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Off the Record (April 25, 2018)

FROM THE PRESS DEMOCRAT: "The Domaine Carneros 2013 Brut won Best of Show Sparkling for its bouquet of aromas, from pear and honeycomb to brioche. It offers a creamy texture, elegant structure and a long finish. The judges complimented its flavors of ‘yellow apple and Bartlett pear’.”  Wait a sec here. All the judges detected yellow apple and Bartlett pear? Like, shut up and drink it.

THE CASE OF WESTPORT'S Kenny Rogers is known among County lawyers as "the miracle conviction." There was zero evidence that Rogers had hired or even asked a Sacramento thug to shoot up the home of Rogers' Westport Fire Department adversary, a fellow named Simon. But off Rogers went to the state pen, where he languishes still, and off went his lawyers with a ruinous amount of Rogers' money for making a hash out of his defense. See Tim Stelloh's story on the Rogers saga at where you can also find a recent letter from the wronged man.

NOT THAT I'M SURPRISED the Marbut Report on local homelessness is being resisted by the County's helping pros out of their usual self-interest, but I have yet to see a coherent, or even an incoherent, refutation of Marbut's recommendations, which, in a nutshell are: A single strategy that puts the homegrown homeless first and keeps the transient homeless moving on down the road. To accomplish this modest and commonsense goal the helping pros would coordinate their efforts for the greater good, maybe even combine their efforts into a single approach as in, for instance, Eugene, Oregon where a large facility in West Eugene houses all the houseless because no one is allowed to set up home under a city freeway or in the bushes along the mighty Willamette. The Eugene shelter is church-run, while the terminal drunks, drug heads and crazy people — the problem homeless — are housed in a jail annex. Since the Supervisors paid Marbut a handsome nickel for his analysis of the local prob — more of a local prob by the day — they should insist that the helping pros cooperate or lose their funding. Prediction: Until the homeless become so many they're camping on the lawns of Westside Ukiah they'll continue to complicate the lives of the commercial people in Ukiah's and Fort Bragg's business districts. And bum everyone else out of public spaces.

IN AMNESIA COUNTRY, as here in Amnesia County, history starts all over again every day. The FBI as a non-partisan organization is a major re-invention lately, what with that prig Comey cashing in on his own shady behavior when he was Director, but the even greater re-write is the history of the FBI itself, an historical fact solidified, we thought, from the many books written about the agency and its nutball founder, J. Edgar Hoover, a blackmailing cross dresser all his days. Hoover stayed in office all those years because he amassed dossiers on the sex lives of presidents and people around presidents. For instance, he had reams of material on the Kennedys' interludes with Marilyn Monroe, and audio tapes of MLK's romps with women who were not his wife. From its beginnings as a national police force the FBI has, foremost, been a political police force, perpetually on the trail of anarchists, then communists, then black radicals and not so radical black people like, most famously, Martin Luther King, and lately, of all people, the Trumpers. The notion that the FBI is this chaste, above-it-all, apolitical agency is simply not true.

A READER WRITES: "Roderick's statement ‘the county has been run for 40 years by people from Albion and Mendocino’ is an odd thing to say. Technically quite false as our current supe (Hamburg) lives just outside Ukiah; before that it was Colfax of Boonville; I don't know where Peterson lived during his four years; and before that was de Vall of Elk. And that takes us back 40 years. The four other district supes had to live elsewhere, in order to represent those districts, so that means over the past forty years no supe, with the possible exception of one-term Peterson, lived in those two towns. In a broader sense, I'd say most of the people running this county are from Ukiah. Now I understand in your subsequent discussion that you are speaking of the lib-dem spirit of Albion & Mendocino which, I guess, is what Roderick was alluding to, but it seems an odd way to put it — until you realize that his two strongest opponents, Williams and Skyhawk, hail from those particular towns. So I suppose it makes sense in a conservative dog-whistle way. Make Mendocino County Great Again."

RE FLOW KANA: "Though the staff were decked out in the trappings of the Wild West, the outlaw, renegade farmers who formed the foundation for today’s multi-billion-dollar industry are the very group that may not make the successful transition into the regulated market…. It is far too soon to predict the future of FCI or the many other burgeoning cannabis businesses in Mendocino County and beyond. But for a few hours, on that resplendent, celebratory sunny afternoon, cares were forgotten, hard questions were not asked, and pipe dreams, freely encouraged, floated languorously into the Redwood Valley sky." (Carol Brodsky, Ukiah Daily Journal, "Redwood Valley's Flow Cannabis Institute Celebrates with 'launch party'.”)

FLOW KANA'S BUSINESS MODEL is sharecropping. They buy cheap the raw product from small-scale pot farmers and sell at big mark-ups to licensed pot shops. Flow Kana spent a fortune buying up the old Fetzer Winery in Redwood Valley, put another fortune into a retro-fit for packaging dope, must be paying the glibly articulate young people they've got doing the upfront marketing another small fortune.

WILL THEY MAKE IT? Seems from here that the little guy pot person can do better selling his own dope to his long-time customers. Or developing his own markets, cutting out all the people in between him and his labor — the County, the state, entities like Flow Kana. Of course like booze sales, if you make and market your own you risk prison doing business outside what is already an onerous and expensive legal framework. I doubt Flow Kana will be able to pay producers enough to get them to sell to Flow Kana in the volume Flow Kana will need to support the mondo-spiffo neo-sharecrop pot corp they've set up in Redwood Valley.

AT THE RISK of incurring the wrath of Willits' guy, Laz, the old Howard Hospital seems inevitably suited to the new County psych unit. It's a lot cheaper to re-do part of the hospital than to build a new center from ground up. So what if Marge Handley and her pals make a few bucks from the deal? The old girl is no dummy and has always had a gift for being in the right place at the right cash time. If not her one or another of Willits' free enterprise buccaneers, you get another one. Besides all this, and as a practical fact of modern day psychiatric medicine, the unfortunates confined to the unit will certainly exist in a zombo-izing chemical stew, and be so catatonic they are unlikely to vault the chainlink fence and run screaming through the adjoining neighborhood. Moreover, these patients are not the criminally disposed. The criminally disposed nut cases will be housed at the new unit at the County Jail.

WELL, EASY-PEASY for you to say, Mr. AVA from the safety and comfort of your Boonville bunker. How would you like to have a nut house next door? As it happens, I do have a nut house next door if you, like me, consider sporadic late night gun fire and window-rattling "music" played at top volume a major expression of mental aberration. A nut house next door would be a step forward for me.

RANDY JOHNSON is the just-retired, and highly criticized former Under-Sheriff, but we find him on Tuesday’s Supe’s agenda: “5a) Discussion and Possible Action Including Approval of Extra Help Appointment of Randy Johnson to Fulfill Critical Duties, Pursuant to California Government Code Section 7522.56 (Sponsor: Human Resources) Recommended Action: Approve the Extra Help Appointment of Randy Johnson to fulfill critical duties, pursuant to California Government Code Section 7522.56.”

WHAT CRITICAL DUTIES? How long? Long enough to sweeten Johnson’s retirement pot?

SUPERVISOR GJERDE recently refused to vote for a request from County auditor Lloyd Weer to bring back a freshly retired employee on the irrefutable grounds that this kind of double-dipping is now against state law. Of course the four other automatons voted to bring the employee back. It will be interesting to see if Gjerde challenges the Johnson deal.

AMEN BRO. Art Juhl writes: "…Now studying the budget I can read into it that there is a great need for accountability of all departments. The Supervisors should get each and every director to submit a report every month to see where their funds are spent, not the CEO who in my opinion is overwhelmed. If that happened we might even have a surplus to fix our roads!”

MENDOCINO COUNTY is odd in so many ways, but it’s also unique in the absence of a taxpayer’s watchdog group. No exaggeration to say that with every meeting of the Supervisors thousands of public dollars are authorized for public expenditure that shouldn’t be. With his background in forensic accounting, candidate Juhl is the first candidate in my memory to say any version of what Juhl said to the ICO recently. (Pinches challenges the budget from the perspective that certain expenditures like roads don’t seem to be expended to much in the way of visible effect.)

SPEAKING of the fiscal black hole known as the Mental Health budget, Juhl declared: “What happened? $17 million dollars went to consultants….They are pissing away so much money, it’s unbelievable. I want to make people aware of this. The auditor (Lloyd Weer) will not return my calls.”

THE 2018 GRAND JURY is off to a rather weak start this year with this statement of the obvious: “Ukiah city streets are in a state of extreme disrepair.” A trite call that something be done about it follows, but there are some serious gaps in their suggestions for what to do. After a nearly unreadable recitation of transportation funding bureaucracies, jargon and acronyms, the GJ pompously proclaims: “The voters want assurance that the money collected is used for the intended purpose. The grand jury expects the city to uphold their commitment and encourages city residents to participate in budget and planning discussions.”

OH YEAH, that’ll do it. The GJ expects Ukiahans to crowd the City Council chambers during their highly orchestrated budget discussions to “demand” that their roads be fixed? Ukiah already tolerates a laughably inflated and wildly overpaid management, a growing population of the walking wounded, a dying downtown, bad streets, all of it adding up to, What government? It ought to be clear by now that Ukiahans will put up with anything.

BOONVILLIANS try to limit their road miles to “Far Out, Nearby,” as Ukiah’s $25,000 consultant advised Ukiah to advertise itself as, how come our County seat’s streets are perpetually torn up for one unending project or another. Planning anybody?

EVEN A CASUAL GLANCE at Airport Park Boulevard, soon to be further battered by massive Costco traffic, for a random example, shows the clearly shoddy trench closure patchwork that many of Ukiah’s main arteries suffer from.

WE WERE HOPING the Grand Jury would look into the Mental Health Department and their private contractor post-Ortner, but if this first 2018 report is any indication of the kind of analysis they’re capable of: Don’t bother. (Mark Scaramella)

LINDA MCNEIL, a Willits attorney who specializes in drunk driving cases, has filed a claim against the County of Mendocino for a $527 pair of glasses pair she claims she lost while undergoing the security check into the courthouse at the Perkins Street entrance last February. Ms. McNeil says, "Entering the courthouse just before 9 AM for court appearance, keys fell into the basket which was heard and retrieved. Glasses disappeared. Security looked into machines but could not locate. Positive had glasses with me." Ms. McNeil says that the employees who she alleges caused the injury or loss are “unknown security check-in at courthouse." Even if her account of the lost glasses is true, which we frankly doubt and attribute to simple forgetfulness, expecting the County of Mendocino to reimburse her for something that occurred at the courthouse entrance is odd, especially for an attorney, since she should know that the contract for courthouse security is through the county courts, not the County of Mendocino. And how do we know that her glasses really cost $527?

WHY ARE WE SO SURE that nothing will come of the $50k Marbut report? Because Marbut’s report points out several things that Official Mendo doesn’t want to hear:

Mendo County is “agency centric” (i.e., Mendo funds more helpers than homeless), not system centric; Mendo County makes decisions based on “myths,” not data (data which they not only don’t have but don’t want). Mendo County has no plan; they don’t understand the problem, they only deal with the symptoms, not the triggers of homelessness; they have very few substance abuse and treatment slots/beds; there’s no affordable housing (and that is getting worse); the so-called “point in time count” makes sure that money for non-helpful helpers is badly inflated (to make sure the helping agency funding continues to flow) and makes the problem seem less solvable than it is, etc.

MARBUT ALSO NOTED, “Having so many day service centers in a small area will likely produce many unintended negative effects and effects for both the individuals experiencing homelessness and for the general public within Ukiah. The negative issues will likely include: Reduction of case management accountability, Dilution of service impacts, Increased ‘service shopping,’ Expansion of the bread-crumb trail through neighborhoods.” (I.e., there’s a lot of redundancy due to the many overlapping agencies whose primary purpose is in sustaining their own funding.)

UNAWARE that he’s dealing with an incompetence so massively entrenched that the entire Marine Corps would be unable to penetrate it, Marbut’s recommendations to do the obvious will go nowhere. The guy gets his fifty grand, but like the army of consultants before him Marbut  optimistically recommends a “check up plan,” saying that follow up “should not become bureaucratic and should not become a bunch of meetings, needs to be rigorous, needs to be independent, should have a regular set of check points (after 2 months, after 6 months, after a year, etc.).” Mendo meeting capital of the world, has proven to be absolutely incapable of doing anything like this on any subject.

DOPE DAY, APRIL 20TH (from the AVA of 2013):

Biked over to Hippie Hill Sunday afternoon to watch the 4-20 festivities. From what I've only recently learned, April 20 at 4:20pm America's stoners all light up at once in mass celebration of the love drug. I expected something like a few hundred ancient flower children shaking their cadaverous booties, with maybe lame-o Wavy Gravy gumming some peace and love platitudes, but what I found was, well, put it this way — the hippies of '67 look positively wholesome put alongside this crew. If it had been advertised as Thug Fest 2013 we would have had truth in advertising. Lots of gangsters and very few hippies of the traditional tie-dyed doofi type, only acres of tough guys and women very unlike the ones who married dear old dad. The entire area between Hippie Hill and the Children's Playground was wall-to-wall criminal intent. A cloud of pot and grill smoke hung over the park. No cops anywhere. Every other person seemed to have an apparatus that boomed out End Times raps heavy on non-sensual sex. “You lost, Pops?” a kid asked me, and it belatedly occurred to me that in my khakis and button down blue shirt I was definitely odd man out. The scene, for me, was kinda nightmarish, truth to tell, and when I saw a large white guy, maybe 40, shirtless, obviously a veteran of many hours on a prison weight pile, his skin festooned with jail tats and a big White Pride announcement across his back, when I saw this guy wade into the multi-ethnic gang-banging mopes with a maniacal grin on his face, I knew bad things were about to happen in Golden Gate Park, the City's erstwhile sylvan retreat, our urban respite of forest and meadow, our natural solace amidst the din and clamor of city life, I made my way to my bike and pedaled home. Two days later, the Chron's comment line was mostly a lot of huffing and puffing about “hippies” having left The City with a huge clean-up bill for a trashed park, and it’s just like the hypocrites to talk about how much they love Mother Earth then leave tons of trash in the trampled park. This thing was not a hippie event, and Marx himself never could have foreseen how many and how fearsome the lumpen have become.

SCORE ONE for Orange Man. "North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World — big progress! Look forward to our Summit."

NIXON used to talk about his "crazy man" theory of international relations, meaning, it seems, make yourself appear so impulsive, so unpredictable that you scare straight the rest of the world. The hitch is both Nixon and Trump have never had to fake it.

EVERY DAY pleas for companionship drift down out of the ethers, electronic notes in a bottle, asking me to approve relationships with people I don't know. These mysterious entities want me to "link-in" with them, or "friend" them. But I approve no one, no one, you hear!!!? Still, though, I hope this small army of the rejected don't think badly of me, don't take the rejection personally. But I'm on FaceBook only to follow a couple of sites, not to chat with strangers,  and I am already so heavily linked I feel besieged much of the time.

IN A RELATED non-development, we note the conspicuous absence of County management reporting as a subject at the many Third and Fifth District candidate forums and interviews. Despite the bloated CEO’s office staff, the County has no mechanism to get crucial problems onto its weekly agendas, hot button stuff like housing, post-industrial jobs at living wages, water, grapes, wind fan nuisances (ok, that one hasn’t even been discussed by any of the candidates), county contracting policy and local-source preference, etc.

TAKE AFFORDABLE HOUSING, for one glaring example of a subject that gets only rhetorical huffing and puffing. Some interesting ideas and proposals have popped up from candidates and some of their supporters. But unless the Board puts somebody in charge of gathering them, organizing them and pushing them every month until completion, they are nothing but the usual hot air.

ON THE OTHER HAND, the $27 million jail expansion project is pretty well planned out already with a schedule that calls for work to begin in 2021 and be completed by August of 2022.

I WOULD OPPOSE a shopping center at Hare Creek (Fort Bragg) if I had a vote, but short of buying the parcel from the Pattons, it's going to be tough to stop, especially by viewshed arguments. As a friend points out, "We have the most beautiful view available from Noyo to Ten Mile and it's all open to the public. So I don't buy that argument, or this argument: the further deterioration of the historic downtown district argument. How on earth will it cause deterioration of the downtown historic district when no one wants to rent the buildings because of the deterioration that has already happened? With or without the Hare Creek Project those downtown buildings won't be rented. I think it's about time something may happen for those who live here and not just the tourists." And isn’t water at the Hare Creek site problematical?

SOUTH FORT BRAGG already suffers the unsightly urban-like fast food sprawl that has terminally blighted Willits and Ukiah, so the best we can probably hope for at Hare Creek is minimized unsightliness of the Boatyard type.

I'D ALSO CAST a conditional Yes on C vote for Coast Hospital, the condition being responsible management, as Louise Mariana's forceful letter on the subject demands. But being for good management and getting it? The twain hasn't met at Coast Hospital for years.

A REAL BAD IDEA being circulated by the Fort Bragg Appropriate Police is breaking the town down into political districts. Fort Bragg is too small for electoral districts, try as the AP would to gerrymander it so they can be assured of city council dominance.

MAJOR EXCITEMENT for me today on a visit to the Kaiser Hospital maze at Terra Linda. I can remember when people prayed to join the "socialistic" Kaiser Plan, a group insurance scheme first deployed by Henry Kaiser to cover all his shipyard workers, and stoutly resisted by the AMA and mossbacks generally. My drop-fall alcoholic uncle did a stint at the Kaiser in San Francisco. I remember asking him when he would get out. "Whenever the half-ass hippie so-called doctor says I can get out, I guess," Unc said, him never one to take the rosy view. My daughter was born at SF Kaiser a few years later, and damned if it wasn't a long-haired, barefoot medico who delivered her. As the world turns.

THE KAISER at Terra Linda is a confusing ad hoc collection of poorly marked 5-story structures arrayed on a hill above the single most desolate school complex I've ever seen, so architecturally oppressive it makes Ukiah High School look like The Tuileries. Forcing a kid into that thing everyday amounts to aesthetic child abuse, but the Terra Linda medium-security prison-like campus features a large banner out front that says, "CAN DO." Can do what? Permanently desensitize every kid herded into its classrooms?

AT THE HOSPITAL COMPLEX, I wandered through two vast structures before I finally found the one confining my friend. He was at the end of a long hall behind one of the un-numbered doors. He said he'd been awake most of the night because someone had popped in and out to do whatever mysterious processes they have to do to make sure they don't get sued, and as I departed a trio of Asian female medical doctors had surrounded friend's bed to perform further mystery procedures probably equivalent in healing power, finally, to the rattling of chicken bones and speaking in tongues.

THE EXCITEMENT? My first "All Genders" restroom. Before I dared enter, I wondered how many genders there are now. I lost count at five. Was I still one of them? Was I not seeing a take-a-number gender dispenser? Could I enter without a ticket? But inside there was the single commode and basin I remember from the quaint days when there were only two genders, strictly defined by the repro gear you were born with.

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE WEEK: "The American Dream has never been to be a public sector employee. If they actually taught kids how to think instead of what to think they might have a legitimate gripe but the fact is our school systems are overloaded with high paid administrators and the State Govt's are pretty much bankrupt because of insane pension obligations. Perhaps they should form a working group to figure out how to get blood out of a stone.”

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