- County Budget
- Social Costs
- Ed Notes
- Gather Ye Thoughts
- Yesterday's Catch
- Year One
- Future Past
- Beto O'Republican
- Seasoned Greetings
- State Extortion
- Why Read
- Mum's Wisdom
- Wholly Alive
- Complexity & Telephones
- Garden Stroll
- Safe Wall
- Crab Feed
- Found Object
GEORGE HOLLISTER WRITES: Re: “Making matters worse, the major budget information gaps, which we have previously covered in detail, continue to be unaddressed beyond vague savings associated with the magic and unmanaged, unestimated ‘vacancy rate’.”
I was thinking, which many find dubious and dangerous, that the county needs to hire a budget specialist. Give that person a fancy name like CFO. The CEO needs to agree to hiring this person, and be this person’s boss. I don’t believe, the budget questions Mark Scaramella has brought to our attention can be answered by anyone in County government. I suspect the same can be said for some of our County departments as well.
Knowing the budget is so fundamental. Knowing where money is coming from, where it is going, how it is being spent is, and how much we have or don’t have is needed in order to manage, provide oversight, and to set policy priorities. A county CFO should be able to answer the questions Mark Scaramella has, and be of great assistance to the CEO and the county Board of Supervisors.
I know, “it’ll cost too much”. I say BS to that. How much is it costing us being blind?
MARK SCARAMELLA REPLIES: The County already has all the budget staff they need. They are competent enough and do not cost any more than what we now pay. What’s lacking is a mentality to present the budget info in a useful way so that it can be properly understood and used effectively to make policy and decisions. As long as Official Mendo settles for disorganized numbers instead of information, they’ll continue to be blindsided every time a budget problem arises. When the local AV Fire Department first absorbed the non-profit Ambulance Service last year there were major budget questions which had not been raised before because the pre-Fire Department Ambulance Service had enough donations to cover their occasional shortfalls without going into the red. When the CSD’s budget committee (which I’m on) first saw it, there didn’t seem to be any way that the revenues could cover the expenses. Not only that but payments for services were months late, and not reliable or predictable. (We’re talking a budget of less than $100k here.) At my urging (and some, ahem, negativity) we came up with a reasonable (if still imperfect) way to track costs against budget while building up some reserves. We also track types of responses, insurance categories, payment rates, other revenue sources, personnel (mostly volunteers) and expenses (including the ridiculously overpriced Narcan and EpiPens) on a monthly basis. After a year things are starting to stabilize, but it’s still a tightrope walk. But without this kind of attention, the ambulance risks going into a deficit and planning for future staff and equipment costs is essentially just guesswork. This kind of monthly oversight is clearly called for in each county department, but nobody at the County level seems able to even bring it up, despite having existing staff and core data that could be used to do it. It’s not rocket science. The only reason I can think of that they don’t do it is: they don’t want to know. Because if they knew, they’d have to make decisions and they prefer to leave those decisions to staff, even though in many cases staff doesn’t have the information needed to do it either. Like the pre-Fire Department ambulance service, it limps along ok until bumps (or recessions) come along and then everybody has to wing it. Most amazing is the total non-accountability of the tens of millions of Mental health contract dollars. But that’s a topic for another day. (Or the Grand Jury?)
HOMELESS IN SOHUM, an on-line comment:
Homeless folks are the bane of SoHum. Them and dope dealers!
In San Francisco, the Tech Industry is taxed at a higher rate and the proceeds are used to support the thousands of persons who can no longer afford to live in SF, and those persons who ended up homeless, due to whatever personal drama.
SoHum dope farms, where millionaires live, but don’t winter, should also have a tax to support the detritus and fallout of the drug-dealing industry!
An income based tax on pot farming profits, say 15-20%, should help to support the indigent, who currently camp in the Redwood Forests around Redway, and down by the river, outside Garberville.
It is estimated, that the average homeless person, is responsible for the expenditure of $100,000/year in public services, welfare, general assistance, medicare etc. It seems only fair that the main contributors to the problem, dope growers, should foot the bill for the human wrecks that dope dealing produces.
Bleeding heart, but also, lame, do-gooders, like Ordonez, who also serves on the board at SoHum health, have apparently had it with the chronic homeless around Garberville/Redway, and now, with all the Motels full of permanent residents who also have nowhere else to go, there is no physical location to temporarily house anyone at all! (SoHum Health is another example of an organization where they talk about serving the public, but back away from it, again and again.)
SoHum, where the few tend to control the many, is a good example of the attitudes which are exhibited by the homeless themselves! The homeless have the attitude that the population of the community should just see to their needs, give them a place to shelter, but allow dogs and smoking, showers, etc. Everyone wants something, but nobody has perspective, sensibility, or a sense of responsibility, personal or community!
In SF, they passed a tax. In SoHum, a tax will also be necessary, and, someone will have to contribute a space, or a good location, to accommodate the highly valuable section of society discussed here, since no church or public agency wants the responsibility or the exposure attendant with operating a homeless shelter.
Until the dope dealers are held responsible for the social costs of using their products, this never ending problem without a solution, will continue. Taxing all Cannabis Industry Operations to support the homeless is an idea whose time has arrived, in SoHum, and elsewhere…
Or, just hand the homeless person a bus ticket to Mexicali. That will work!
A FEW STATEMENTS of the obvious as the year's disasters wind down and the new year begins with, as realists might say, "cautious optimism" bordering on dark pessimism. Things are precarious enough without Admiral Trump careening around in the wheelhouse like a 4am drunk, but unless the Democrats suddenly go democratic the many rolling catastrophes will continue to gain momentum.
THE STATE LEGISLATURE, dominated by Democrats, is promising to waive community college fees, at least for the first two years. Free is what community colleges used to be. California's state and university systems, too. When I was a kid — wait! please don't run away! — if you could read and write well enough, and had mastered a few basic math procedures coming out of high school, you could enroll at UC Berkeley or any other tax-funded institution of higher learning. The idea was that higher learning made capitalism work better, what with a steady supply of capable cogs at key levers. Lately, though, the community colleges make up, or try to make up, what used to be mastered at the high school level. But that's an important function. If young people are to defend themselves in the world they're stepping into they'll need all the education, self or imposed, they can get.
ARE FRENCH-STYLE mass demonstrations over the ever-rising cost of living likely in the United States? A bunch of us — various shades of lib-lab, heavier on labs — were arguing about it. I took an optimistic stance, citing the brief but hopeful Occupy Movement as an example of how fast Americans can mobilize when a brilliant slogan causes a mass light bulb to snap on in the national skull. I think millions of otherwise despairing Americans were compelled by the Occupy demonstrations to think in self-preserving social class terms, exactly the kind of thinking the oligarchy discourages through its K-12 educational processes and its mass media. A Frenchman knows exactly where he is on the social totem pole and he fights to advance his interests, hence the weekend riots lately everywhere in that country. The American either fears the rich or wants to be like them.
JUST WHEN you might have thought it was impossible to add to the prevalent decadence, "Northern California's first dog exhibition kitchen, JustFoodForDogs, is now open at Town Center, Corte Madera. Fit for human consumption but nutritionally balanced for dogs."
PG&E, in its beginnings, was kinda organized as a public benefit utility, although it quickly became the gigantic, corporate-structured, for-profit, pyro-beast California's power-dependent consumers suffer today. The Public Utilities Commission, to say the least, does not protect PG&E's customers and, it seems, has begun to burn large numbers of us out of our homes. (PG&E is consensus-responsible for 17 of last summer's fires.)
CUE UP the laff track just in case nothing happens, but PUC president Michael Picker has recently announced three options for a revamp of PG&E: (1) Shuffling the people presently at the top of PG&E's power structure; (2) regional subsidiaries; (3) at last become a publicly-owned utility, with PG&E only providing power distribution generated by other entities. Option 3 is best, but only if the present organization of the monopoly is dismantled and unbeholden public commissioners appointed to oversee the apparatus.
THE DISCUSSION DISCUSSES CALL-IN PROTOCOLS.
(KZYX, Monday night, Christmas Eve, 7pm, hosted by W.Dan.)
CATCH OF THE DAY, Dec. 26, 2018
ETHAN BAUER, Crescent City/Willits. Forgery, mail theft, felon with firearm, stolen property.
JOHNY DELGADO, Fort Bragg. Community supervision violation.
JOSHUA DENNEY, Laytonville. Stolen property, conspiracy.
LAURA HERRERA, Talmage. Disobeying court order.
JEFFREY KOSTICK, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
LINDA LONG, Manchester. DUI.
ANDREW MAYNARD, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
WILLIAM PIMENTEL, Nice. Controlled substance, stolen property.
CASEY QUINNAN, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
SETH SMART, Willits. Paraphernalia, felon with firearm, stolen vehicle, conspiracy.
CHRISTINA TORRES, Ukiah. Disobeying court order, probation revocation.
ONE YEAR OF LEGAL POT SALES AND CALIFORNIA DOESN’T HAVE THE BUSTLING INDUSTRY IT EXPECTED. Here’s why...
THE FUTURE PAST
by Alexander Cockburn (January 4, 2000)
Let’s pause a moment before we head for the exits. I’m talking about the spectacular, the ludicrous, the humiliating and uproarious discomfiture of the Y2K doomsayers. How deliciously wrong they were! We’re dealing here with one of the biggest busts since the Edsel.
Are there lessons to be drawn from the fiasco? I suppose the core phenomenon to be looked at is the propensity of the richest, most secure nation in the history of the planet to believe that collapse, utter and awful, is just around the next corner.
This mental outlook is understandable in, say, Poland, which has been invaded and ravaged not a few times in this century. And there are some ethnic fractions here — Hmong, for example — who could be pardoned for having an apprehensive take on the future. But the Hmong weren’t buying all those generators, or laying in enough canned food and bottled water to last through the rest of this century.
Driving by Costco right before New Year’s I saw a couple staggering towards their truck with a pallet load of toilet paper. Few things agitate the American soul more sharply than the possibility of a shortage in this vital commodity. It’s up there with oil and electrical generating capacity. At least one of my Petrolia neighbors — a lawyer invested heavily in gold stocks under the supposition that a) the Arabs wouldn’t have fixed their computers, and so b) there’d be an oil shortage, with c) a rapid decline in living standards, morals, the rule of law and thus d) the collapse of capitalism, requiring e) gold as the only fungible medium of exchange.
I suppose that this profound apprehension is the price tag — a modest one to be sure — that comes with being top dog on the block.
Back at the turn of the 19th century the British had similar worries, and spun endless fantasies about the precise way in which everything would collapse. In l903, a huge bestseller in the UK was a book called When It Was Dark, by Guy Thorne. His particular version of Y2K horror was a fantasy about what would happen if it were shown that Christ never rose from the dead. By means too complex to describe here, the villain engineers a fake archaeological discovery throwing doubt on the Resurrection. Here’s what happens then:
“We find wave after wave of lawlessness and fierce riot passing over the country such as it has never known before — the Irish and the Italians robbing and murdering Protestants and Jews, fathers and mothers treated with contempt by youth, maidens are spat upon and cursed by a degraded populace and assailed with eager sarcasm by the polite and cultured…”
Thorne visits one emblem of collapse after another, and reaches his climax: “The terrible seriousness of the situation need hardly be further insisted on here, Its reality cannot be more vividly indicated than by the statement of a single fact: THE STOCK MARKET IS DOWN TO 65!”
At least here the apprehension derived its strength from a collapse in religious belief. Today I can respect millenarians and indeed fundamentalist Christians who awaited the Rapture.
This same expectation is part of the eschatology of their faith. But the fear that prompted my atheist lawyer-neighbor to buy gold, gasoline, canned goods and toilet paper had nothing to do with the Rapture. He was seized, like many others, with an entirely irrational panic: that technology would fail.
Being an optimist myself, back in September I pondered how best to honor the new millennium and decided to commission works of art, to be placed on the steep, wooded hill behind my house. This plan allowed me to approach Elizabeth Berrian, an artist living in Eureka who makes wire animals. Back in the l840s an early settler in the Mattole Valley where I live reported in his journal that from a hilltop he could espy no less than thirty specimens of Ursus arctos horribilis, aka Ursus ferox — grizzlies to you and me — grubbing about looking for berries and bugs, or hunkered down on the edge of the Mattole, scooping up salmon. We still have mountain lions and brown bears, but the grizzly is long gone, so I commissioned Berrian to weave out of aluminum stainless wire a 9-foot grizzly, destined to haunt my hill.
In the months that followed Ursus, hanging from a pulley in the barn where Berrian works, gradually grew in size to his present majestic nine feet and on December 30 I drove up to Eureka in my truck to pick him up. We tied him on his back to the lumber rack and I headed for home in the darkness.
Halfway up a mountain grade all power in the 68 Dodge truck failed. No lights. No power. No emergency brake. Low compression so the gears wouldn’t hold me. Take my foot off the brake pedal and either I’d roll back to the right and drop off the edge or roll back to the left and drop into a ditch at the base of the cliff. Stay put and some homeward bound logging truck would plow straight through me. Ursus and I waited for the end. And it wasn’t even Y2K yet.
The rancher in the mighty 350 Ford pick-up didn’t hit me. He had a chain and pulled me to a safe spot, handing me his cellphone. The AAA dispatcher 300 miles south in Petaluma patched me through to Jerry, who runs the local breakdown service at Tipple Motors in Ferndale. I told him I had a wire grizzly on my rack and if necessary he should pull me 50 miles home to Petrolia, almost a freebie on my triple A-plus card, one of the greatest bargains in America.
In the end Jerry fixed the truck and Ursus and I puttered south under the stars. The next day Jerry called and said he’d had a call from the AAA office in Petaluma, wanting a photo of “the wild grizzly” reported by the night dispatcher as having been tied to a truck up in Humboldt. On New Year’s Day we unveiled Ursus before an admiring crowd of Petrolians, and now he’s up on my hillside, a ghostly intimation of the past that we should honor more, while simultaneously fearing the future less.
WITH BETO O’ROURKE AS LIGHTNING ROD, CORPORATE DEMOCRATS AIM TO STIFLE CRITICISM
by Norman Solomon
Well-informed public discussion is a major hazard for Democratic Party elites now eager to prevent Bernie Sanders from winning the 2020 presidential nomination. A clear focus on key issues can bring to light the big political differences between Sanders and the party’s corporate-friendly candidates. One way to muddy the waters is to condemn people for pointing out facts that make those candidates look bad.
National polling shows that the U.S. public strongly favors bold policy proposals that Sanders has been championing for a long time. On issues ranging from climate change to Medicare for All to tuition-free public college to Wall Street power, the party’s base has been moving leftward, largely propelled by an upsurge of engagement from progressive young people. This momentum is a threat to the forces accustomed to dominating the Democratic Party.
In recent weeks, Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke has become a lightning rod in a gathering political storm -- largely because of the vast hype about him from mass media and Democratic power brokers. At such times, when spin goes into overdrive, we need incisive factual information. Investigative journalist David Sirota provided it in a deeply researched Dec. 20 article, which The Guardian published under the headline “Beto O’Rourke Frequently Voted for Republican Legislation, Analysis Reveals.”
Originating from the nonprofit Capital & Main news organization, the piece reported that “even as O’Rourke represented one of the most solidly Democratic congressional districts in the United States, he has frequently voted against the majority of House Democrats in support of Republican bills and Trump administration priorities.”
Progressives have good reasons to like some of O’Rourke’s positions. But Sirota’s reporting drilled down into his voting record, reviewing “the 167 votes O’Rourke has cast in the House in opposition to the majority of his own party during his six-year tenure in Congress. Many of those votes were not progressive dissents alongside other left-leaning lawmakers, but instead votes to help pass Republican-sponsored legislation.”
But it’s better to learn revealing political facts sooner rather than later. Thanks to Sirota’s coverage, for instance, we now know “O’Rourke has voted for GOP bills that his fellow Democratic lawmakers said reinforced Republicans’ anti-tax ideology, chipped away at the Affordable Care Act (ACA), weakened Wall Street regulations, boosted the fossil fuel industry and bolstered Donald Trump’s immigration policy.”
The backlash to Sirota’s news article was in keeping with a tweet two weeks earlier from Neera Tanden, the president of the influential and lavishly funded Center for American Progress, who has long been a major ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton. On Dec. 6, Tanden went over-the-top in response to a tweet from Sirota simply mentioning the fact that O’Rourke “is the #2 recipient of oil/gas industry campaign cash in the entire Congress.”
Tanden lashed out via Twitter, writing: “Oh look. A supporter of Bernie Sanders attacking a Democrat. This is seriously dangerous. We know Trump is in the White House and attacking Dems is doing Trump’s bidding. I hope Senator Sanders repudiates these attacks in 2019.”
Such calculated nonsense indicates just how panicky some powerful corporate Democrats are about Bernie’s likely presidential campaign -- and just how anxious they are to protect corporate-oriented candidates from public scrutiny. The quest is to smother meaningful discussions of vital issues that should be center stage during the presidential campaign.
Corporate Democrats are gearing up to equate principled, fact-based critiques of their favored candidates with -- in Tanden’s words -- “seriously dangerous” attacks that are “doing Trump’s bidding.” Such demagogic rhetoric should be thrown in the political trash cans where it belongs.
This is not only about Beto O’Rourke -- it’s about the parade of Democratic contenders lined up to run for president. Should the candidates that mass media and party elites put forward as “progressive” be quickly embraced or carefully scrutinized? The question must be asked and answered.
(Norman Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. He is the author of a dozen books including "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.")
State of California Franchise Tax Board Extortion
Several years ago I received an inheritance when my father left the earth plane at the age of 92. Mechanics Bank in Berkeley, CA located an appropriate tax accountant for me online. After wrangling over the amounts, we reached an agreement with both the IRS and California State Franchise Tax Board, and I paid in full the taxes owed. I received letters acknowledging payment. The following year, I received a message from the California State Franchise Tax Board. They informed me that whereas I had reported a significant amount of income the previous year, they assumed that I must have income the following year, and thus took the liberty of calculating how much I owed in taxes! The Berkeley tax accountant telephoned them to say that their bill to me was based on nothing of substance, that I owed nothing, and that their policy was tantamount to state sponsored extortion. I complained to the Berkeley Mechanics Bank branch manager, because the letter threatened to enjoin my bank account. The branch manager said that it was unlikely that they would do this, but if they did, he would have no choice but to comply since it would be "a legal process", and Mechanics Bank would charge me a $100 fee. I suggested that he report this to the FBI for investigation, to begin the legal process of returning the money of every California citizen who inappropriately sent in money that was not owed, due to being pressured irrationally. In January 2018 I moved to Honolulu, Hawaii. Today, Christmas 2018, I checked my post office box for mail. In my post office box was a letter from the California State Franchise Tax Board demanding payment of the amount that they had somehow calculated out of thin air years ago. I have no idea whatsoever how they obtained my Honolulu post office box number. I have sent their letter to the Berkeley accountant with a demand to "Do something about this insanity!" California residents need to be informed that the California State Franchise Tax Board is engaged in what amounts to state sponsored extortion. And if you move out of the state, they will follow you
Craig Louis Stehr
When I was growing up my mother came up with a lot of true sayings:
- People are dumb as a box of rocks, so you can’t plan for stupid.
- You don’t dress to impress. You dress to show your respect to others.
- The fastest way to failure is to claim you are a victim of some accident of life.
- Life’s not fair. Get over it and move on.
- Don’t let your career find you. You find what you were made to do.
- Knowledge comes from school. Maturity sometimes comes with age. Wisdom comes from the Bible.
- Something worth doing is seldom easy.
- If you give a hobo (homeless of the time) a quarter you guarantee one thing. He will be back for another quarter.
- Most people want to feel good, so they vote with their hearts not their brains.
I added: Your logic can be perfect, but your facts could be wrong.
Growing up in Redding we couldn’t ride horses in the field until the first rain because a spark from the horseshoe might start a fire. We could only ride on the dirt road in the summer. Not fun.
This year I saw someone mowing tall dry grass with a power mower in July. I thought about the box of rocks.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
As I get older I have increasing problems dealing with complexity. I believe the same is true for most elderly people. The population generally is aging. So why do they keep making health insurance more and more complex? Do we really need to have the choice of 50 slightly differing plans? I just sent in an application for medicaid for my wife – a 3 inch thick sheaf of paperwork that cost me 4 days of work to find and photocopy. Computers have made it possible for government and corporations to make everything mind-numbingly complex and totally beyond understanding. At the same time, computer makers and programmers can’t standardize the simplest things. As was mentioned above, you can’t call a business and talk to a person without spending 15 minutes wading through a phone tree, and if you do they are in India reading off a script and you can’t understand them or get a useful answer. But at the same time, every telemarketer and robocaller on the planet can call you continually even though you have a cell and are also on the do not call list. Leading to the present situation where I seldom answer my phone unless the person is on my call list and their name pops up. Unfortunately, corporate callers like in health care are always calling from different numbers, so I miss a number of important calls. The lack of interest by phone companies and governments about doing anything at all about this situation is making telephones totally useless. If I wasn’t married I likely wouldn’t even own one.
GET UP, GET OUT
Beautiful day for a walk outside!
This is a great time of year to make a pact with yourself to get outside more. We are lucky to have this rare mild climate that allows for so many stunning plants and animals to thrive on our area of the coast. Consider becoming a member of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens and add some beauty to your new year! All levels of membership include: - Free admission to the Gardens, year-round (special events require additional admission)
- Free, or reduced admission and other discounts at more than 300 other gardens nationwide!
- Guests/clients of members qualify for the current Member Guest admission rate of $10 per visit per guest when accompanied by the member at the time of ticket purchase
- Discount on workshops and classes
- Free access to seasonal guided walking tours including Rhododendron, MCBG Collections, Birding, and Mushroom Walks
- Invitations to special "member-only” events like our Members-Only Plant Sales (discounts on all plants, complimentary wine, beer, and bites)!
- Discounts in The Garden Store and the Nursery
- “Members-Only” sandwich and ice cream loyalty cards for Rhody'sGarden Cafe
- Access to a special offer from Garden Design magazine and more depending on the level of membership (business memberships available too) you choose. For full details and to sign up online visit
Bloom Seasons at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens!
February, March, April
Rhododendrons, camellias, daffodils, magnolias, flowering cherry, and Pacific Coast Iris
May, June, July
Rhododendrons, heritage roses, perennials, succulents and cacti, lilies, heaths, summer heathers, coastal and forest wildflowers
August, September, October
Dahlias, heritage roses, heathers, begonias, fuchsias, hydrangeas, perennials at their peak bloom
November, December, January
Late perennials, winter heaths and heathers, camellias, magnolias, azaleas, early rhododendrons, grevilleas, and wild mushrooms
All year long
Organic vegetables, quiet forests, fern canyons, rare conifers, stunningocean views from the Cliff House, spring and fall bird migrations, whale watching with peak migration in the winter and spring.
THE WALL THAT WILL MAKE AMERICA SAFE AGAIN
SATURDAY'S GARCIA GUILD/MANCHESTER COMMUNITY CENTER CRAB FEED.
This Saturday, December 29th is the 11th annual Garcia Guild/Manchester Community Center crab feed. Again this year, Sheriff Tom Allman will be the live auctioneer. There is also a wonderful silent auction and the always popular dessert auction. Our guest chef is the wonderful Lynn Derrick from Queenie's Roadhouse Cafe in Elk. Lynn has graciously agreed to prepare her famous award winning chowder along with her secret ingredient salad dressing. Lynn helps at so many special dinners for organizations up and down the coast …. thank you some much Lynn (aka Queenie). Advanced tickets are $40 and tickets at the door are $5 more or $45. For advanced tickets or for more information about the crab feed call (707) 882-1750.