) nobody knew about, and 2) nobody knows where it went. We've heard that it all went back to the state but…

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WE WERE SURPRISED to learn that County CEO Carmel Angelo has a "Performance Planning Team" as part of her "Executive Leadership Team." (What's next, uniforms?)

ACCORDING to Tuesday's board packet, the Performance Plan Project Charter, which describes the Performance Plan Team, was created back in January of 2017. Also known as "Goal Getters (G2)", the Performance Plan Team Charter’s description and purpose is: "develop plans to identify culture and measure performance metrics in order to define and track the success of the county’s project teams, identify opportunities for improvement, and educate our decision-making process. This experience will be utilized to develop additional performance metrics throughout the organization including metrics related to disaster assistance and recovery."

THE TEAM is also supposed to “develop measurable benchmarks based on project goals and objectives, develop a method of reporting for project teams based on established benchmarks/indicators, and develop tools to track measurements of progress to allow the information to be fully utilized in the decision-making process."

THE TEAM is made up of nine people, in addition to CEO Angelo. Jill Martin from Child Support (aka the Deadbeat Dads office), Anne "The Inevitable" Molgaard from Health and Human Services, Jenine Miller from Health and Human Services, Shannon Richards from Child Support, Jody Johnston from Health and Human Services, Doug Gherkin from Health and Human Services, Tim Hallman an accountant with the Auditor's office, Pauline Rantala with Health and Human Services and Amanda Wolter an administrative assistant in CEO Angelo's office. (Play ball!)

AND IF YOU HAVE THE IMPRESSION that the “team” is heavily weighted toward HHSA-types to the exclusion of other departments, you’d be right.

IT'S NOT CLEAR what the Performance Plan Team has done for the last year because there is nothing in the report that tells the pesky public what they're up to, but they seem to have been able to identify the "resources needed" to accomplish their lofty goals: Resources Needed: "Access to tools like Open Gov; consultant [sic] to help determine the best tools of measurement for designated team members to research what other county or local governments use, and Time commitment from department heads and the leadership team to make this process a priority and allow project teams to attend training, etc."

CONSULTANT. RESEARCH IN OTHER COUNTIES. TRAINING. — Translation. We'll do nothing, accomplish less, but we'll have fun at the trainings.

THE TEAM'S "success and completion criteria" are: “meet with 100% of the project teams to help them establish measurable goals (6 months); and make sure all project teams have achieved 90% of their goals/measurements (18 months).”

IN OTHER WORDS, if the Performance Planning Team simply meets with the "project teams" and helps them “establish measurable goals” in the next six months (!), a major milestone will have been achieved! Further, if the Project Performance Team “achieves 90% of their goals/measurements” (whatever that means) in the next 18 months, victory will be ours and Mendo will magically move forward into the 21st Century.

IF THIS BUSHWA is what CEO Angelo meant by “developing performance metrics” when she first announced the idea last year, they have failed already. Hell, it took them more than a year just to set up the “Performance Planning Team”!

IT DOES NOT TAKE a Performance Planning Team of 9-5 bureaucrats to prepare budget and staffing reports for the Supervisors. It does not take a "consultant" to determine “the best tools of measurement” (whatever they mean by that) when each department can simply report on their top three cost drivers. The Sheriff, for example, could report on number of arrests, cases cleared, the jail population, bookings, etc. Health and Human Services could simply report how many people they processed in each category of help, what the backlog is for eligibility workers, how many people are out on sick leave at any given time, etc. General Services could report on how many service orders they completed, how many vehicles they repaired or serviced, how many contracts they issued and for what value, etc. The District Attorney could — well, he's already providing lots of statistics, not that anybody's paying attention. The Transportation Department could report how many potholes have been repaired each month, how many road crew positions are vacant in each County road yard, how many miles of grading projects were completed, etc. Planning could report on permits issued by type, buildings inspected, etc. (Both those last two departments do some of this already, but it’s spotty, incomplete and entirely up to the Department.) The smaller departments could develop their own similar criteria and wouldn't have to report as often. There you go — no consultant needed, performance measurement may commence. No consultant needed. No charge.

CEO ANGELO'S Leadership Team is also encumbered by a Communications Improvement Team, a Customer Service Team, an Economic Development Team, an Employee Engagement Team, an Operational Process Team, a Recruitment and Retention Team, and a Leadership History Team. The only other Team she needs is a Leadership Reduction Team.

THIS throw-every-conceivable-team-idea-against-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks approach is guaranteed to make sure that every team loses and the process drags out until long after CEO Angelo retires. And if CEO Angelo really thinks she needs all these Teams, then she is obviously not doing her job.

IT MIGHT ALSO help this befuddled mob to review basic English language skills, bearing in mind that words in the outside world still have meaning. (Mark Scaramella)

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A READER WRITES: Looking at KZYX’s Form 990 for 2015… (excerpts of relevant pages at

Page 9 has a concise summation of income (basically a half-mil coming in each year):

$373,705 [membership dues]

$18,418 [fundraising events]

$129,477 [government grants]

And page 10 has many interesting expense figures. lines 5 & 7 show some salary & wage figures. then line 24 has a number of curious entries, that raise a number of questions:

a) $59,228 [consulting] wonder what this was for, and who?

b) $39,553 [programming] guess that is what they paid for programs.

c) $34,535 [dues & subs] why is this under “expenses”? is this what it cost to collect dues & subs? Memberships for something?

d) $23,615 [fundraising] again, is this the cost of holding fundraisers? if so, fundraising had a net loss of $5,197 that year. that is, fundraising cost more than it brought in. maybe they should stop fundraising.

e) $43,408 [miscellaneous] wonder what these expenses were...

The other thing I see at first glance is they seem to be slightly in the hole every year. Half-mil coming in, half-mil-plus going out. Brings to mind that classic Dickens speech about one's yearly income and expenses: "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."

ED NOTE: KZYX’S 2017 RETURNS are also equivalently indicative of an enterprise headed for the rocks. The main prob revealed by these figures, vague as they are, is a steady decrease in income while the paid staff takes more, upwards of $250,000 a year of an annual income of about $550,000. Inside chicanery reveals that former trustee Stuart Campbell got his love interest, Sarah Reith, installed in the news department, such as it is, ranging from pathetic to hilarious in an unintentionally wacky way. Campbell also is the author of recent station budgets, minor masterpieces of fiscal deception. Most people outside the incestuous Philo audio bunker might want to know of and apply for reporter jobs, but they aren't advertised. Ever. This bit of petty chicanery involving Campbell and his girl friend isn't all bad, though, because Ms. Reith is a capable person. How much is she paid? We'll never know. The General Manager claims it's confidential, which it isn't at any other tax-funded, tax-exempt organization.

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RANDOM BLIPS from a failing mind: Never happen, but there wouldn't be nearly so much unhappiness with the County's Planning and Building Department if long-time local contractors were simply waved on through the process. Anderson Valley contractors like Jim Boudoures and Sons have years of quality work behind them. They, like many in-County contractors, are a known quantity. Why not an automatic check-off for all of them? They pay their fees and are outta there in one stop.

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MENDO DOPE POLICY is so screwed up there's no way to un-screw it, and for damn sure the state isn't going to make it less complicated. Mendo should refund the fees paid by the saps who have signed up and return to the unwritten policy that worked so well for the long years prior to the present — illegalization. It kept prices high, mom and pop made their mortgages, kept cops employed, produced annual excitement every year at harvest time. As is, we have the worst of all worlds: mom and pops who enrolled to be legal getting busted, corporate and overtly criminal gangs installing mammoth outback grows, many of them terribly damaging to what's left of the natural world, pot prices plummeting driving mom and pop out of the business and into coping, at advanced ages, with neo-poverty, lots of permit fees paid with nothing to show for it.

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ON Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors agenda is a County Counsel request to increase the pay authority to an outside law firm from $100k to $150 to defend the County in a child abduction case filed by Linda and Rudolfo Morales and Ms. Morales's minor grandson K.B.

MORALES alleges that the County of Mendocino, some of its employees, and two of K.B.'s relatives — more specifically, his mother Buffey Wright and his minor cousin V.W. (Ms. Wright is also Ms. Morales's daughter, and V.W. is also Ms. Morales's grand-daughter) conspired to remove K.B. from the Morales's home without cause or due process.

THE CASE has been underway since 2015 with unending motions and counter motions. Apparently the two attorneys working in the County Counsel’s office, who specialize in such things, were either unqualified to handle the dispute on their own or they were disqualified as parties to the case. We’ve attempted to look into the now-grotesquely complicated particulars of the matter and can’t even tell if Ms. Morales wants monetary damages or custody changes or both.

WE TEND TO THINK that if Ms. Morales has gone to this much trouble to sue the County and carry on with it for this long, there must be merit to her case, since Mendo is not exactly the picture of perfection when it comes to child seizures and custody disputes. But as priorities go, most locals would prefer to see the $150k go to go fixing potholes, not an endless custody dispute drain on the County’s general fund.

One Comment

  1. George Hollister March 6, 2018

    “Performance Planning Team” seems to be looking at the county government performance in terms of themselves. No mention of how this performance is good or bad for the county.

    Here is an abbreviated list of the things that matter: How many miles of county road chip sealed; how many indigent people put back on their feet; how much of a reduction in indigent people having children; how much less time and money spent getting a building permit; how much the county pension debt has been reduced; how big a budget surplus there is; how many more people are utilizing the libraries and museums; how many less out of town homeless we have; how much lower are the crime statistics; how much has the county helped Willits, Fort Bragg an Point Arena address their respective housing shortages; etc.

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