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MCT: Thursday, January 24, 2019

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"WELL BEFORE NEVER" — Highlights & Lowlights from the Board of Supervisors meeting, Tuesday, January 22

by Mark Scaramella

The Supervisors have been slow to establish their “master” meeting schedule for this year, so slow the Sheriff appeared to advise them to get off the dime.

Sheriff Allman: “I am an elected official not a department head so you cannot fire me today. But let me say clearly that we are in the third week of January and the department heads and the elected officials do not have a Board calendar of when you are meeting. The citizens, the department heads, the elected officials -- we need a decision to be made today. We need regular meetings. Let's get on with the government’s business because it's not just your time in this room, it’s elected officials and department heads and citizens who have concerns and who schedule around you.”

The Sheriff continued with a wistful remark he probably knew was fanciful: “Being consistent with your schedule is important for the efficiency of government.”

“Efficiency of government”? In Mendo?

Supervisor John Haschak, apparently inspired by "efficiency," suggested, “One item I was thinking of to make the meetings move along a little more quickly is to adhere to a three-minute policy for supervisors along with members of the public.”

Board Chair Brown replied, “We do have a policy in our rules of procedure and it isn't -- I mean, you can go to the rules and read it…”

Supervisor John McCowen: “Rule 19.”

(Rule 19: “…No member shall speak more than twice to the same question (unless entitled to close the debate) nor longer than five (5) minutes at one time, without leave of the Board, and the question upon granting the leave shall be decided by a majority vote of all the members of the Board without debate.”)

Brown: “Yes, it's Rule 19. And that's why Supervisor McCowen knows because he sometimes violates it.”


Note: They all violate it. McCowen is hardly the only transgressor. (Makes us old timers yearn for the re-institutionalization of high school rhetoric where, once upon a time, young people learned to say what they had to say clearly and concisely. Rhetorically, as in every other area of American life, there has been huge deterioration.)

In the end, at Supervisor Haschack’s insistence, they decided to add one additional meeting every two months making their already light schedule, imposed immediately after giving themselves a huge raise, slightly less light. Later in the meeting the Supervisors decided that they’d probably use one of the added meetings for a pot permit marathon, perhaps to accommodate the newly re-formed pot-ad hoc committees (See below).


The Pot Permit Program People rambled through a windy, self-serving presentation of the long-stalled pot permit process during which newly hired Pot Permit Program Manager Sean Connell claimed credit for approving about 20% of the permit applications so far — most of which were approved well before his tenure in the weeks after the farcical program’s rollout. Since then applications have slowed to a trickle, probably because most growers immediately concluded the licensing process was impossible for them, impossibly expensive, impossibly labyrinthian and with no guarantee of completion.

Predictably, the pot program administrators blamed much of the backlog problem on the applicants themselves, complaining that the applicants hadn’t provided this or that technical document. The PPPP (staff) never got around to providing any specific un-stall recommendations that Supervisor Ted Williams asked for at the last meeting, nor did Supervisor Williams ask for any by way of follow-up.

Supervisor Williams did, however, ask about the PPPP’s mystery budget. For months it’s been common knowledge that the mostly unmanaged Pot Permit Program budget has been seriously in the red because to them every problem can be addressed, if not solved, by hiring more staff to drive around from pot garden to pot garden in more new pickup trucks to keep track of what they like to call “our applicants.”

Supervisor Williams: "So far I think we have been dealing with the regulatory aspects and the fallout of Proposition 64 [pot legalization in California] in Mendocino County. It has caused a lot of farmers to struggle. I see that pattern continuing. I'm curious, when will this endeavor [the pot permit program] reach a breakeven point for the county? Where, for every dollar we put out, we've received an equal amount in taxes? I know I can't hold you to that, but what sort of timeframe are we projecting? A few weeks? A few years? Never?”

Pot Permit Program Manager Sean Connell: “I will be honest here, I'm a little new in this position to give you that exact answer. But I do think that we will break even well before never. [Well before The 12th of Never?] That's my goal, to break even well before never — and in a timely fashion. As far as when that [well before never] will be, supervisor, I don't have a direct answer to that.”

Mr. Connell was inadvertently answering nearly every schedule question the Board has asked of Mendo’s entire management class.

Supervisor: “When do you expect to have that done?”

Mendo Official. Pick one at random. “Oh, well before never! Certainly before then. My goodness, never is a long, long time. Heck, we might all be dead before Never. But if you wait right here I'll get back to you on that."


During the Board’s discussion of the formation of another yet another ad hoc pot committee to discuss another round of modifications to the obviously failed pot permit program, Board chair Carre Brown asked Supervisor Dan Gjerde if he wanted to be on the pot ad hoc committee.

"I would volunteer,” responded Gjerde, “but I'm afraid I would disappear afterwards."

The roomful of marijuana people erupted in laughter. Gjerde was referring to the two previous supervisors — Tom Woodhouse, and Dan Hamburg — who conspicuously and abruptly departed the Board of Supervisors in mid-pot-ad hoc, both of the former supervisors suffering varieties of mental collapse. The other member of those prior ad-hocs, Supervisor John McCowen noted that he was still on the Board; whatever psycho-effects the pot ad-hoc committee experience may have had on McCowen has not yet manifested itself in his public performances, unless you count his personal commitment to procedural tedium as a mental health indicator.

After considerable aimless discussion Supervisor Williams suggested breaking the ad-hoc in half, one to address yet more tweaks to the cultivation ordinance and another to address cannabis economic development. (Hint to Supes, the easiest way to do that would be to get out of the way of existing small growers trying to go legit…)


The marijuana people in the room have long griped about the County’s "minimum tax" on marijuana permit holders which applies to pot permit holders who do not grow any pot in a given year. The pot people say the minimum tax punishes people who are trying to get with the program. And, as Supervisor Ted Williams noted, if the County is getting a lot of money from the minimum tax (meaning no pot grown), then the pot program is a failure.

CEO Carmel Angelo told the board that she had spoken to County Treasurer Shari Schapmire who estimated the minimum pot tax revenue at a whopping $3 million so far — i.e., failure. On its face, if the number is really that big (we doubt it, it sounds like Ms. Schapmire may be including more than the minimum tax receipts), it means that a lot of the permit applicants with some kind of preliminary approval have yet to actually grow much local pot — and most of the blame for that can be put at the feet of the County’s bizarrely complicated, sludge-like pot permit program.

CEO Angelo then said that now that the minimum tax is in place and generating so much revenue “it would be hard to eliminate that tax.”

Supervisor John McCowen agreed, adding, "To start wiping out taxes when we don't even know where we stand with the program in terms of revenue — and frankly that's one thing I assumed at midyear [now] we would be getting some numbers — but it's probably something we should track on a monthly basis: what are the expenditures to support the cannabis program by department and what are the revenues that we have been receiving? And that seems to be very much an open question."

McCowen then changed the subject, not pursuing the “open question.”

That open question — along with everything else that should be reported “on a monthly basis” — will remain open for who knows how long. In fact, monthly reporting of any kind will probably begin about the same time the pot program will break even: Well Before Never.

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THE FOLLOWING ITEM appeared in the CEO's report for Tuesday's meeting of the Supervisors:

“Supervisors Academy — Human Resources will be kicking off our new Mendocino County Supervisor Skills Academy in February 2019. The Supervisor Skills Academy is a five month program which includes eight classes designed to help our supervisors develop and enhance their skills and gain the knowledge needed to be successful in their positions. Instructors from Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, Mendocino College, Mendocino County Executive Leadership Team and others will train on the following topics: High Performance Organization, DiSC (workstyle assessment), Effective Communication, Teamwork & Building Trust, Time Management, County Employment Policies, Performance Management & the Evaluation Process, Facilitation Skills, and Managing Change. After completion of all classes within a two-year period, attendees will receive a certificate presented by Human Resources and the Board of Supervisors recognizing their accomplishment. Visit the Human Resources training page for more information:

mendocinocounty.org/government/humanresources/countywide-employee-trainings”


ON FIRST READING, given the reference to “Mendocino County Supervisor Skills Academy” we thought this was some kind of wasteful training for the elected members of the Board of Supervisors. But County officials soon clarified:

CEO Carmel Angelo: “This training is not for our county elected officials. This training is for county employees who supervise other county employees. Mendocino County’s leadership initiative focuses on supporting recruitment and retention through staff development. This is a benefit to our employees and to the county in total. Again, this training is not for our county elected officials. I copied in Human Resources Director Heidi Dunham to answer your additional questions. Thank you.”

SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS also responded similarly to our inquiry, pointing out what CEO Angelo had pointed out about "supervisors."

AND COUNTY HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR Heidi Dunham added: “I will provide you with the cost information for the training academy first thing tomorrow morning.”

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A NICE LITTLE SCANDAL is brewing in Willits involving two sons of Willits High School principal, Michael Colvig. The Colvig boys allegedly took sexual liberties with two girls during a drunken teen "party." When one of the girls reported the episodes to their father, a legally mandated reporter, he is said to have replied something like, "I'm responding to this as a parent, not as a principal; I'm putting them on restriction, getting them counseling" and so on.

THE PRINCIPAL'S FAILURE to act on behalf of the violated girls, has him in serious trouble, so serious he's been charged and will soon appear in Superior Court to try to explain away a pair of misdemeanor charges for failing to report "child abuse." Rape, though, if rape is what occurred, is a lot more serious than a technical "failure to report child abuse." It will be interesting to see how our local justice system handles this one.

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THE MENDOCINO COUNTY CORONER’S OFFICE on Tuesday identified a van driver killed Friday evening in a Highway 101 crash near Willits when another motorist crossed into his lane.

Michael Andrus, 51, of Kelseyville, died in the head-on crash, officials said. Andrus had been driving south last Friday near the Reynolds Highway north of Willits when a northbound pickup drifted into his lane, causing the collision.

Pickup driver Ramon Machado, 71, of Leggett suffered major injuries and was taken to Adventist Health Howard Memorial Hospital in Willits.

The CHP continues to investigate the crash.

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THE CHP is investigating a hit-and-run that killed 68 year old Stuart May, a resident of Covelo. May was found dead Monday evening near his damaged Huffy bicycle on Highway 162 north and east of the town. The CHP is asking for help in finding the person responsible for May's death.


CORONER'S CASE INVOLVING APPARENT HIT & RUN WITH A VEHICLE IN COVELO

"On Monday, Janaury 21st, around 6:21 pm, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office was dispatched to the 26000 Block of Mendocino Pass Road in Covelo regarding a Coroner's Investigation.

Upon arrival, the investigating deputy was informed by the California Highway Patrol that an adult male, later identified as Stuart May, 66 years of age out of Covelo, was deceased.

The investigation revealed that an officer of the Round Valley Tribal Police was patrolling the area when he noted a damaged bicycle laying along the roadway. The officer stopped to investigate and found the decedent laying to the side of the roadway.

The preliminary CHP investigation indicated the damage to the bicycle appeared to have been caused by a vehicle collision and that agency initiated a felony 'hit and run' investigation.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office was able to determine the decedent may have been living in the Covelo area for a year or more but was unable to locate his residence or where he has been living.

The Sheriff's Office is asking for the public's assistance in locating the decedent's residence as well as assisting the California Highway Patrol in reconstructing the decedent's recent activity as part of their investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Mendocino County Sheriff's Communications Center at 707-463-4086 or the Coroner's Division at 707-463-4421."

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FORT BRAGG TO GET TOUGHER ON TOWN DRUNKS

(City Council Meeting Agenda for Monday, January 28, 2019)

Agenda Item Title: “Receive Report and Consider Introducing by Title Only and Waiving the First Reading of Ordinance No. 944-2019 Adding Section 9.40.030 to Chapter 9.40 Public Drunkenness of Title 9 (Public Peace, Safety and Morals) of the Fort Bragg Municipal Code to Prohibit Possession of Open Containers in Public Places

Issue:

“The City of Fort Bragg’s current Public Drunkenness Ordinance makes it a citable offense to partake of alcoholic beverages on public streets, sidewalks and other public facilities such as parks and community centers. The Ordinance also makes it illegal to partake of alcohol in an automobile that is on the street, alley or highway.

“The way the Ordinance was written, an officer must see the individual partaking of alcohol or prove that the individual is intoxicated in public. The proposed addition to that Ordinance allows for a citation if a person is in possession of an open container in public. The proposed Ordinance also allows private property owners (with two or more units) to prohibit open containers in parking lots, so long as the prohibition is clearly noticed.

“Consistent with our current Public Drunkenness Ordinance, the proposed additional clause expands on and clarifies the exception for special events on public property in which the City has granted a limited use or encroachment permit.

“Analysis: The modification to Chapter 9.40, Public Drunkenness is consistent with California Business and Professions Code and provides our Police Officers an additional tool to deal with disruptions and complaints about individuals consuming alcohol in public without the necessity of witnessing the consumption of an alcoholic beverage.

The Public Safety Committee reviewed the proposed change to the Public Drunkenness Ordinance on December 19, 2018 and recommended bringing it forward to the full City Council for action.

“Recommended Action: Introduce by title only and waive the first reading of Ordinance No. 944-2019 adding Section 9.40.030 to Chapter 9.40 Public Drunkenness of Title 9 (Public Peace, Safety and Morals) of the Fort Bragg Municipal Code.


City Code 9.40.030 - Possession Of Open Containers Prohibited

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to drink or possess upon his person an open container of any intoxicating liquor upon any sidewalk, street, alley or other public place in the city, or in other areas commonly held open to the public use, except:

(1) Public streets or sidewalks on which the city has granted an encroachment permit for a sidewalk cafe, beer garden or equivalent use that includes on-site alcohol sales; or

(2) Special events if the city has granted a limited use permit or other permit that, during the event, authorizes or permits persons attending the event to consume alcoholic beverages in areas where such consumption/possession is otherwise prohibited by this section. Special event includes, but is not limited to, the following types of activities: a neighborhood block party, barbecue, picnic, fundraiser, community event or any other type of similar social event.

B. It shall be unlawful for any person to consume any alcoholic beverage or to have in his or her possession any open container of beer, wine, or any alcoholic beverage, or intoxicating liquor in any private parking lot that is located on property containing two or more residential dwelling units if such parking lot is posted with a sign prohibiting the possession of an open container of an alcoholic beverage or the consumption of an alcoholic beverage.

C. The owner of property containing two or more dwelling units may prohibit the possession of an open container of an alcoholic beverage or the consumption of an alcoholic beverage within any parking lot on such property by posting a sign in plain view at or near each driveway to the parking lot that sets forth such prohibition substantially in the following form:

“Possession of an open container of an alcoholic beverage or consumption of an alcoholic beverage is prohibited in this parking lot. Sec. 9.40.030 of the Fort Bragg Municipal Code.”

Such sign shall be no smaller than seventeen inches by twenty-two inches in size, shall contain lettering at least one inch in height, and shall be mounted so that the lower edge of the sign is at least four feet, and the top edge does not exceed seven feet above ground level. The property owner shall have sole responsibility for the construction and maintenance of such sign.

D. This section does not apply when an individual is in possession of an alcoholic beverage container for the purpose of recycling or other related activity.


NOTE TO COAST DRUNKS: Tip/Loophole: If you’ve got a can of beer in your hand in a private parking lot and you see an officer approaching, turn the other way and quickly chug it, crush the can, then turn around, stand at attention, and in your best official impersonation announce: “I wazh zhust on my way to rezchycle zhis can, Mishture Pozhishman.”

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BOONVILLE QUIZ TONIGHT, THURSDAY! It will be sunny and warm. And, as it is the 4th Thursday of the month, Boonville’s General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz returns for another evening of fun and brain exercises. It all takes place at Lauren’s Restaurant and we shall get going at 7pm prompt. Hope to see you there. Cheers, Steve Sparks, The Quiz Master. PS. There is a 5th Thursday this month so the next Quiz is three weeks from tomorrow - on February 14th - an evening of learning and love!?

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SOMETHINGS STUCK IN THE SOUTH COAST SEWER (PART 3) — The Revenge of Bonnie Adshade

by Spike McGuiness

So, the District has seemingly calmed down (and the constituents of the Zones 3 and 4 could care less); Marshall Sayegh has gone to greener pastures, (reportedly somewhere in Contra Costa County), the Grand Jury is satisfied with the response from GCSD. The State Regional Water Quality Board headed by Charles Reed is satisfied all of the group have satisfied the terms of all three discharge permits (the golf course GCSD and the Sea Ranch all have a separate waste discharge permit) “ and we assume you rural folks up there can just get along”, but there is one looming grossly behind the scenes outlier… Bonnie Adshade, the spawn of Ted Adshade, and the unnecessary battles of the future had not yet been shown. Secretary to the board of GCSD, and only “secretary” with financial reporting and booking upkeep, and a position that “works directly for the District Manager”; she filled the position in a most creative if not a destructive way as it turned out. And Pat Bailey, (remember Pat Bailey?) and the Independent Coast Observer went underground so to speak…silent on all matters of wastewater treatment or an operational plan, within the District. It seems funny that when the proverbial shit hits the fan, the press is interested, but when it all calms down, there are other things of interest, especially the Gualala Municipal Advisory Committee; a group of folks attempting to do something constructive in a community of one’s who would like to see the respect of a semi-governmental agency of sorts. Still, Bonnie Adshade was constructing a methodology that would require an auditor to figure out… That is unless folks were watching, listening and discussing as it developed.

The last Board member to be elected to the Board seems to have been James Derbin, back around 2004. All others were by appointment to a seemingly acceptable Board who were by appearance and action interested in “filling in the vacancies” created by leaving board members. Undoubtedly it is very difficult to obtain volunteers to fill such positions and the cost of elections can seem prohibitive. One board member as I recall who has since passed stated that the Nepotism and coercion created by Bonnie Adshade caused her to quit, and that was around 2010 or 2012. Jerry Orth was reportedly having problems with her for some unknown reason and her subsequent apparent want to control the operations side of the District Manager. Instead of being focused on the important operations of the sewer district, Mr. Orth was saddled with various claims reportedly driven by Bonnie Adshade regarding performance issues. It has been revealed that through many board meetings, Mr. Orth was the target of seemingly minor accusations; going to the post office too many times in a day, vehicle expenses (previously approved by Ted Adshade), personnel behavior of being too gruff with the two assistant operators under his direction, and on and on and on. Not apparent at the board meetings was there a congratulatory celebration of Mr. Orth’s settling of the payment deal with the golf course, and how efficient the wastewater system was working. Although as the records reveal, there were two board members who supported Mr. Orth’s value as a manager, an operator, and a dedicated to the district type of worker. All for naught though as these board members frustrated at the continual undercurrent delivered by Bonnie Adshade reportedly resigned over time due to the frustration of the continual argumentative atmosphere driven by the secretary of the board. Seemingly absent from the board meetings were district constituents and the local press (as verified by non-reporting on district issues by the local weekly newspaper on the south coast).

Travelling back to the issue of Nepotism, there were several recorded instances that appeared so obvious that even a blind man with a red tipped cane could see. Both wastewater operators working for the district under Mr. Orth happened to be brothers. The mother of these brothers was on the board, and ultimately became the chair of the board. Terry Gross of Mendocino County grading ordinance fame is recorded as the district’s attorney. Her revealed stance regarding having relatives working under a board member and subsequent board chair was something to the effect “that in rural areas such as this it is not uncommon for relatives to work under one another” (reportedly paraphrased). Which brings up the issue of recusal by the board member when dealing with the two blood relatives. The records do not indicate dedicated actions of recusal by the board member and subsequent board chair, nor enforcement of the Brown Act recusal requirement dealing with such issues. Information provided reveals that the spokesperson of the board of directors was Bonnie Adshade who has been referred to as the acting attorney, in Terry Gross’s absence, interpreter of The Brown Act, acting personnel manager, and “provider of facts” related to the information provided to the board for the purpose of the board’s decision-making process. And it has been stated no one really wanted to upset her apple cart for fear of all sorts of retribution further down the road. It has been stated that as secretary, Bonnie Adshade provided input to all voting decisions by the board; a powerful position standing right in front of the board without the slightest inkling that the force behind the position was not of integrous means. Ethics out the window, the district operated under the subliminal and obvious suggestions made in the interest of the resounding Adshade name.

Back to Mr. Orth and his subsequent demise. One of the brothers operating under Mr. Orth had achieved the required operator wastewater treatment grade status to legally operate the sewer plant. This brother would legally be able to run the system, and act in Mr. Orth’s absence as the district’s lead operator/quasi manager. It has been reported that the state of California is very picky about having the right certification in position of a treatment facility and its collection system. So, with this operator standing in the wings, Mr. Orth’s working position became very fragile, and subsequently through gyrations of what is reported as seemingly a case of board harassment ushered forth by Bonnie Adshade, Mr. Orth retired from his position and left the employment of the district. Obviously, in steps the one brother accepted by the board to be the new district manager. The record reveals that the district operations became rather mundane under this manager’s tenure. It has been asked why would one be motivated to actually do anything for the benefit of the district or out of the ordinary with the implied non-recused support of one’s mother sitting as board chair, and the board’s siren, Bonnie Adshade setting the table?

Well, as time would tell, the son of the board chair reportedly got bored and left the job for “greener pastures”. Mom gave up position as board chair and after a while resigned from the board. But still, the person of the power hour that remained behind was none other than Bonnie Adshade who as it has been reported was up for another round of creating another board to control and to find another legal operator/district manager.

Next up: Part IV: “It’s a brave new world, or how to flush without having it back up”

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MENDOCINO COUNTY FARM BUREAU CHOSEN As A Winner In The American Farm Bureau Federation County Activities Of Excellence Program

Ukiah, CA.- January 22, 2019. Mendocino County Farm Bureau (MCFB) applied to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) County Activities of Excellence (CAE) program in September of 2018 for our centennial celebration event that we hosted in June of 2018.

The AFBF CAE Awards celebrates unique, volunteer-driven programming at the local level. The CAE program categorizes county activities into the following areas: Education and Ag Promotion, Member Services, Public Relations and Information, Leadership Development and Policy Implementation.

AFBF received over 100 entries across all membership categories and only 24 applicants were accepted to participate in the Farm Bureau CAE Showcase at the 2019 AFBF Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show that was held in New Orleans, Louisiana from January 11th-14th. MCFB is proud to announce that our application was selected to attend and was also the only application from California that was accepted!

MCFB staff participated with a booth that highlighted our centennial celebration at the AFBF annual meeting and had the opportunity to discuss our event with some of the 6,000 attendees. “This was an amazing opportunity to talk to farmers and ranchers from throughout the United States about the history of Mendocino County agriculture and the planning process for hosting a memorable centennial recognition event,” stated MCFB Membership and Marketing Coordinator, Lindy Kersmarki.

Since AFBF was celebrating their centennial anniversary in 2019, it was fitting to be able to highlight the bountiful agricultural history of Mendocino County over the past 100 years and to provide recommendations to other state and county Farm Bureau organizations that are working on planning centennial events of their own.

For more information on MCFB, please visit: mendofb.org

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RE: PG&E BANKRUPTCY. Bad idea. Not many people know that there’s a strict pecking order or priority to bankruptcy creditor claims that usually leaves employees, suppliers, shareholders, victims and claimants holding a very depleted if not empty bag as “unsecured creditors,” while giving first dibs to creditors higher on the food chain, whether the bankruptcy is reorganization or going out of business. As we understand it, the first people to get paid are the IRS. Next is the lawyers who are handling the bankruptcy (who, surprise, are in the prime position to know just how much the company’s assets are worth). Next are executives with formal contract provisions. Then come the “secured creditors,” i.e., banks, insurance companies, the state of California, and any other lenders who have some kind of legalized collateral identified with their creditor claim. Employees are entitled to actual wages for hours worked, but not to severance, pensions, healthcare or other non-wage debts. Everyone else is considered an “unsecured creditor” including employees with claims. So, if any assets remain after the “secured creditors” are paid off (frequently there are none), they are divvied up among the unsecured creditors usually at pennies on the dollar. And in PG&E’s case, the unsecured creditors would likely include any compensation ordered to be paid to fire victims via successful lawsuits. I have not seen a single useful assessment of PG&E’s proposed bankruptcy filing that covers these dire provisions, leaving the public at large to think that maybe PG&E deserves to go bankrupt because of their criminal mismanagement. They certainly do deserve to go bankrupt, but not if it means shorting everybody who needs to be paid back. (Mark Scaramella)

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COAST HOSPITAL BOARD EVALUATES EDWARDS

Special MCDH Bd. Mtg. CEO Bob Edwards Performance Review

A special MCDH Board meeting has been called for tomorrow, Jan 24, at 5pm in the Redwoods room at the hospital. Following a closed session, the board will report on Edward's performance review and give an update on union negotiations.

There is also the regularly scheduled Board meeting on Thursday, Jan. 31. Will send info about the agenda when I receive it. Mike Ellis, CFO, promised to provide the legal expenses incurred thus far in the Hardin v MCDH case at the Jan 31 Board meeting. He made that commitment at the public meeting of the Finance Committee on Jan 8 and again at the Planning Committee meeting on Jan. 22.

Margaret Paul, Healthy Hospital Supporter

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ALBION IN THE 1970S — CONTINUED

Editor,

A lot of locals were put off by the hippies but we had friends in the Hamms brothers of Middle Ridge who remembered the 1906 earthquake. They remembered and supported the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW/Wobblies) and were stoked to find young “wobs.” Fred Shandel invented logging equipment and had an international junkyard and was friendly. When we arrived in 1970 there were no hippies on the Albion/Little River Fire Department. That all changed as my pals from Berkeley, Oliver and Rick Ricca, became "chiefs." Neil and Gary from Spring Grove were EMTs, et cetera. The Shandels and the Lawrence family appeared tolerant and indeed Bill Shandel who bought Spring Grove from Bo did a great job of selective logging and sold the property back to "the people" on favorable terms.

Brian and Lori Shea ran a successful horse ranch. Larry Miller became a "high linter" fisherman as did Smiling Bob and the young prodigy "Salmon," son of River, who sadly died on a vacation dive in Baja. Another young prodigy appeared in the person of Eric Beckeridge who rebuilt a huge Mercedes engine while still a child. K. Medley owned the Albion grocery and was a mother to us all.

The old hippie-hating Fred at Fireside Market on the coast side of Highway 1 passed to the "Kerry Jane Market" who liked, hired and gladly sold to the new settlers. (Thank you Beth Bosque for the name and magazine.)

Dr. Hal Ginsberg, always a friend, and his wife Naomi founded the "community center" located in the old Albion high school. Table Mountain and the Whale School boomed with Pam Abel, Bill Heil, Luna Linda Perkins, Leslie, Peter Matlin, Walter Sneider, etc. putting collective soul and talent on the line. Bill Chase, a "brother," founded a community called Riverdale and later sold it. He went back to the land in Ireland and bought a potato farm. So it went.

Early arrivals were [illegible, looks like “jontwiner”], Michael and Dobby Pickle, Ti Farm, the country women, Gloria Dike, Donna Finer, Bernadino, Charles/Larry Navarro, Ranger Rick. The great builder Cliff Sanders and beautiful Kathy Mooney, Mike Riley and two fabulous new Zealand ladies. One married Riley, the other Larry Miller. It was true. The locals found out that the hippies could indeed work. However, it was the herb that melted the hard edges.

Soon our redneck brothers found a pretty penny could be made in the agricultural sector. Hippie boys and girls fell in love with redneck boys and girls and produced children called hipnecks. Albion Strong became the Albion Nation (credit name to Captain Fathom.) Some fought in, most fought against the war in Vietnam. Food stamps arrived. The sea urchin business began. Mike Riley, Billy Walsh and the [illegible, looks like “Fink”] Brothers made water tanks. no you know what that is Bruce Lee Fink Brothers made water tanks is that think I can't read that this and know it looks like FIA candy or maybe FI and gay and I think looks like they. Bobby Markels’ son Alex, the young giant, got a job tearing down the largest building in Fort Bragg, the old International Hotel. Alex hired the whole IWW membership. Beautiful redwood boards, beams and window frames in new age hotels. The old co-op grocery across the street experienced a slight boon from our beer and sandwich trade.

More to follow.

Alan ‘Captain Fathom’ Graham

Albion

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DEATH OF DOE, FAWNS BEING INVESTIGATED IN REDWOOD VALLEY

California Department of Fish and Wildlife is investigating a possible wildlife crime in Redwood Valley this month after finding the remains of six deer left on a road in Redwood Valley.

ukiahdailyjournal.com/2019/01/23/death-of-doe-fawns-being-investigated-in-redwood-valley/

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CATCH OF THE DAY, January 23, 2019

Adelman, Campbell, Gomez, Humphrey

LESLIE ADELMAN, Ukiah. Criminal threats, probation revocation.

ROBERT CAMPBELL, Ukiah. Trespassing, parole violation.

GASPAR GOMEZ, Little River/Ukiah. Burglary of inhabited dwelling, disorderly conduct-loitering, probation revocation.

TRAVIS ‘THE HUMP!’ HUMPHREY, Redwood Valley. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

Miller, Rodriguez, Solares, Temple

JEREMY MILLER, Cloverdale. Failure to appear.

MATTHEW RODRIGUEZ, Santa Rosa/Cloverdale. Failure to appear.

SILVIA SOLARES, Redway/Willits. Taking vehicle without owner’s consent, under influence, controlled substance, paraphernalia, stolen property, suspended license.

STEVEN TEMPLE, Ukiah. Fighting in public, controlled substance, failure to appear, probation revocation.

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WOULDN’T IT BE TERRIBLE if I quoted some reliable statistics which prove that more people are driven insane through religious hysteria than by drinking alcohol?

— W.C. Fields

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RUSSELL BAKER, AUTHOR AND NY TIMES COLUMNIST DEAD AT 93

Russell Baker, the Pulitzer Prize winning writer who penned thousands of columns for The New York Times, and hosted the PBS television program "Masterpiece Theatre," died Monday at his home in Leesburg, Va. He was 93.

Baker got his start as a news reporter with the Baltimore Sun, but became known for his "Observer" column in the Times, where he commented on modern life with unmistakable whimsy. Though often pegged to the specifics of the time, many of his observations are just as relevant today as they were when published decades ago. A family member tells NPR that Baker was "a beautiful man."

"We couldn't have asked for a better father," said his son, Allen Baker, according to the Baltimore Sun. "He was a tender and loving man to his family. … He was just a Regular Joe with an extraordinary job." His son says Baker died after complications from a fall.

When Baker moved from Washington to New York in 1974, the scope of his column expanded, the Times says in its obituary. At first political, it soon grew to encompass all aspects of day-to-day life. Baker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1979. It was the first Pulitzer for commentary awarded to a humorist, the Times says.

The Times highlights one column about Americans who hazard to live to old age, and how much those who achieved seniority could actually financially afford it. "Stylistically, the 'Observer' examined the American scene with plain phrases that echoed Twain as they skewered the pompous. But his voice could be haunting," the Times wrote, discussing this 1974 column on old people navigating a supermarket:

“Staring at 90-cent peanut butter. Taking down an orange, looking for the price, putting it back. … Old people at the supermarket make you wonder about all those middle-aged people you see jogging the streets to preserve their vascular systems for another fifty years. And about all the people of all ages all over the country who are eating less, drinking less, smoking less, driving safer, and in general looking for a deathproof safety suit to get them over the peak years and down into the valley of old age fit to enjoy the fruits of their abstention and labor. Will anyone care when they get there? … Old people at the supermarket are being crushed and nobody is even screaming.”

Baker was born into humble circumstances in Loudoun County, Va. in 1925. His father died from a diabetic coma when he was 5. During the Depression, Baker sold magazines door-to-door. He first entertained the idea of becoming a writer as a child, he said in his 1983 memoir, "Growing Up," which won the Pulitzer Prize for best biography. Baker earned a scholarship to Johns Hopkins University, enlisted as a Navy pilot during World War II (but was never deployed overseas), and finished his degree after the war, the Washington Post reports.

His career in journalism began at the Baltimore Sun, where he started as a police reporter before working his way up within five years to become London correspondent. After working as a White House reporter for the Sun, he joined the Times's Washington Bureau where he covered the White House, Congress, and presidential campaigns.

He became a columnist for the Times in 1962 and wrote nearly 5,000 "Observer" columns until his last one ran in 1998. Baker's writing "matured into literature" when he moved to New York, the Times said in its obituary, demonstrating "an owlish wit, sometimes surreal, often absurdist, usually scouring dark corridors of paradox, always carried off with a subtext of good sense."

Baker once said he never intended to be called a humorist; his goal as a columnist was to make politics and diplomacy accessible through easy to understand language, the Associated Press reports. "Well, as I soon discovered, in those days if you wrote short sentences and plain English in the Times, everybody naturally assumed you were being funny," he said.

Baker was an astute observer of the world, aware that what may seem like modern problems have actually been bedeviling humanity since humanity began.

"We all come from the past," he wrote in his autobiography, "and children ought to know what it was that went into their making, to know that life is a braided cord of humanity stretching up from time long gone, and that it cannot be defined by the span of a single journey from diaper to shroud."

(Matthew Schwartz, NPR)

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NO YELLOW VESTS HERE!

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

The issue that I at least have with the seemingly endless hang up on sexual issues is the distraction factor. Sexual deviants may be being beaten up on every street corner of the world, but I for one have never seen a single instance, so yes, I question the gravity of the “problem”. I do however see a huge, glaring problem with the theft and fraud of public wealth being sucked out of Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and every other scam our corrupt government can dream up to increase their net worth at our expense. How about our decaying infrastructure, the lack of decent paying jobs, the rip off of higher “education”, you know all of those “other” issues? Why do they take a back seat to penis problems? I just don’t get it and apparently neither do the distractors. But then, that is what they do, right? “Just a little touch of make-up, just a little touch of bull, just a little 3-chord trick embedded in your platform soul”, eh?

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A PENSION TEST FOR NEWSOM

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WINE INDUSTRY SEEKS ANOTHER FAVOR

forbes.com/sites/lizazimmerman/2019/01/20/the-supreme-court-wine-regulation-case-focuses-on-protectionism/#54e25a4d110f

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THE SUPER RICH AT DAVOS ARE SCARED OF ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ'S PROPOSAL TO HIKE TAXES ON THE WEALTHY

by Hugh Son & Brian Schwartz

Davos, Switzerland – The elite financiers attending the World Economic Forum are worried about the 70 percent tax rate on earnings above $10 million proposed by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

"It's scary," Scott Minerd, global chief investment officer for $265 billion Guggenheim Partners, said in an interview.

"By the time we get to the presidential election, this is going to gain more momentum," said Minerd, who added that he would probably be personally impacted by it. "And I think the likelihood that a 70 percent tax rate, or something like that, becomes policy is actually very real."

The billionaires and millionaires attending Davos had misgivings about Ocasio-Cortez's proposal, which she made during a recent interview on CBS' "60 Minutes." A poll found that 59 percent of voters were in favor of the idea, and even 45 percent of Republicans liked it. The lawmaker has turned heads in Washington and on Wall Street with her left-wing economic rhetoric, despite only being sworn into office earlier this month. Ocasio-Cortez, who represents parts of Queens and the Bronx, identifies as a Democratic-Socialist.

In Davos, Stephen Schwarzman, the billionaire CEO of private equity giant Blackstone and Republican megadonor, said sarcastically that he is "wildly enthusiastic" about the lawmaker's proposed tax hike. He added that "the U.S. is the second most progressive tax regime in the world," meaning that tax rates climb along with higher incomes.

The remarks at Davos came a day after Ocasio-Cortez had even more harsh words about how the U.S. economy works.

"I do think a system that allows billionaires to exist when there are parts of Alabama where people are still getting ringworm because they don't have access to public health is wrong," she said at a New York event on Martin Luther King Day.

Ocasio-Cortez addressed this article in a tweet Tuesday. "It's wild that some people are more scared of a marginal tax rate than the fact that 40% of Americans struggle to pay for at least one basic need, like food or rent," she wrote.

Despite the bipartisan appeal of a tax increase on the wealthy, another billionaire financier dismissed the idea's chances, saying that Democrats angling for a 2020 victory wouldn't move that far to the left. "It's not going to happen – trust me," this billionaire said, declining to be identified.

Members of the Democratic establishment were bearish on the proposal's chances. Glenn Hutchins, founder of private equity firm Silver Lake Partners and a Democratic party donor, called Ocasio-Cortez's idea political posturing that wouldn't likely make it through Congress.

"The important thing in my view is not to try to score political points with having a 70 percent, very high tax rate. The important thing is to try to figure out a tax system that is both fair and efficient," Hutchins said. "You got to get something like that through the House, then you have to get it through the Senate, and then you have to get the president of the United States to sign it."

Hutchins contributed over $100,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the official political organization that helps Democrats get elected to the upper chamber. During the 2016 presidential election, he wrote a $50,000 check to the Hillary Clinton Action Fund, which supported Clinton's run for president and the Democratic National Committee.

The problem with the tax — nearly double the current top rate of 37 percent — is that rich people will simply figure out ways to shelter their income, and that will be a drag on productivity, Minerd said.

"The political pendulum is swinging," Minerd said. "The conservatives found out they're being held hostage by the extreme right. Now the Democrats are going to find out they're being held hostage by the extreme left."

(cnbc)

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“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.”

—Martin Luther King, Jr., pictured here at Oxy in 1967.

(photo by Joe Friezer)

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IN SEARCH OF THE ULTIMATE FRITO

As my morning routine demands, I checked on my bank balance just now to see whether it had dropped mysteriously overnight. The numbers sound expectable, and include the month's social security deposit. This state of affairs mimics, to a certain way of looking, finding that perfect Frito, the one with the absolutely perfect percentage of salt to everything else. This is what keeps the ever searching returning for another bag, and some time later, yet another and another.

Facebook resembles a Frito in the mouth of its user. It is a rather large temptation left ungrabbed here to tell a perfectly tasteless joke. Wisely, I think, left to fester in silence. This ever-seeking the perfect Frito is what keeps us scrolling, ever in search of . . . what? Happiness? Spiritual fulfillment? The meaning of that special stare between Dan and Marsha?

It appears to be the case that quite a few find something of value in the endless scroll or, presumably they would just go out and mow the lawn or wash the car or just stand there in the sun and enjoy living for a bit. That we feel this way is, of course, fundamental to the design of the thing, not to mention (much) that it's also the driver of the business model. And none of it exists without all the scrolling, just like the Frito Company manufacturers millions of bags per day.

Picture a scrotum, or some other more lovely body part, firmly in the grasp of your corporate master, or at least one of them. The scrotum is yours. Wiggle and you've made their day.

(Bruce Brady)

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SAKO STRIKES IT RICH?

Dear friends and family,

I'm buying the precolonial farmhouse and 40-acre farm in Frenchtown, NJ. Will send more photos. Can transfer my public affairs radio show from KMUD to WNJT (Trenton), I hope. Excited about maybe buying something in Abiquiu, NM, too.

John Sakowicz, Ukiah

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“This is the perfect location to deliver my State of the Union address.”

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

At 50 bucks, shale oil won’t work. It might at 150 bucks. But at 150 bucks nothing else works.

Either way, this is an arrangement without a future. No hope. Not even a glimmer. The macro numbers and wider circumstances surrounding this preposterous business proposition don’t stand up to scrutiny either, at least, not to anyone with a stitch of sense. But then stitches of sense are in perilous short supply and have been for a while.

If you dare you can contemplate the total of debt at the federal government level. But be careful because the numbers cause bleeding from the nose and other orifices, as do tallies of domestic and corporate obligation.

But these disastrous figures derive from three sources, a crack-pot global production and trading set-up that can’t stay upright under the weight of its own absurdity, a Fed that tries to prop up this unworkable system with QE and ZIRP, and last but not least, oil that’s running out. This three-legged stool is built on really rickety legs depending as it does on the Chinese always and forever taking nothing but paper in return for products shipped from their factories, amounting each and every year to hundreds of billions of dollars worth. I COULD say American factories located in China, but who are we kidding? Those factories are under de-facto Chinese control. So it’s like Herb Stein said, something that can’t go on forever, won’t. When this nonsensical something for nothing arrangement stops, and it will stop, what takes its place?

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THIS SATURDAY: NATIONAL THEATRE LIVE AT ARENA THEATER

National Theatre Live from London

The Madness of George III by Alan Bennett

Saturday, Jan. 26

1 p.m., doors 12:30 p.m.

Tickets: $18, $5 youth (18 and under), online at www.arenatheater.org

Arena Theater, 214 Main Street, Point Arena


National Theatre Live presents: A country in the grip of a madman

The multi-award-winning drama "The Madness of George III," written by British playwright Alan Bennett, will be broadcast as a live recording at Arena Theater on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 1 p.m., with doors opening at 12:30 p.m. The new production, National Theatre Live's first ever broadcast from Nottingham Playhouse, dramatizes the final years of King George III's reign of the United Kingdom, his battle with mental illness and the inability of the court to handle his condition. Directed by Adam Penford, a stellar cast includes Olivier Award-winners Mark Gatiss in the title role and Adrian Scarborough.

The play has a runtime of 210 minutes with one intermission and tickets are $18, $5 youth (18 and under), available online at www.arenatheater.org.

Arena Theater is located at 214 Main Street, Point Arena, California. Arena Theater is a member-supported community theater owned and operated by the Arena Theater Association, a 501 (c) (3) not for profit corporation. For additional information visit: www.arenatheater.org

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JACOBS SELECTED AS ENGINEERING DESIGN MANAGER FOR CALIFORNIA WATERFIX/DELTA TUNNELS PROJECT

by Dan Bacher

In spite of a multitude of lawsuits against the Delta Tunnels and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) withdrawing the project’s "certification of consistency" with the Delta Plan developed by the Delta Stewardship Council, the California WaterFix proposal continues to plod forward.

A press release from Jacobs (NYSE: JEC), posted to PRNewswire on January 22, reports that it has been named the engineering design manager for the California WaterFix by the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA):

Jacobs (NYSE: JEC) has been selected by the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA) for engineering design management (EDM) services related to the California WaterFixprogram. Estimated at $17 billion in 2017, WaterFix is California'slargest water conveyance project, designed to bolster the reliability of the state's water supplies, while protecting and enhancing the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary, a vital environmental asset.

The California WaterFix program, slated to begin in early 2019, will upgrade outdated and unreliable water infrastructure that is more than 50 years old and dependent on levees that put clean water supply at risk from earthquakes and sea-level rise.

"WaterFix is one of the highest profile infrastructure projects in the nation, essential to secure clean water supplies for 27 million people, area businesses and three million acres of agricultural land," said Jacobs COO and President of Buildings, Infrastructure and Advanced Facilities Bob Pragada. "Building on our long-term relationship with California water agencies, DCA will tap into our extensive water infrastructure and engineering design experience to begin modernization of California's water delivery system."

“Jacobs' initial $93 million contract with DCA will support the preliminary and final engineering design phase of the 15-year program. Major infrastructure components include three water diversion intakes (3,000 cfs each) with state-of-the-art fish screens, two large tunnels (40-foot diameter and 35 miles long), two large pumping stations (4,500 cfs each) and miles of new roads and utility relocations.

Following more than a decade of studies, WaterFix emerged as the most effective solution to address California's water shortages while also improving environmental conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – such as reducing the harmful impacts of the existing infrastructure diversions near endangered fish habitats and reinstating more natural river flows.

WaterFix also stands to generate nearly 122,000 jobs for the region and offer greater water security, enhanced disaster preparedness and climate change resilience for millions of California residents, businesses and agriculture that obtain their water from the Delta.

Jacobs leads the global professional services sector delivering solutions for a more connected, sustainable world. With $15 billion in fiscal 2018 revenue and a talent force of more than 80,000, Jacobs provides a full spectrum of services including scientific, technical, professional and construction- and program-management for business, industrial, commercial, government and infrastructure sectors. For more information, visit www.jacobs.com, and connect with Jacobs on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The press release ends with a curious note that statements made in the release “that are not based on historical facts are forward looking statements”:

Statements made in this release that are not based on historical fact are forward-looking statements. We base these forward-looking statements on management's current estimates and expectations as well as currently available competitive, financial and economic data. Forward-looking statements, however, are inherently uncertain. There are a variety of factors that could cause business results to differ materially from our forward-looking statements. For a description of some of the factors which may occur that could cause actual results to differ from our forward-looking statements please refer to our Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended September 28, 2018, and in particular the discussions contained under Items 1 - Business, 1A - Risk Factors, 3 - Legal Proceedings, and 7 - Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations. We do not undertake to update any forward-looking statements made herein.

For those not familiar with the project, the California WaterFix is a proposal to build two massive 35-mile long tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to facilitate the export of Delta water to corporate agribusiness interests and Southern California water agencies.

In spite of the claim made in the release that the “WaterFix emerged as the most effective solution to address California's water shortages while also improving environmental conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta,” the project would actually hasten the extinction of Sacramento River winter and spring-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species. The project would also imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers by exporting increasing amounts of water via the existing pipeline through the Trinity Mountains from Lewiston/Trinity Reservoirs to Whiskeytown Reservoir, which empties into Clear Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River.

As the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA) continues to forge ahead with the California WaterFix even though the project hasn’t been approved by the State Water Resources Control Board or the Delta Stewardship Council as part of the Delta Plan, populations of Delta smelt and other pelagic (open water) fish species in the Delta continue to collapse.

For the first time ever, a fish survey that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) conducts every autumn turned up zero Delta smelt throughout the monitoring sites in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in September, October, November and December 2018.

The smelt, a 2 to 3 inch fish listed under both federal and state Endangered Species Acts, is found only in the Delta estuary. It is regarded as an indicator species, a fish that demonstrates the health of the entire Delta ecosystem.

Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) and board member of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), points out the significance of the disastrous decline of Delta smelt and other fish species in the 2018 Fall Midwater Trawl by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

“The abundance of both Delta smelt and striped bass is the lowest in the trawl's history,” said Jennings. “Longfin is the fifth lowest, threadfin shad is the fourth lowest, American shad is a 66 percent reduction from the previous year and the splittail is zero. This is a very comprehensive trawl and the results were a disaster for Delta fisheries.”

“Not only is the Delta smelt on the brink of extinction but there are several species lined up behind it,” noted Jennings. “Governor Brown’s legacy is likely to be several extinctions of fish that flourished in this estuary for millennia.”

“We know what fish need. Fish prosper when they have adequate flows and quality water. They suffer when they don’t. The question is how do we get them to survive on less water of poorer quality than they evolved with for thousands of years. The answer appears to be they can’t,” Jennings concluded.

Instead of “improving environmental conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta” as Jacobs claims the Delta Tunnels will do, the California Water Fix will remove more water from the Sacramento River before it flows through the Delta Estuary in order to facilitate water exports to corporate agribusiness and Southern California water agencies, making the already perilous state of Delta smelt, winter and spring-run Chinook salmon and other fish species even worse.

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INLAND DEMOS TO MEET

Next Meeting of the Inland Mendocino Democratic Club on February 14

We are at the Alley Lounge for our next meeting on Valentine's Day, February 14, at 5:30 PM! For the Love of Democracy we will continue in Solidarity!

Alley Lounge: 1401 N. State Street. See us on Facebook and at inlandmendodems.org

17 Comments

  1. Bruce McEwen January 24, 2019

    +At risk of repeating myself, at least post up some pictures of the new digs!

  2. John Sakowicz January 24, 2019

    But I love the soapbox, Bruce, particularly when I’m talking about the public pension bubble, which, I believe, when it bursts could easily trigger the next Great Depression.

    You know, $3-4 trillion is a lot of money. To put things in context, the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008 was triggered by a much smaller bubble burst than the current record levels of unfunded pension liabilities.

    I’ll explain.

    When it burst, private residential investment (i.e., housing construction) fell by nearly 4% GDP and consumption enabled by bubble-generated housing wealth also slowed. This created a gap in annual demand (GDP) of nearly $1 trillion. Government was unwilling to make up for this private sector shortfall.

    That first bubble burst led to a second bubble burst and a third.

    Again, I’ll explain.

    Record levels of household debt accumulated in the decades preceding the crisis resulted in a balance sheet recession (similar to debt deflation) once housing prices began falling in 2006. Consumers began paying down debt, which reduces their consumption, slowing down the economy for an extended period while debt levels are reduced.

    Housing speculation using high levels of mortgage debt drove many investors with prime-quality mortgages (i.e., those investors in the middle of the credit score distribution) to default and enter foreclosure on investment properties when housing prices fell; the blame on “subprime” homeowners (i.e., those at the bottom of the credit score distribution) was overstated.

    Underlying this narrative was the federal government’s own bad behavior. Government policies that encouraged home ownership, even for those who could not afford it, contributed to lax lending standards, unsustainable housing price increases, and indebtedness.

    And all of this, taken together, led to disaster.

    Between 1 January and 11 October 2008, owners of stocks in U.S. corporations suffered about $8 trillion in losses, as their holdings declined in value from $20 trillion to $12 trillion. Losses in other countries averaged about 40% of their own stock indices.

    Again, it all started with the $1 trillion in annual demand…much smaller than the $3-4 trillion gap between what the 50 states promised their public employees and what they can afford to pay out in retirement benefits.

    And there are other bubbles out there, too, Bruce.

    Outstanding consumer revolving debt — credit card debt — hit an all-time peak of $1.021 trillion in June, according to the Federal Reserve. That’s not including other personal debt, like residential housing mortgages, auto loans, or student loans.

    This should be a scary statistic. The last time the debt level was nearly this high was in 2008, when the U.S. economy was mired in a recession.

    And, as long as we’re on the subject of student loans, the news is terrible.

    Student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category – behind only mortgage debt – and higher than both credit cards and auto loans.

    According to the Federal Reserve, there are more than 44 million borrowers who collectively owe $1.52 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. alone. The average student in the Class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt.

    • Harvey Reading January 24, 2019

      Oh, you DO definitely have a problem with public pensions. That much is true. Get over it. Of course, public pensions are one of the “in” things for conservatives to hate, have been for years.

      You and George oughta get together, and trade stories for a while. You two have a lot in common it seems to me.

  3. Bruce McEwen January 24, 2019

    I can hardly wait for the Super Blood Moon Super Bowl to get over with so we can move on to spring training down in sunny Arizona — it’s the weather today, I guess… but I was just reminded of that great line of John Updike’s about Ted Williams — the Kid, the Splendid Splinter — when Ted hit a home run in his last at bat in Fenway Park on September 28th, 1960:

    “It was in the books while it was still in the sky.”

  4. james marmon January 24, 2019

    RE: PG&E BANKRUPTCY (everything changes)

    Cal Fire says Tubbs fire caused by private electrical system, not PG&E

    January 24, 2019, 12:27PM

    “Cal Fire has announced that the 2017 Tubbs fire was ignited by a private electrical system adjacent to a residential structure and not PG&E equipment as had been widely suspected in the inferno’s wake.

    The long-awaited findings were made public just after noon Thursday in a Cal Fire news release that also said investigators found no violation of state law related to the cause of the wildfire.”

    https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9207814-181/cal-fire-says-tubbs-fire

    • james marmon January 24, 2019

      PG&E’s stock soars on New York Stock Exchange as its financial outlook brightens

      The financial outlook for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. brightened sharply Thursday (today) after Cal Fire cleared the company of responsibility for causing the fatal Tubbs fire that devastated Sonoma County in October 2017.

      PG&E’s stock soared 75 percent to close up $5.96 at $13.95 per share in New York Stock Exchange trading.

      https://www.pressdemocrat.com/business/9207983-181/pges-stock-soars-on-new

  5. John Sakowicz January 24, 2019

    BTW, the $1.75 trillion number for the total unfunded pension liabilities for all state pension systems that I quoted is as of 2016.

    The 2019 total must be staggering!

    And that number doesn’t even include the unfunded laibilities of county and municipal pension systems.

    If I had to guess, I put the current total of all unfunded liabilities of all public pension systems at $3-4 trillion…maybe more.

    That’s not even counting federal workers and miliitary. They have their own pension systems, of course, and because the U.S. Treasury funds them, the U.S. Treasury just prints the money.

    The U.S. Treasury is accountable to no one. Print the money. Drive inflation. Add to the $22 trillion national debt. Bankrupt the country.

    Who cares, right?

    The only people blowing the whistle on this madness are libertarians…U.S. Senator Rand Paul, and his father, former U.S. Representative Ron Paul.

    They are my heroes, and I’ve interviewed both on my radio show, “Heroes and Patriots”.

    • Harvey Reading January 24, 2019

      Very little money is printed. The biggest creator of “money” are the private banking and loan businesses. They make loans, which create money from nothing, every day. That’s their business. And kaputalism runs on loans. Eventually banks’ over-extension, along with the over-extension of kaputalists who receive the loans, causes a depression, and, naturally, the government bails them out, with no prison sentences. And the the right makes excuses for the lack of justice, because, of course, the bankers’s crimes were not “violent” crimes in their minds. Getting thrown out of ones home IS a violent crime, though.

      Libertarians are the biggest phonies I have ever seen. They peddle freedom, their freedom, at the expense of the freedom of others. Other than that, they are just typical conservative kaputalists, who decry taxes and regulations, like the uncaring fools they are. I hope I live to see the whole kaputalist system go kaput, and that socialism replaces it. Many of us have been waiting a long, long time for that It will be the best thing that has ever happened to the species, assuming it survives even that long.

      • Harvey Reading January 24, 2019

        PS, your heroes are pathetic.

    • Bruce McEwen January 24, 2019

      Dear oh dear, Sako, that’s all well and good, but get off the soapbox for a minute — can’t you tell we’re all just dying to hear about your new farm in New Jersey and the Rancho Sedona deal? C’mon, you’re keeping us in unbearable suspense!

  6. John Sakowicz January 24, 2019

    All public defined-benefits plans are underfunded pension systems — some are grossly underfunded.

    The total pension liability of just the universe of state public pensions systems, not including county and municipal systems, is $1.75 trillion.

    See: https://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/07/us-state-public-pension-unfunded-liabilities-to-hit-175-trillion-moodys.html

    Any questions?

    Taxpayers simply can’t afford the level of benefits that were promised to public employees by irresponsible politicians, who promised what they had to promise to get elected.

    Let’s look at just one state — New Jersey. I recently bought a farm there. I’m going to be a taxpayer, so I’m concerned, very concerned.

    The following are excerpts of the public pension debate in New Hersey culled from public sources.

    New Jersey’s total pension liability is $115 billion, reports the New Jersey Economic & Fiscal Policy Workgroup, a bipartisan blue-ribbon panel of 25 legislators and experts formed to propose solutions to the state’s economic and fiscal problems.

    The panel reports the state’s traditional public pensions are only 56 percent funded, meaning the expected return on the investment of previous funds paid into the systems by taxpayers will not cover the projected cost of benefits. By 2030, New Jersey taxpayers will be obligated to pay an additional $7.1 billion into the state’s pension systems, which cover nearly 800,000 current and retired employees.

    Shifting workers to defined-contribution plans is one of 30 recommendations for fiscal reforms made by the panel in its 2018 report, “Path to Progress.”

    State Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-Gloucester), an originator and leader of the panel, publicly supports action on the recommendations in the 2019 session of the legislature.

    There is also organized opposition, of course. The New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union, has labeled the panel’s recommendations “unfair, unreasonable, and unconscionable.”

    Of course! Lobbyists are paid to say things like that.

    But let’s dig into the details.

    The panel proposes moving new workers with less than five years of employment under the current pension system into a plan that structurally resembles the Thrift Savings Plan for federal government workers, which replaced the old defined-benefit pension system in the mid-1980s.

    Alternatively, the state could provide a blended or hybrid system, with a defined benefit for the first $40,000 of an employee’s income and an investment account for income above $40,000, the panel suggests.

    The panel also recommends raising the full-benefit retirement age for new employees from 65 to the regular Social Security retirement age for their birth year.

    But that’s only a start.

    The proposed pension reforms would save the state billions of dollars but do not go far enough to solve the fiscal problem, says Scott Andrew Shepard, policy director at the Yankee Institute for Public Policy and author of a recent Mercatus Center report, “New Jersey’s Pension Crisis: Flailing in Deep Waters.”

    “Sweeney’s efforts represent a good and honest start in grappling with New Jersey’s pension-funding crisis,” said Shepard. “But it’s only a start.”

    The reforms would not touch the pension structure for current workers who have been employed by the state more than five years, putting all the responsibility on new and younger ones, says Shepard.

    “Like California, Connecticut, and other states facing these problems, Sweeney makes a proposal that asks everything of younger employees and newer hires,” said Shepard. “Responsibility should be shared among all workers by applying the 401(k)-style programs to all work not yet performed by all current workers.”

    The state should also look at the benefit packages of higher-income employees and retirees, some of whom have used loopholes to enhance their benefits, says Shepard.

    “The state should review the size, scope, and provenance of packages for current and future retirees,” Shepard said. “It should think about trimming some of the larger packages if they were achieved by troubling practices such as pension spiking, double dipping, and unconscionably large—and deeply underfunded—initial awards.”

    And there’s no time to lose.

    Shepard disagrees with other pending proposals to fix New Jersey’s pension problems, including ideas by Gov. Phil Murphy (D), such as imposing a “millionaires’ surtax,” transferring more control over pensions to public-employee unions, and dedicating lottery funds to pension funding. These measures would not fix or even help reduce the pension crisis, Shepard said.

    Shepard recommends one more thing: prompt action.

    “Further delay in taking the necessary steps to address New Jersey’s pension crisis will only increase the likelihood of more pervasive—and less equitable—cuts later on,” said Shepard. “New Jersey has no time to lose.”

    Are there other options? Other alternatives?

    Merrill Mathews, a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation, says several state and local governments have transitioned to defined-contribution plans, which eliminates unexpected public financial obligations and ensures retirees actually receive their money.
    “In 1981 and ‘82, three Texas counties—Galveston, Matagorda, and Brazoria—opted out of Social Security and created what’s known as the ‘Alternate Plan,’” said Matthews.

    “County workers and the government deposit the same amount as private-sector workers pay in FICA taxes for Social Security, into a private account,” Mathews said. “That money is pooled and loaned to financial institutions that pay interest, with a guaranteed [benefit] floor.”
    The private accounts are a reliable source of retirement income for the participants, says Matthews.

    “Those accounts have never lost a dime in the 35-plus years of operation, and the counties have no long-term pension obligations,” said Matthews. “Workers retire with roughly twice what they would have received under Social Security.”

    ——-

    • Harvey Reading January 24, 2019

      CNBC? Give me a break. They peddle nothing but kaputalist lies. And save any hogwash about them being liberal. Corporate media is owned by conservatives. I suspect your other sources as just as unreliable, except in the sense of supporting lies.

      Lotta words. Lotta right-wing lies, like what have been thrown at public pension systems for a long time now, especially since the days of Jarvis-Gann. Private accounts legislation was set up to ensure that retirement systems would fail, along with Social Security. CALPERS (established during the Great Depression), was doing fine until, its board came to be dominated by the right-wing appointees who managed the fund badly, and, I suspect purposefully, to set it on the road to destruction, part of the path to Grover’s desire to shrink government to nothing.

      Some teachers’ union in CA opted out of Social Security years ago. Now, their retirees are paying the price.

      Peddle your right-wing nonsense to the more gullible. I’m not buying it at all. You “conservatives” will NOT succeed, no matter how much propaganda you peddle. People are getting angry.

      By the way, aren’t you the guy who, a few years back, tried to convince me that defined contribution was a good thing, since it would only affect new employees? I didn’t buy it then, and I don’t buy it now.

  7. Harvey Reading January 24, 2019

    Re: Public Employee Pensions

    I hope Newsom RESTORES full, defined-benefits pensions to state employees, who mostly are paid, and have benefits, including pensions, that are less than the going rate for similar work in private outfits.

    Brown sold out state employees, but then he’s been doing that since he was elected the first time, in 1970. He was never more than a “moderately” conservative flake. If you people want competent public servants, then you better pay them decently and quit messing with their pensions and other benefits. Same holds true at your county level. It’s not the fault of your county employees that they work for a bunch of idiots who want something for nothing. All the right-wing bellowing about public servants scamming the public they serve is nothing but right-wing, propagandist gasbagging.

    • Harvey Reading January 24, 2019

      1974

  8. Harvey Reading January 24, 2019

    Re: $50 Lesson

    Reads like something that might appear in a conservative comic book, or a publication from a right-wing think tank, written by some “learned” propagandist whom it owns.

    • Bruce McEwen January 24, 2019

      “You can mow the lawn, pull weeds, sweep the yard and I’ll give you $50.”

      A Republican would have a pretty extensive lawn to be mowed, garden to be weeded, and as for sweeping the yard god only knows what that might entail, but basically, you’re looking at eight hours work, at a minimum, which works out to $6.25 per hour. Needless perhaps to say, the landscape company that usually contracts the guy’s yard work charges a good deal more than that, probably more like a $150 per week with a crew of three or four undocumented immigrants doing the work – and, sure they would get it done a lot quicker than a single man or girl, working with a badly maintained mower and edger, and other equipment our Republican homeowner would have on hand – and, sure, the nit-picky SOB would keep the kid there all weekend before he thought he got his money’s worth.

      And the reader is supposed to laugh at the shiftless panhandler down at the Safeway parking lot making at least $7.50 per hour, if not a hell of a lot more.

      A better joke might be the one about the harlot who came to the door and said she’d do anything for $100 and the cheapskate Republican said, “Here’s $150 – paint my house!” (A job bid that would come to $3 or $4000, without the cost of materials). And the our Republican would refuse to pay, and win in court, because the prostitute didn’t have a contractor’s license, and then she’d be blackballed on Craig’s list.

  9. Harvey Reading January 24, 2019

    Re: RE: PG&E BANKRUPTCY

    Thank you Mark Scaramella for a concise example of how kaputalism functions to the detriment of workers. PG&E should be taken over, seamlessly, and run … by the state, as a PUBLIC entity. Workers would remain on the job, their wages and benefits intact, and the public would soon learn that a truly public utility is far more efficient, and dependable, than the crap shoot provided by greedy kaputalists.

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