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Valley People (May 23, 2018)

THE ANDERSON VALLEY is saddened to learn of the death of Nick Rossi, 59, of Boonville. He was found dead of an apparent heart attack in his Boonville home on Friday morning. Nick and his brother, Chris Rossi, are the third generation of the Rossi family to operate Rossi Hardware in the center of Boonville, among the oldest consecutively owned family businesses in the Anderson Valley and in Mendocino County.

LUCILLE'S GARDEN. There are many beautiful gardens in Mendocino County, with one of the most exquisitely diverse right here in Boonville cultivated over many years by Lucille Estes. My lousy photographs hardly do it justice, but if you can wrangle an invitation, the pleasure of rambling around in this rare botanical treasure is one more of the many blessings of life in the Anderson Valley.

(Click to enlarge)

DAWN BALLANTINE is opening a bookstore called Hedgehog Books in the Train Depot next door to Boont Berry Farm, and a most welcome addition to mercantile Anderson Valley it is. Hedgehog Books will offer new and used books, "More new if I win the lottery!," Dawn jokes, adding, "I'm trying for a broad base, something for everyone, but I'm a tiny bookshop, so…" Officially open Sunday, June 4th, unofficially now!

AND MORE GOOD NEWS. The former Janie's Place/Libby's in Philo, scrupulously remodeled by Tommy Lemons and Sons, will soon open as the Poleeko Roadhouse, owned and operated by Mark Boudoures, known to many of us as the amiable host at the former Buckhorn. Poleeko will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner or, as Mark puts it, "classic American fare."


  • Watched stock car races at the Boonville Fairgrounds
  • Saw high school football games on the big field behind the Elementary School
  • Walked from the old high school to the Jeans place in Ham Canyon
  • Attended a community dance upstairs in the Farrer Building
  • Remember when the Navarro Mill was operating and the log train to Albion
  • Knew Joe Scaramella when he was 5th District Supervisor
  • Remember the Ukiah ballpark where Safeway is now
  • Remember Slim Pickens calling the Fair rodeo
  • Heard about the Dimaggio Brothers stopping for lunch at Navarro
  • Were here when Jim Jones taught at AV Elementary
  • Remember when Officer Ingram was the CHP's man in the Anderson Valley
  • Bought bootleg spirits on Signal Ridge


  • Remember the Anderson Valley Health Center in the Ricard Building
  • Appeared before Judge Mannix in the Mannix Building
  • Drank a beer with Swoop at the Boonville Lodge
  • Graduated from high school when Mel 'Boom-Boom' Baker was principal/superintendent
  • Played softball at the Boonville Fairgrounds
  • Laughed at the announcer's hippie jokes at the Fair Rodeo
  • Ate at the Navarro Inn at Navarro Beach
  • Bought milk from the Goat Lady in Yorkville
  • Enjoyed a taco at Leo's in Yorkville
  • Bought a drink at the bar in Comptche
  • Attended the Albion People's Fair
  • Visited the Moonie Ranch in Boonville
  • Recall Mrs. Zanoni at the Navarro Store
  • Or the Averys at the Floodgate Store
  • Or Cecil Self at Anderson Valley Market
  • Remember Burl Evans as the CHP's man in Anderson Valley
  • Watched Frank Falleri's feed his catfish at Ray's Resort
  • Remember Francis Lytle at Anderson Valley High School
  • Knew Ted Galletti as 5th District Supervisor
  • Chatted with Dapper Lou Delsol, County Superintendent of Schools
  • Bought stamps from Peggy Bates at the Boonville Post Office


You’re an old timer if…

  • Ray Ingram drove your school bus.
  • You dined at the Philo Café.
  • You remember a barber shop next to the Philo Post Office, when the Philo Post Office was located on the southwest side of Highway 128.
  • You had Leo Sanders or Edna Sanders as a teacher.
  • You drank at the Last Resort in Philo.
  • You remember vineyards flanking Manchester (now Mountain View) Road where the high school is now.
  • You displayed an AVTV flag on your house, showing you’d paid the fee that year for the translator that beamed television signals into the valley.
  • You’re a REALLY old-timer if you took piano lessons from Goldie Ward near Philo.
  • And one for Mendocino County: You’re an old-timer if you enjoyed a skyscraper sundae at Rone’s Candy and Ice Cream in Ukiah.

THE BOONVILLE SCHOOL DISTRICT has settled a mystery claim of $63,000 arranged by the tax-funded private lawyers operating out of Santa Rosa and Eureka called School and College Legal Services. This fortunate consortium represents all of Mendocino County's school districts via a murky JPA (joint powers authority) public-private operation entered into years ago with the Mendocino County Office of Education, whereby these private attorneys get paid public money to solely represent school districts with legal advice that used to be provided free by the Mendocino County Counsel's Office. Parents with claims against school districts of course have to pay their own legal expenses.

I DESCRIBE the Boonville payout as a "mystery" because, according to the Boonville district's public/private lawyer we, the public, have no legal reason to know why the money has been diverted to "a fund for educational services and assessments in the sum of $63,500, which must be used or forfeited by a certain date."

THIS MUCH I was grudgingly told by local school Superintendent Michelle Hutchins after I asked for an explanation of the expenditure under the Public Records Act after I learned that former local school trustee Natalie Matson had filed a complaint against the district and, as they typically have done for years, the district's lawyers simply forked over, although the district admitted no liability, meaning, probably, that a capable lawyer could have beaten back Ms. Matson’s complaint. The money is not going to Ms. Matson but to "educational services and assessments" with, undoubtedly, about half going to the legal masterminds in Santa Rosa who arranged the pay off.

THRILL SEEKERS can read the back and forth between the ava and the district’s lawyer at the ava’s website.

BUYER BEWARE. As a paid up member of public radio KZYX, reluctant division, I know the station has always been mostly run by people who shouldn't be allowed to operate anything more complicated than a roach clip. I know that very few among the paid membership is under the age of 60. I also know that the membership has been stagnant for years, and not only because of the station's legacy blacklist and the, ahem, unpleasantness of paid staff, never creepier than the present crew led by an EST cult character named Stuart Campbell, I have to wonder how much longer the station can continue to pay staff half its annual income of about $600,000? The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, reacting to accumulated complaints about station management, was recently in Philo for a look at the books, and we shall see what we shall see. (Probably more of the same, but the fact that the feds came all the way out here for a B&B week, means even they understand things at the station are awry.) If the yobbos presently in charge at KZYX stay on the present suicidal, cult-like course, public radio Mendo will be no more. 

AV UNIFIED’S BUDGET WOES reported earlier this year appear to have been resolved (again) by the State’s May Budget Revision. Almost every year, the California Department of Education announces dire edu-budget limitations that echo down to every school district in the state, causing consternation and awkward discussions of what might have to be cut, only to be found to be another false alarm. According to a recent story by Willits News’s ace reporter Ariel Carmona, the 2018-2019 California Schools budgetary false alarm was again much ado about nothing. Governor Brown’s “May Revise” budget is “not skimping on funding K-14 education, which the governor said is at “an all-time high.” And, “the May Revise bumps the minimum guarantee from Proposition 98 funding for K-14 education to $78.4 billion, with more than $4,600 per child of extra money compared to 2011-12 levels.”

AV UNIFIED’S Average Daily Attendance budget allocation in 2016-2017 (latest available) was about $16.3k per student for 470 students, k-12. In 2011-12 it was $11.3k per student. So by this latest calculation it should be $11.3k plus $4.6k or around $15.7k per student. According to AV Unified they have “about 500 students.” (470 in 2016-17.) 500 students at $16k per student translates to an annual budget of about $8 million per year.

HOWEVER, it is not likely that these rosier budget numbers will reduce the steaming animosity coming from some members of the AV Unified staff towards Superintendent Michelle Hutchins.

EYES ONLY, ANDERSON VALLEY: Power was out in Navarro last week for much of that Wednesday. The reason, PG&E upgrades. Dave Evans at the Navarro Store, cursing the dark, was offering flashlights to his customers.

IN BOONVILLE, a guy so suspicious of government he's often untethered to our shared reality — uh, check that — reality as shared by some of us — said a spy drone has been cruising Robinson Creek at night. Fire Chief Avila had a more prosaic explanation, speculating the drone was perhaps mapping the stream as part of the planning for a Boonville sewage and water system. Or scanning the bridge replacement zone on Lambert Lane. (These are tough times for paranoids.)

STARK DIFF between the two candidates for County Superintendent of Schools. Ms. Hutchins is right on point, Barrett will just wuv and collabo the heck out of everyone:

From the Willits Weekly May 17, 2018 summary of the debate between Anderson Valley School Superintendent Michelle Hutchins and Ukiah Assistant Superintendent Brian Barrett.

BARRETT: "My style is very collaborative. I am not a top-down person. I work with people — leading from the middle where you're getting information from the people that are actually working with folks and including them in the process and then making sure that process is collaborative. I believe in giving employees the support to be successful, to make sure they're included in goals and improvements."

HUTCHINS: “Leading from the middle" in her opinion, is not the best approach for a County school superintendent. In a Facebook post, she cited the conclusion of a nonprofit organization — RP Group — that "leading from the middle is appropriate for practitioners with few organizational responsibilities."

MS. H points out: "Observant readers will note the position of school superintendent or CEO is not a middle leader. As I stated in all forums, the transition from principal to superintendent is significant. Principals manage the day-to-day operations of the school, staff and student body and report to the superintendent. The superintendent is the CEO of the district, implements the board's vision for education by making day-to-day decisions about programs, spending, staff, and facilities, and reports to a board elected by the people the superintendent leads."

THE UNFAIRLY and relentlessly maligned Boonville superintendent told the forum audience, ”School superintendent is a position of wide influence, ever-changing, demanding and key to the success of a district. When I was promoted to superintendent I learned there was much more complexity to the position. When I moved into being a school district superintendent I realized there are times when you have to be courageous enough to make unpopular decisions. Oftentimes those unpopular decisions are keeping the best interests of the students and the taxpayer in mind. It's not easy to convince people that change is necessary when ‘good enough’ is institutionalized. What I do with my employees is that I work with the evaluative process. We set and establish goals at the beginning of the year and we work together toward meeting those goals by the end of the year."

ALL DAY AT THE BALLPARK on Saturday. Well, it's all day by the time I leave the sepulchral confines of San Anselmo and return to those sepulchral confines, eight hours has past. (Stuff happens in Boonville. Nothing happens in San Anselmo.) I park in North Beach next to the police station on Vallejo where, I'm sad to see, the man in the ticket kiosk has been replaced by a machine. The man in the kiosk was a native of Somalia, a friendly, older fellow who it was enjoyable to chat with if nobody was behind me in the outgoing lane. And now he's gone. Add up all the losses that make for a basic human experience and we are where we are, inhumanity squared. On this busy Saturday, the lot was pretty much empty, and I'll bet lots of people miss the man in the kiosk, and simply refuse to deal with a machine, a machine which took me roughly ten minutes to figure out. You won't be surprised that the lot is owned by the City That Knows How.

THEN, by foot down Broadway to the bay, south on the Embarcadero to the jewel of a ballpark, which I refuse to call by its corporate name, the old commie sniffed, as if anyone could possibly care what he calls it. I passed roughly forty street people, half of them mental hospital quality, the other half old fashioned bums lately upgraded to "homeless." (Frisco's marginal citizens used to live in blocks and blocks of SRO's south of Market. As a working student, I lived happily in one myself at 5th and Brannan bathroom down the hall, clean sheets once a week. Paid about $25 a week for a room overlooking the street. Lots of interesting stories in that building, I can tell you.)

THE STREET NUTS I passed on Saturday varied a lot but they all belonged in a mental hospital of the type we had in this country before we lost our way. One woman held a sign, "Starving Vegan" as she screamed, "Can't you people see that I'm hungry?" Aren't all vegans under-nourished? But this one looked pretty carb-loaded-fleshy to me. A less amusing man was heaping indiscriminate curses on passersby, aiming this one at me. "Bleep you, too, Pops," an age-ist crime I promised myself I'd report to the Appropriate Police as soon as I got back to Boonville.

STEVE ROSENTHAL is unlikely to agree, but I think the Giants are pretty good, and will be a lot stronger when Panik, Cueto and Bumgarner are back. McCutcheon and Longoria are starting to hit, even Belt's been looking more consistent than ever, and the bench seems strong. That replacement kid at second, Gomez, looks like a keeper, and with Pablo playing all over the place and hitting well, the Giants are looking better than a .500 team. Bochy remains a minor prob, but the team seems strong enough even with his predictable blunders. (I wonder if we'll see a squeeze from him this season? Was there one last year?) I walked happy out of the ballpark as Tony Bennett was leaving his heart in San Francisco and the seagulls were landing in force to clean up after the crowd, thinking about the win (this one 9-4) and my fave ballplayer, the truly great Brandon Crawford, jacking a homerun to deep right-center.

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