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MCT: Wednesday, February 6, 2019

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AVA October of 2017: “After some bureaucratic gibberish about ‘compensable factors’ and some mild discomfort at even having to discuss huge raises for the Ag Commissioner, the Chief Probation Officer [then the now disgraced and departed Pam Markham], the Human Resources Director (who had one of her own employees promoting the raises, even though the Human Resources Department should remain neutral on such things), and the Planning & Building Director, Supervisor Carre Brown, dependable supporter of whatever staff wants to do, moved to approve the raises. Supervisor Hamburg quickly seconded the motion. After Supervisor McCowen made an ominous ‘I’m going to predict that we are going to hear from some other department heads and elected officials on this,’ the Board voted 4-1 to approve those huge raises which amount to about $100k per year for the four overpaid bureaucrats with only Supervisor Dan Gjerde dissenting. At no time did they discuss whether these people deserved raises or whether the budget impact had been calculated. PS. We agree with McCowen that it won’t be long before big raises are proposed and similarly rubberstamped for the County’s two dozen or so other top officials.”

OF COURSE that turned out to be painfully true: Not just “some other department heads,” but all the rest of them, plus the CEO and the Supervisors themselves who soon jumped on board the Giant Pay Raise train.

Supervisor John McCowen in November 2018 (after the incomplete first quarter budget report): “What we have not been presented is, What is the overall projection including all departments? So we are going to get more information on that midyear…”

County Auditor Lloyd Weer, November 2018: “So as far as being able to pinpoint a [revenue] number at this point, I can't. I'm looking at what I have [i.e., nothing]. I am comfortable that the current budget we have for Budget Unit 1000 [General Fund] is going to be met or exceeded. I just don't have the ability to give you a number to count on at this point.”

AVA, November 2018: “McCowen then said that he was ‘uncomfortable’ allocating money to anything — particularly long-delayed and essential capital improvement projects like reroofing leaky buildings, replacing the ‘antiquated’ computer system, etc. — when there are obvious overruns and no revenue projections available. Summary: General Fund expenses are likely to be at least $5 million over budget when the Ag and Executive Office are factored in. Revenues will be flat at best and more likely down by at least $1 million. Essential capital improvement projects and grant match set-asides will take several million dollars more. And about two-thirds of line workers have been told they can expect raises in the next year or two to bring them back to pre-2009 levels.”

BACK TO THIS WEEK… February 5th, 2019

COUNTY CEO CARMEL ANGELO, Feb 5, 2019 CEO Report: “With the first half of the 2018-19 Fiscal Year (FY) behind us, the Budget Team is now devoting significant time and resources to the preparation of the County’s Mid-Year Budget Report to the Board of Supervisors. The Mid-Year report is scheduled to be presented to the Board at their March 26, 2019 meeting.”

When CEO Angelo pointed this out in her CEO Report on Tuesday not one Supervisor asked why the “mid-year” (the one that ended on December 31) budget report won’t be ready until March 26.

WHICH BRING US TO Supervisor John Haschak’s lone dissenting vote on the big promotion/pay raise for Assistant DA Dale Trigg. Haschak noted that the promotion/raise worked out to be about 7% and he wasn’t comfortable approving any official raises until the line workers got raises.

IT’S NOW even more obvious that CEO Angelo is hiding bad budget news to allow time for top officials to get raises without budget questions. Then, months from now when line worker raises come up, CEO Angelo will present the bad news (sales tax revenues down, pot program in deficit, assessments down due to reduced property sales/values and the 2017 Redwood Complex fire destruction) and it will then, and only then after the top officials are covered, that the County will discover that they probably can’t afford what they’ve been telling employees they would probably get.

REMEMBER: Humboldt County reported its sales tax revenues for the first quarter just two weeks after the quarter ended. Mendo Auditor Lloyd Weer has been telling the Measure B Committee every month down to the penny how much sales tax has been accrued for Measure B. But despite the many obvious red-ink generators, Mendo continues to hand out raises to top officials without asking where the money will come from.

THE ONLY compensating factor for all this is the County’s “vacancy rate” where budgeted-funded positions are left unfilled indefinitely. Clearly, there is a vacancy factor, and it might offset the red-ink somewhat, but again, nobody asks what it’s running or when it will be calculated.

NEVERTHELESS, ON TUESDAY, not one Supervisor, including newly seated Supes Ted Williams and John Haschak, expressed any concern about how long the budget update is taking.

BUT BOTH HASCHAK, WILLIAMS AND GJERDE deserve high marks for (1) Haschak’s bold and lonely challenge to DA Eyster's successful pitch for big pay for his assistant, Mr. Trigg, and (2) Williams for his important clarification of Measure B priorities in that, as Sheriff Allman also clarified at Tuesday’s meeting, the residential psychiatric unit (Puff) should be the first Measure B spending priority over the less difficult crisis stabilization and crisis residential capacity which faces substantially less design and construction hurdles than the Puff/PHF. After a painful from-the-public presentation by a distraught woman whose horses have been sequestered at huge county expense because of her inability to care for them, Gjerde wanted to know if the county was still paying for the small herd's maintenance. The answer from CEO Angelo was no.

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STAN PESKETT’S “Valley Swan Song” — Pop Up Exhibition of art created in Mendocino County since 2002. Plus: samplings of 1980s New York City murals.

Live music by the JSP Jazz Trio (Jennifer Schmitt, Stan Peskett, Pilar Duran).

2pm, Sunday, February 10 at 14111 Highway 128 (Farrer building) on Highway 128 in Boonville.

Also showing the award-winning BBC2 documentary ‘Rags to Riches’ featuring Jean Michel Basquiat, Jennifer Stein, Stan Peskett and more. Plus Mark Weaver’s backstory on Stan discovering Jean Michel in 1979. (Mark Weaver is a local videographer.) Open only briefly after the 10th by appointment only: 707/489-9311.

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Board Of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, and February 5, 2019, Public Expression

Patrick Hickey, Mendo SEIU representative: “We are here this morning to share our concern about what we see as the growing use and abuse of paid administrative leaves by the County. Under the current practice, county employees are put on paid administrative leave in many cases for months on end with no explanation or time limit. Employees are required to stay at home during normal work hours subject to discipline if they are not there when the county calls while the County investigates some unnamed issue. This is a perversion of the role and purpose of paid administrative leave. They should be rare and used in those uncommon situations in which an agency believes that an employee’s continued presence in the workplace may pose a threat to the employee or others, may result in the loss or damage of County property, or otherwise jeopardize legitimate County interests. Otherwise, the employee should be able to carry out their duties while any investigation is being conducted.”

My name is Henry Fram. “I have been on paid administrative leave for almost seven months now. Every time I have called to ask why or if I can come back to work yet, all I get is, Still investigating, we will let you know. They just want me to stay at home, I guess. I really want to get back to work. I know my department is hurting. The bosses are running like crazy and they are very eager to get me back.”

Hickey: “This is not a paid vacation but a form of psychological torture, something out of Franz Kafka. Imagine having to wait for months to even know what the county is investigating or potentially accusing you of. Employees who are placed on administrative leave regularly report anxiety, stress and sleeplessness. This also has a detrimental effect on an employee's reputation at work. Coworkers assume he must have done something really bad to justify having your phone and key card confiscated and being escorted out of the building. Staff is then directed to have no contact with that individual. This is not a wise use of taxpayer dollars. Numerous county employees are sitting at home collecting paychecks on paid admin leave. The board is expected to be wise stewards of our hard earned money, not fritter it away as you slow walk investigations on employees who could easily be at work doing their jobs. Surely there is productive work that these employees could be doing while the county conducts any interviews or investigations that need to be done. Mr. Fram has been paid for six months to sit at home doing nothing. His department continues to work short-staffed. If, after the excessive paid leave, the county decides to impose some sort of discipline the employee is at a distinct disadvantage, long after whatever incident is being reviewed to try to remember what happened. If I asked you what you did on a particular day last August, how much do you think you would remember? So we call on the Board to direct Human Resources to treat employees better, to cease their excessive use of paid administrative leave, to notify employees what they are being put on administrative leave for, and to give an expected return date from leave. Under no circumstances should employees be out for months on end.”

Board/Staff Rote Response: “Thank you Mr. Hickey. We will move on. Any more public expression?”

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by Rex Gressett

The relatively new Fort Bragg City Attorney for our tiny metropolis is Russell Hildebrand of the formidable law firm Jones and Meyers. He now lives in Texas and does his work for the city by remote.

The location of Hildebrand’s new digs, I was informed somewhat reluctantly, is a suburb of Houston. City Hall declined to be more specific. Russell Hildebrand and his partners in Jones Myer came to us as one of the commitments to more ethical and responsible government that swept into city hall with the advent of new City Manager Tabatha Miller.

Dumping legal ace Sam (Samantha) Zutler of San Francisco, former manager Ms. Ruffing's personal apologist for Ruffing’s flagrant over the top, hyper-loyalty to the discredited Ruffing machine, was one of the first things the new regime did. In the aftermath of years of dodged responsibility, massive cash misallocations, and carefully obscured budget deficits into which our new City Manager fearlessly waded, a reliable City Attorney to was a priority.

The City Council gave the job to Jones and Meyer of far away Fullerton, California. Jones Myer is a major player in the representation of small and medium California cities. Their client list is long. It was said at the time that a local attorney might be closer to the facts on the ground or at least legal advice would be bought locally. But caution was the order of the day. Jones and Myer got the gig and gave us Russell Hildebrand, or gave us to him.

Russell Hildebrand was initially committed to driving over the hill to offer advice — at a nice hourly rate. Certainly, in early days, He attended most meetings and apparently handled our simple municipal affairs quite easily. Steering our little coastal town through petty issues of regulation and the minutia of legal language is not legal rocket science. Lawsuits are uncommon in remote Fort Bragg. If we were famous for anything, it would not be being too troubled by a little malfeasance or misallocation from time to time. The new City Manager was whistle clean. It was a plum gig.

In a few short months, City Manager Tabatha Miller cleaned up the books, put a stop to Mayor Lindy Peters’ hysteria about impending bankruptcy and brought us quickly and efficiently back into the black.

“Russell,” as he was collegially known, seemed to be very much a part of the clean-up. But then we got sued.

Jacob Patterson shattered our repose and, as he says, our complacency by bringing suit for district-based council seats under the formidable CVRA (California Voting Rights Act, in theory aimed at ethnic electoral balance, which is not either a problem or an issue in racially harmonious Fort Bragg).

All that Tabatha Miller had done to pull us out of our deep fiscal and legal hole was suddenly at risk. Peters at the time was our all-powerful Mayor. He wanted to ignore the CVRA as the scam it is applied to Fort Bragg, and he mocked it. He said he did not ever really believe it, he was adamantly consistent that he never took it seriously, and indicates that he doesn’t take it seriously now.

The mayor had every right to be amazed.

The CVRA has amazed and dismayed hundreds of cities and city administrators. Then it has ruined them. Jacob Patterson was dissuaded from pursuing his lawsuit. The city bought him off with a paltry 20 thousand bucks. The reason is mysterious and somewhat lovely. Almost poetic really. Jacob likes living here, He loves it. He works for reform, he truly cares about his city. He backed down graciously for relative peanuts, and Peters thought that was normal.

Under the CVRA Jacob Paterson could have cleaned our financial clock. Hundreds of cities have incurred massive litigation expenses over the CVRA, in many cases for millions of dollars. We missed all that by a fluke. Peters never saw any reason for alarm and was only slightly conscious when the runaway train missed his car. But the city lucked out, but any other attorney on planet earth can still sue us, and will still almost certainly win.

The weirdness was that Peters, according to Peters, was getting his dope from Russell Hildebrand. Peters talked about the city of Windsor's fight with the CVRA and apparently winning. They lost. The sage advice of legal giant Jones Myers by means of Russell Hildebrand can of course only be known through the leaking sieve of Mayor Peters’ promiscuous public musings, but good old Hildebrand appears to have been the foundation for the ex-Mayor's sanguine intractability on the CVRA. They can't touch this, was the mayoral takeaway.

Not too many people notice when the bomb doesn't go off, but if Jacob Patterson had gone for the millions Russ Hildebrand would have profited equally. That's an important point. Apparently, all-out war was his suggestion to the mayor in spite of the massive evidence of financial carnage and the total absence of successful opposition. But Hildebrand would have gotten paid. So much for the probity of bigness. City hall made a sober professional judgment, although without undue fanfare that we shall be retaining councilor Hildebrand even though he now lives on the other side of the continent. Maybe it's safer for us that way.

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"Our January event was reluctantly canceled due to conditions. We will try again March 9-10, 2019. Anyone wishing to remove purple urchin will need a valid California fishing license.

We do need volunteers onshore and on kayaks as well. Van Damme State Park and campground is directly across the street. They do allow RV's to camp in the parking lot overnight for $20. There are several hotels in the area as well.

For the higher end, I'd recommend Little River Inn. For more of a budget-friendly hotel I'd recommend the Motel 6 in Fort Bragg. Motel six offers military and first responder discounts as well as AAA discount.

Dive briefing will be at the south end of the parking lot at 8:00 am Saturday."

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The president called for bipartisan unity but decried ‘ridiculous partisan investigations’ and took hard line on immigration

by Lauren Gambino

Donald Trump issued sharp warnings to Democrats, including cautioning that “ridiculous partisan investigations” would harm economic progress, in comments that clashed with an appeal for unity during his first State of the Union address to a newly divided Congress.

“If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation,” Trump declared. The presence of Democrat House speaker Nancy Pelosi on the dais behind him was an acute reminder of the political challenges he will face in the next two years.

The remarks were an apparent reference to the investigation, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, into Russia meddling in the US election as well as Democrats’ promised oversight investigations into the president’s conduct and personal finances.

In wide-ranging remarks to a joint chamber of Congress on Tuesday night that lasted more than 80 minutes, Trump appealed at length to two areas of his base supporters by reasserting his vow to build a wall on the southern US border with Mexico, and urging lawmakers to ban late-term abortions.

He also announced that he would hold a second summit with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, in Vietnam on 27 and 28 February. The leaders first met last summer in Singapore.

Trump’s speech came at a critical moment for his presidency. Halfway into his term, having just suffered serious losses in November’s congressional elections and after prompting the longest government shutdown in US history, Trump had hoped to strike a new tone with his calls on Congress to come together over infrastructure projects and his trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

“Together, we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future,” he said. “The decision is ours to make.”

However, while Trump avoided any reference to his much-threatened declaration of a national emergency over what he claims to be an immigration crisis on the southern border, he again outlined his case for a wall and accused lawmakers of hypocrisy on border security.

During the speech, Trump’s comments careened disjointedly from dark proclamations about the “lawless state of our southern border” and the “bloodthirsty monsters” who fight for Isis, to sweet moments praising the optimism of a 10-year-old girl who fought brain cancer and veterans who helped liberate Europe from Nazism during the second world war.

The president commanded one of the biggest stages in American politics on Tuesday night but, unlike last year’s address, Capitol Hill was something of a hostile environment.

Pelosi – a formidable adversary who has thwarted his border wall at every turn – sat mostly stone-faced, occasionally scanning the text of his speech. She was joined on the dais by Vice-President Mike Pence, who dutifully applauded the president at each opportunity.

Seated in front of Trump was a record number of female House members, most Democrats and many dressed in white in homage to the suffragist movement. In the gallery above were two former employees of Trump’s New Jersey golf club, both immigrant women who have gone public about its hiring practices, and the sexual assault survivor who confronted the Republican senator Jeff Flake in an elevator during the fraught confirmation of the conservative supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh.

In a moment of levity, Democratic congresswomen erupted in joyful cheers and applause when Trump said the thriving economy had helped female employment.

Trump smiled: “Don’t sit yet. You’re going to like this.”

“Exactly one century after the Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote,” he said, “we also have more women serving in the Congress than ever before.”

This time the chamber rose to its feet and Democrats and Republicans joined in a bipartisan U-S-A chant. Many of the women were elected as part of a backlash to Trump’s presidency.

Members also sang Happy Birthday to Judah Samet, a Holocaust survivor who also survived an attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh that left 11 people dead last year and on Tuesday turned 81.

Among the guests seated with the first lady, Melania Trump, were family members of a couple killed in Nevada last month, allegedly by someone who was in the country illegally, and Joshua Trump, a boy who was bullied at school because he shares a last name with the president, though is no relation.

The public gallery also included, at Democrats’ invitation, undocumented immigrants and temporary residents threatened by the Trump administration’s policies, climate scientists, labor leaders, gun violence victims and federal workers who went without pay for 35 days during the government shutdown and who are worried about a repeat.

During his speech, Trump made the case for his “zero-tolerance” immigration policies, calling it a “moral duty” to address what he has claimed to be a “crisis of illegal immigration” at the US-Mexico border.

“No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working class and America’s political class than illegal immigration,” he said, in defense of his demand for a wall. “Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.”

He also touted his stewardship of a strong economy after what he called “decades of calamitous trade policies” and committed to rebuilding America’s “crumbling infrastructure”.

The address was treated as the start of his presidential re-election campaign as several Democrats running to unseat him in 2020 sat in the audience. Among those who have declared were Democratic senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren.

In a strike at Democrats’ liberalizing policy agenda, Trump decried “new calls to adopt socialism in our country.” The reference to socialism elicited a chorus of boos from Republicans.

“America was founded on liberty and independence,” Trump said, “not government coercion, domination, and control.” Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist from Vermont who is also weighing a presidential bid, appeared bemused by the line.

On foreign policy, an area where Trump faces an increasingly adversarial Republican Senate, the president defended his decision to withdraw US troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Just hours prior, the Senate approved a resolution opposing the plan.

He vowed to work with the nation’s allies to “destroy the remnants of Isis” and said his administration ”accelerated” negotiations to reach a political agreement in Afghanistan.

“Great nations do not fight endless wars,” he said.

Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the race for governor in Georgia in an election marred by accusations of voter suppression, became the first African American woman to deliver the Democratic rebuttal to the president’s address.

Speaking from Atlanta, Abrams called voting rights the “next battle for our democracy”.

“Let’s be clear: Voter suppression is real,” Abrams said. “From making it harder to register and stay on the rolls to moving and closing polling places to rejecting lawful ballots, we can no longer ignore these threats to democracy.”


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If I were Trump I would’ve done one of two things, the SOTU speech at a school gym, someplace in deepest, darkest Deplorable Country, just the kids and him and Melania and some guy that records it and posts it on youtube. I mean what the fuck is social media supposed to be for anyway? Isn’t it supposed to bypass traditional outlets? Isn’t Trump supposed to be in the business of breaking things? It would have been short, without the tiresome and traditional standing ovations and cheering after every other phrase. What he COULD have done was to have a Q and A afterwards with them.

Or he could have booked an arena for a Deplorable rally and told the troops that this will be the SOTU speech and fuck Pelosi and Congress and the whole pack of dirty dogs.

Or he could have done both.

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THE LIGHT, TONIGHT (Monday, February 4, 2019)

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I drove down Albion-Little River Road, across the river and up Albion Ridge Road just now. It's so nice to drive slowly in quiet, windless, falling snow. It's not really cold enough, though, and the ground is wet, so it wasn't sticking anywhere but where the windshield wipers pushed it into lines. And it stopped as soon as I got home. Darn.

The thermometer in the heater control of the car tells the temperature outside. It said 36F in The Woods, at my mother's house where it was already snowing when I went out, then 34F at the Y, near the airport and all the way down through the trees, 36F again at the bridge, and 33F at my house, that's about the same height and landscape as the airport. It's 41F in my house. I'm gonna put on spaghetti and meatballs and sit here in two pairs of pyjamas at once and read Leigh Brackett and think about things, with the electric heater in my lap, and be careful not to burn myself on any of it.

The song stuck in my head, that came up out of my memory in time to the windshield wipers, is The Sins of Mem-phisto by John Prine. "Nothin' can stop, nothin' can stop, nothin' can stop the sins. Of Mem-phisto." He had thought Memphis, Tennessee was named after Memphis in Egypt, which it was, but he also thought Memphis, Egypt was named for the Prince of Darkness, Mem-phisto, which is not quite right, but so what?

—Marco McClean

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‘LEGAL CANNABIS BUSINESSES…CURRENTLY AT A HUGE DISADVANTAGE,’ says lawmaker with bill to lower marijuana taxes in Sac Bee

Several new bills to assist the struggling legal cannabis industry are coming before California lawmakers in 2019. The Sacramento Bee posted a story today about new bills aimed at helping retail cannabis businesses and growers overcome the disadvantage they face when trying to sell their product profitably while black market businesses are able to undercut them.

The article highlights a number of bills before the legislature to lower taxes, give tax deductions, and the ability to bank to the newly legal industry.

The article points out,

“Unfriendly banks, high taxes and black-market competitors are some of the obstacles that licensed cannabis companies say hold them back as they try to cultivate a new industry in California. Some California lawmakers want to give them a hand, and they’re considering a set of bills that would in ways great and small fine tune the law governing recreational marijuana”

The author goes on to discuss some of the bills currently being brought up by California lawmakers. Senate Bill 51, for instance, would provide some relief to those businesses struggling to pay taxes, rent, etc. when they aren’t allowed to use banks (banks are federally insured so most won’t do business with the cannabis industry.) If it passes, among other provisions, banks and credit unions could issue special checks that cannabusinesses could only use to pay other businesses physically located in California.

Another bill, AB 286 would give a temporary reduction (three years) in taxes to legal farmers–this would include totally removing the bud cultivation tax. According to the article, Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, one of the co-sponsors explained, “The legal cannabis businesses are currently at a huge disadvantage [to the black market].”

The article also gives an excellent quick overview of other cannabis related bills coming up. Read it here.

(Kym Kemp, Red-headed Black Belt. Courtesy,

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Caretaker Handyman Looking For a Place to Stay…

I have a motor home I live in, I have a step van I keep all my tools in, and a couple of trucks, a riding lawn mower, and a wood splitter, a wheelbarrow and a handcart etc. Just looking for a place to live with no problems so I can go out and do my work so I can survive. I'm a handy man with plenty of skills and tools. All my work I know how to do is all good, having references to back that. I'm 60 years old, quiet when not doing anything, no drugs or booze nor any friends or pets. I am a clean and well organized individual for the most part. I'm wishing for someone to take me in to help me and in return I will help you.

707-409-4147 AL

Alfred Nunez

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The merchants on E. Redwood Ave between N. Harrison and below Main are putting together a project that celebrates the history of our quirky little stretch of Fort Bragg, Would you like to participate?

We are looking for historic pictures of the buildings on E Redwood and maybe even a story or two. For example, does anyone have a picture of Larry Spring’s building at 225 E Redwood Ave., when it was the Finnish Cooperative store? How about pictures and stories about Spud Nuts or the Golden West? Or pictures of the Bike Barber when it was a barbershop? Barbershops are filled with stories!

Here are our details:

If you have scanned/digital material, please email

Preferred file size for scans is 8x10 @ 300 dpi

If you have photographs or other hard copies, please drop them off at Interior, 224 E Redwood Ave., Att: Monica, between 12 & 5 from Monday to Saturday. Please include your contact details so that we can return your material after it is scanned.

Possible usage for stories and pictures: Window display, social media, map, and promotional material. Let's have some fun with Fort Bragg's singular, unique history! Thank you in advance,

E. Redwood Ave. merchants.

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A 25-year-old Mendocino County woman and mother of two young children had suffered persistent postpartum depression when she took her own life early Sunday in a sudden and uncharacteristically volatile moment, family members said.

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THE MENDOCINO WOMEN'S POLITICAL COALITION invites you to celebrate Mendocino County elected women — Carre Brown; Katrina Bartolomie; Michelle Hutchins; Shari Schapmire — on Friday, February 22nd, 2019 from 4-6pm at the Grace Hudson Museum, 431 South Main Street, Ukiah, Ca 95482. RSVP Linda McClure (707) 272-0580 or

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HART FAMILY TRAGEDY TO BE SENT TO A JURY for a determination of whether it was an accident or a crime.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, February 5, 2019

Bailey, Cabada, Duman, Kelsey

AMRITA BAILEY, Willits. Domestic battery.

RENE CABADA, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.

ROCKY DUMAN, Ukiah. Controlled substance, no license, parole violation. (Frequent Flyer)


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by Jeff Costello

In my father's day, people who did specialized, skilled things were called engineers. He was an electronics engineer. He maintained the radar apparatus at Chincoteague Island, watching for German U-boats. Later he designed circuitry for guided missiles. He taught a night class for beginning engineers.

His tendency was to call skilled people engineers of one kind or another. He was old-school and always complained about "women drivers." My mother, as it happens, did not drive.

In the fifties, one of his rants was about "packaging engineers." He should see how it is today. Since the Great Poisoned Tylenol affair, much packaging has become difficult to deal with. And not just pills. Some genius packaging "engineers" have come up with a material that is apparently a hybrid of plastic and paper. It is nearly impossible to rip or tear and I reach for the scissors every time I want to open a bag of frozen vegetables. Rubber bands to close the package back up for the freezer.

Here in the flyover zone I buy a lot of frozen fish because there is no native seafood to be had unless one catches trout in a stream with a fly rig. In the Great Lakes region there are some very good fish to be had, although they be can hard to find in stores sometimes. Anyway, I must content myself with salmon or ahi (yellowfin tuna) from the Pacific or cod from Alaska or the Atlantic. Out come the kitchen shears again. Frozen fish is mostly packed in seal-a-meal plastic, usually dead up to the contents, so one must cut right where the fish abuts the wrapping.

Seal-a-Meal packaging was popular among pot growers on the Big Island of Hawaii in the 80s to get the product past the drug-sniffing dogs in the post office. Most of the pakalolo was sent to the mainland in the mail. I'm about to open some frozen tuna. Cut along the plastic, let the juice drain out, then rinse the plastic thoroughly to kill the fish odor. How I long for the times when I could buy fresh caught fish from guys selling fresh-caught fish out of pickup trucks on the road. No packaging, no tax… No engineers.

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I HOPE MY AMERICAN HOSTS will forgive me for raising this, but the squalor we saw in The City was frightful. San Francisco has always been one of favourite US cities, but the degree of homelessness, mental illness and drug abuse we saw on this trip was truly shocking. Walking round SF on a Sunday Morning and we saw sights we couldn’t believe. This must be one of the richest cities in the world – home to 4 of the 10 richest people on the planet according to Wiki. I asked friends about it, and they shrugged it off. “The City has always attracted the homeless because of the mild weather,” … “It’s a drug thing” … “it’s too difficult” … “you get used to it.” Well, I didn’t. I found it quite shocking the number of folk sleeping rough on the sidewalks, the smell of weed and drug impedimenta everywhere, the filth, mental illness and degradation on view just a few meters from the financial center driving Silicon Valley. It’s a city where the destitute seem to have become invisible to the Uber hailing elites. We found ourselves hopping on one of the beautiful F-Route Trolley Buses to find nearly every seat occupied by someone lugging around their worldly possessions around in a plastic bag. It was desperately sad.

— Bill Blain

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24th St. in Noe Valley, San Francisco, looking up towards Twin Peaks, 1901

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WE HAVE A FEW old mouth-to-mouth tales; we exhume from old trunks and boxes and drawers letters without salutation or signature, in which men and women who once lived and breathed are now merely initials or nicknames out of some now incomprehensible affection which sounds to us like Sanskrit or Choctaw; we see dimly people, the people in whose living blood and seed we ourselves lay dormant and waiting, in this shadowy attenuation of time possessing now heroic proportions, performing their acts of simple passion and simple violence, impervious to time and inexplicable.

— William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!

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I remember my mother and her mother watching the soaps, as they were known, addicted, it seemed, to the endless narrative. They were also into the Saturday baseball game of the week because they enjoyed the tight pants. Early '50's. The scene was firmly planted inside my head, too.

This media was sponsored appropriately, one by an array of salves and shades and scents attractive to women, the other with ads for shaving supplies and sexy cars for the men. This is how the corporate folks got into our heads, and these days, they have opened the spigot. All of the fantasies are fully at play. Sex, and power, and irresistible charm, accompanied in the foreground by all the right stuff.

These folks steer our interest, sell us our lives, and through them, our culture, our country. And they show no intent of doing it with our welfare in mind. What is usually presented as care for our spiritual and physical health (marking the most trodden paths to the most commonly sought signs of success) is, of course, what they are here for, what makes them go. It brings in the bread, so to say.

We must get off this fucked bus, and soon. Not desert it so much as redefine what it's for. Make it clear that their seeds will no longer grow in this garden. Without this resistance, we will be tricked into building a world based suicidally on ever more and more and more. And the world turns as we argue and turns with, now, the merest suggestion of a wobble. And it turns and it turns and it turns.

(Bruce Brady)

* * *


by Dan Bacher

The Bureau of Reclamation released late yesterday the Biological Assessment for the re-initiation of consultation on the coordinated long-term operation of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project. Below is the announcement for Reclamation. I will post responses as they become available.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Bureau of Reclamation released late yesterday the Biological Assessment for the re-initiation of consultation on the coordinated long-term operation of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project. The document was transmitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service for consideration in developing new biological opinions covering CVP and SWP operations. Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources re-initiated consultation in 2016 based on new information related to multiple years of drought and ongoing science efforts.

In October 2018, President Donald J. Trump signed the Presidential Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West, citing the "diminished…ability" of America's infrastructure "to deliver water and power in an efficient, costeffective way." To that end, the Memorandum directed the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce to work together to complete the consultation process in a timely manner.

The Biological Assessment supports Reclamation’s consultation pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. It was prepared consistent with the timeline outlined in the Presidential Memorandum. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service are expected to issue final biological opinions within 135 days.

“It has been 10 years since the biological opinions on the coordinated long-term operation of the CVP and SWP were issued. Since then, we’ve experienced extreme drought and invested significant resources to advance the science of the Central Valley and the Delta in coordination with our state and federal partner agencies and stakeholders. The result of our investments is an improved understanding of the system,” said Mid-Pacific Regional Director Ernest Conant. “By expanding our toolkit with the best science and using what we know today, new biological opinions will allow us to maximize water and power benefits while supporting endangered fish populations.”

The Biological Assessment analyzes potential effects of the proposed action on federally listed endangered and threatened species and critical habitat for these species. The proposed action incorporates the best available science into the operation of the CVP and SWP. Proposed actions outlined in the document include temperature management at Shasta Dam, fall habitat and salinity measures in the Delta, and entrainment management related to water exports. Together, these proposed actions aim to give water operators more flexibility, maximize water supply delivery and optimize power generation consistent with applicable laws.

The Biological Assessment is available here.

* * *

* * *

HEROES AND PATRIOTS returns live this Thursday, February 7, 9-10a.m. with guest: Professor Stephen Zunes, University of San Francisco. Heroes and Patriots is hosted by John Sakowicz and Mary Massey. Listener call-ins are welcome and encouraged. That's Heroes and Patriots, Thursday morning, 9-10 a.m. live on KMUD Community Radio.

Heroes and Patriots is a program about national security, intelligence and foreign policy. The show is streamed live the first Thursday of each month, 9-10 a.m. at KMUD.ORG

Like us on Facebook and YouTube at Heroes and Patriots, KMUD Community Radio.

* * *

* * *


To the Editor:

I just finished watching online broadcast of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meeting, February 5, and I am absolutely dumbfounded as to why the County CEO cannot tell the Board what the county's program/staff costs are for our county's stalled -- and largely unsuccessful -- cannabis permit program.

Why not? We're several years into the developing an ordinance to decriminalize cannabis cultivation.

Several years!

Haven't something like $3 million in fees already been collected to date from local cannabis farmers, and yet the Board heard testimony today from these very same farmers that they can't get more than three-month temporary provisional licenses.

It would be like telling shopkeepers that they have to pay an upfront sales tax on what they may sell in the future, but haven't yet sold.

It's no way to operate a business. Upfront costs. No backend assurances. Everything uncertain. Too many variables.

Let me repeat: Only upfront costs.

I wouldn't blame local cannabis farmers if they go back to selling to the black market again. It only seems fair. And that's not good news for the MCSO. They want it to be easy for cannabis farmers to be in compliance.

About program/staff costs…If there's one thing we know about any government bureaucracy it's that bureaucracies take on a life of their own. They grow. They replicate. They blow up in size. Unknown program/staff costs have a nasty habit of becoming runaway program/staff costs..

What a waste! Mendocino County is losing its leadership position in growing the best cannabis in the world.

What a shame! Cannabis could have been Mendocino County's tax base what wine and wine taxes are to Napa.

Instead, we have a bunch of new county employees who do nothing except wait for the state to act. And they're expensive. Salaries plus benefits that are 70% of salaries. And they're paid out of the county's general funds, not federal or state grant money.

Let the Board of Supervisors know what you think.

Here's the link to today's Board meeting:

John Sakowicz,


* * *


From: Daniel Bacher

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.

Once the most abundant fish in the entire estuary, the population has collapsed to the point where not one fish was found in the 2018 Fall Midwater Trawl survey. The 2018 abundance index (0), a relative measure of abundance, is the lowest in FMWT history.

“No Delta Smelt were collected from any station during our survey months of September- December,” wrote James White, environmental scientist for the CDFW’s Bay Delta Region.

This is not the only survey of Delta smelt populations that the CDFW conducts — and the other assessments have found smelt, although in alarmingly low numbers.

White noted, “While this survey did not catch any Delta Smelt, it does not mean they are not present. Spring Kodiak Trawl (SKT) survey caught 5 Delta Smelt in December.”

White also said another survey, the Enhanced Delta Smelt Monitoring (EDSM) survey, caught 13 Delta Smelt during December.

While decades of water exports and environmental degradation under previous governors and federal administrations have brought the smelt, once the most abundant fish in the Delta, to the edge of extinction, Governor Jerry Brown and his administration did nothing to reverse the trend, but only helped to worse the endangered fish’s status, according to fishermen and environmentalists.

Before this fall, the 2017 abundance index (2) was lowest in FMWT history. Only 2 Delta smelt were collected at index stations in the survey during the fall of 2017.

The Delta smelt is not the only fish absent during the fall 2018 survey. The CDFW didn’t observe any Sacramento splittail, a native minnow species that was formerly listed under the Endangered Species Act until Bush administration delisted the species and the Obama administration agreed with the delisting, in the 2018 fall survey either.

The striped bass, a popular gamefish that migrates from the ocean, San Francisco Bay and Delta up into the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers every spring to spawn, also showed an alarming drop in abundance during the survey.

The 2018 abundance index (42) for striped bass was the lowest in FMWT history, slightly less than the previous low value (43) in 2010. Thirty-one age-0 striped bass were collected at index stations, noted White.

The longfin smelt, a cousin of the Delta smelt, isn’t faring very well either in the estuary. “The 2018 abundance index (52) was the 5th lowest value in FMWT history, a 63% reduction from the previous year. Thirty-one Longfin Smelt were collected at index stations,” said White.

The number of threadfin shad, an introduced forage fish species, continued to decline. The 2018 abundance index (198) was the 4th lowest in survey history, a 32% reduction from the previous year. The CDFW found 150 threadfin shad at index stations.

The abundance of American shad in the trawl is also disappointing. The 2018 abundance index (1064) was the 21st lowest value on record, a 66% reduction from the previous year. Seven-hundred and two American shad were collected at index stations.

The January 2 memo summarizing the Fall Midwater Trawl results is available here:…

The link to the Fall Midwater Trawl monthly abundance indices is available here:…

Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), commented on the disastrous decline of Delta smelt and other fish species in the 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.

Dr. Jonathan Rosenfield, the Lead Scientist for The Bay Institute, emphasized in a tweet that Delta smelt are “not extinct,” since other sampling programs still catching them.

“Extinction is not imminent (if agencies take action),” he noted. “‘Flexible”, ‘adaptive’ implementation of the ESA (Endangered Species Act) has not worked. It’s time to enforce protections.”

Scientists don’t have any easy answer for the precipitous decline of Delta smelt over the past couple of years, particularly in 2017, a record water year when biologists would have expected a rebound.

“The answer is that we really don’t know,” said Dr. Peter B Moyle, Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, at the Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, Center for Watershed Sciences, UC Davis, in December 2017. “The best explanation I can think of is that numbers are so low that an increase (or decrease) in the index would not be detectable with the FMT sampling.”

“Another is that there was so much water last winter (2017) that smelt were more dispersed than usual and had a hard time finding mates; this would keep numbers low. When numbers are as low, as they clearly are for smelt, random factors in sampling, in distribution, in spawning success etc can make a big difference to the total population or the index,” said Moyle.

“Note that Delta smelt are still abundant enough in places so that focused sampling can find them. For example, Tien-Chieh Hung had no problem collecting a 100 smelt in one day for his smelt culture program,” he noted

A number of factors have resulted in the decline of Delta smelt and the other pelagic species, including increases in toxics and invasive species, but no factor has helped precipitate the collapse of Delta fish species more than the export of big quantities of water to agribusiness and Southern California water agencies from the state and federal pumping facilities in the South Delta over the past 50 years, according to fish advocates.

The record total for water exports, including water diverted by the Contra Costa Canal and North Bay Aqueduct, was 6,633,000 acre-feet in 2011 under the Brown administration. That was 163,000 acre-feet more than the previous record of 6,470,000 acre-feet set in 2005 under the Schwarzenegger administration, according to DWR data.

Found only in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the Delta smelt mainly inhabits the freshwater-saltwater mixing zone of the estuary, except during its spawning season. That’s when it migrates upstream to freshwater following winter “first flush” flow events, around March to May.

The smelt is very susceptible to changes in the environmental conditions of its habitat due to its one-year lifecycle and relatively low fecundity. Because of this, the fish is regarded as an “indicator species” that demonstrates the health of the Delta ecosystem.

It is imperative that the Gavin Newson administration break with the failed water policies of Brown and his predecessors and adopt rational water policies, based on science, that restore Delta smelt, Chinook salmon, steelhead and other fish species and the San Francisco Bay Delta ecosystem while providing a reliable and sustainable water supply for all Californians.

Remember: Extinction is forever. If the smelt becomes extinct, salmon, steelhead and other fish species will soon follow.

Background from CDFW: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has conducted the Fall Midwater Trawl Survey (FMWT) to index the fall abundance of pelagic fishes nearly annually since1967. FMWT equipment and methods have remained consistent since the survey’sinception, which allows the indices to be compared across time. These relative abundance indices are not intended to approximate population sizes. However, we expect that our indices reflect general patterns in population change.

The FMWT conducts monthly surveys from September through December. The annual abundance index is the sum of the September through December monthly survey indices. During each monthly survey, one 12-minute oblique midwater trawl tow is conducted at each of 100 index stations used for index calculation and at an additional 22 non-index stations that provide enhanced distribution information.

The 2018 sampling season completed on December 18. Field crews successfully conducted tows at all index and non-index stations during the first three survey months. Two non-index stations in Cache Slough (stations 713 and 721) were not sampled in December due to heavy vegetation damaging sampling gear.

Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento. He can be reached at: Dan Bacher

* * *

I HAD LEARNED TO THINK much and bitterly before my time… talk not of the bitterness of middle-age and after life; a boy can feel all that and much more, when upon his young soul the mildew has fallen; and the fruit, which with others is only blasted after ripeness, with him is nipped in the first blossom and bud. And never again such blights be made good; they strike too deep, and leave such a scar that the air of Paradise might not erase it.

— Herman Melville, Redburn

* * *


  1. mr. wendal February 6, 2019


    “Numerous county employees are sitting at home collecting paychecks on paid admin leave.”

    Does anyone know how many employees are currently on paid administrative leave, when each of them were put on leave, and the cost to the county (us taxpayers) for this practice? I hope the union can persuade a supervisor to put this on an agenda with a demand for numbers.

    The numbers may be difficult to obtain. What is in the air in the room where the board meetings are held? Why no requirement for metrics and comprehensible date to be a part of reports? That should be a fundamental part of training and the board members should demand proper reports and repeat the demand, with consequences, until compliance. Look at other counties and the comprehensive information their supervisors are given. Officials in those counties would not put up with this and why our supervisors do is incomprehensible.

  2. james marmon February 6, 2019


    I’m willing to testify as to my experience of being placed on Paid Administrative Leave. 5 months of setting in my home being told that the only time I could leave it between the hours of 8 thru 5 was to call in and ask permission. I had to give them my home land line phone number and told I had to make myself available during all work hours. They sent security to my home over 60 miles away just to look over my fence, I was basically on house arrest. It was a very difficult and painful time for me. I was not told what I was being investigated about or how long the investigation would take, no end date. When I finally did return to work, all I was given was a letter of reprimand for questioning authority and a corrective action plan that prohibited me from ever questioning authority again. Come on now, it took them 5 months to discover that I questioned their authority? It was pretty well known by everyone, going back several years, especially during the period of time that I was union president.

    • james marmon February 6, 2019

      They do this when they don’t have enough to fire you. It’s a message to you that it’s time to resign, your time with them is over.

    • james marmon February 6, 2019

      If anyone read the Grand Jury, First 5 white sheet, and UC Berkeley reports and a couple of lawsuits I was involved in you will understand why I had to question their authority. Mendocino Children were at great risk and Child Welfare Services was experiencing a real crisis, not a manufactured one, like most of Mendo’s crisis’. By the way, proof that Allman reads the AVA, The first thing he told the BoS yesterday was that mental health is in a crisis.


      “The Grand Jury recognizes the new management of Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency reforms that focus on employee retention, a more employee-supportive management style, and the development of a training unit, which addresses the lack of required staff with Master of Social Work degrees. Family and Children’s Services utilizes a California State Waiver of Professional Services because they are unable to fill open social worker positions in the Department. The waiver needs to be renewed on or before January 6, 2018.”

      I don’t usually toot my own horn, but I’m glad I could help, thank you AVA for giving me a platform all these years, otherwise I would have been completely disappeared.

      The Agency had to ask for another waiver this year, they still don’t have the required Master level social workers and don’t want them, because they question authority. They’ll renew their waiver forever if they don’t clean house of what’s left of the Trinity gang. Deputy Director Jena Conner still take her orders from Becky Wilson at RCS. Becky was Jena’s supervisor for over 10 years at CPS before she was promoted to RCS.

      James Marmon MSW
      Former Social Worker V
      Mendocino County Family and Children’s Services.

      • Lazarus February 6, 2019

        “By the way, proof that Allman reads the AVA, The first thing he told the BoS yesterday was that mental health is in a crisis.”

        I’ve been told that he has contact with the AVA on a regular basis, but who really knows but the principals; And I’ve also heard that the BoS regulars will deny ever reading the AVA…but they all seem to know what’s in it, on a daily basis.
        As always,

  3. Arthur Juhl February 6, 2019

    When is the BOS going to look at the Budget, understand its contents then make decisions based on facts! We voted for these people based on their knowledge. Let us make sure they understand that they are using our hard earned money to operate the county!

  4. Kirk Vodopals February 6, 2019

    RE: the love drug aka devil weed…

    I was lamenting to someone the other day about the bureaucratic mess of the pot permitting program in Mendocino County and threw out the rough number of 120 approved permits for cultivation. We were in Healdsburg and the person responded that Sonoma County has only issued something like 20 cultivation permits in their County. I haven’t confirmed that, but definitely found it noteworthy

  5. Harvey Reading February 6, 2019


    A portrait of a country in rapid decline.

  6. George Hollister February 6, 2019

    Too many Democrats are anti-legal immigrant, just encase this requires a reminder. That’s the problem. Too many Democrats only vote for a functional immigration policy when their vote doesn’t matter. When Democrats have controlled Washington, and in theory, could have passed immigration reform, they have stepped back, or sabotaged that possibility. In the current context, there is no immigration deal to be made, wall or no wall. Trump fails to see this because he’s ignorant, and as a result doesn’t know he’s being successfully played by Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer. It pays to get your information from somewhere other than the shows.

  7. John Sakowicz February 6, 2019

    The unfunded pension liability will be the budget buster. The Mendocino County is headed towards insolvency, dragged there by MCERA. It’s not a matter of “if”, but “when”.

    Why doesn’t the Retirement Board and Board of Supervisors convene a joint meeting to figure out our burn rate of cash, and when, exactly, the system will run out of cash and assets it sells for cash?

    At that same meeting, the actuary should be directed to come up with projections for lowering the assumed rate of return and raising contribution rates.

    Ted Stephens! John Dickerson! Where the hell are you?

    — John Sakowicz

  8. George Hollister February 6, 2019

    Actually John Sakowicz, where the Hell have you been? Just because Mendocino County is fertile ground for chameleons, doesn’t mean everyone fails to notice.

  9. mr. wendal February 6, 2019


    “After a painful from-the-public presentation by a distraught woman whose horses have been sequestered at huge county expense because of her inability to care for them, Gjerde wanted to know if the county was still paying for the small herd’s maintenance. The answer from CEO Angelo was no.”

    The county IS still paying for the herd’s maintenance, but not for much longer. I watched the meeting and the response to Supervisor Gjerde came not from CEO Angelo, but from County Counsel Elliott: “We did just recently get the order we needed through the criminal court and so we anticipate that we will be able to stop paying monies out soon.”

    Was the $50,000 that Supervisor Gjerde mentioned the total committed for the care of the horses? Or has more money been spent? Why has it taken so long to get the order from the DA’s office?

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