Letters (Feb. 6, 2019)

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PENSION BLUES

To the Editor:

Quoted from the MCERA's January 2019 Newsletter:

"December 2018 saw another decline in the market value of MCERA funds. With market losses of $23 M, the portfolio closed the year at a value of $476 M. The preliminary return during December was -4.80%, compared to a benchmark return of -4.25%.

"Obviously, investment losses are not the outcome the MCERA Board and staff and hoping to see. However, it bears repeating that since the portfolio is invested for the long-run, we should expect investment losses in times where the financial markets are down. Over the long-run, we remain confident in the ability of the MCERA investment program to earn the target 7% annual rate of return.

"For more information, download a PDF of the December Preliminary Investment Report.'

And so, I ask, how big is the MCERA's UAL? How monstrously big is Mendocino County' unfunded pension liability?

Is it $350 million? Is it $400 million? Is it more than $400 million?

And will we bankrupt our kids and grandchildren by issue hundreds of millions of dollars in pension obligation bonds to fund this nightmare, and dare them to file a "generational equity" lawsuit?

John Sakowicz

Ukiah

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ED NOTE: Sako, Ted Stephens and John Dickerson (SS&D) are very big on what they say is the County's unrealistic projection of the rate of return on the County's pension investments in the stock market. They say the projected rate of return is 7%, which they say will not be achieved and that a more realistic lower projection would require the County or the pensioners to put more money into the pension fund to assure that it is "fully funded" for the foreseeable future. SS&D say they can't get anyone in authority to see their point. Periodocally, they complain, but nothing changes much. (Although we seem to recall a slight reduction a few years ago when the County was more flush than it is now.)  

Obviously, the County is hesitant to consider lowering the expected rate of return because each notch they lower it translates to a bigger pension contribution from the County and/or the pensioners. The County, of course, can't even tell what this year's revenues are nor what each department's budget performance is even though we are more than half-way through the fiscal year.  But the County and the Pension Board (most of whom are current or future pension recipients) are reluctant to bring up the subject for fear that they'd have to allocate more of their precious general fund dollars to the pension system. Meanwhile, multiples of millions are shoveled to our privately owned mental health services.  

We don't believe the stock market returns either. But their numbers are their numbers. The Pension Board can't just go off on their own and say, "We don't think the stock market will produce that much so Mendo has to pay more." They need revised numbers before they can do anything like that.  

The SS&D trio should produce a chart with options for various rates of return assumptions and show exactly how much that would cost the county for each increment of reduction. Then they'd say what county services or expenses could be reduced to cover each amount. Then they'd explain what they think the correct rate of return should be and why they think that.  

Then we all could see what their adjustments would mean as a practical matter so that decisions could be evaluated and, perhaps adjustments could be made. Until they do that (or if there's a huge stock market drop which forces everybody's hand) all their criticism is whistling in the dark.  

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LATERAL MOVE?

To The Editor, 

Well, well, I see in the Jan. 30 Off the Record Column of the AVA, that one of our deadbeat city council members, Maureen Mulheren has announced she will run for Second District Supervisor. Now I realize that as 2ND District Supe she will represent mainly the City of Ukiah, but in my opinion, I feel she can do a little less damage to Ukiah as a supervisor than she could as a city council person.

In order to celebrate Mulheren’s hopefully leaving the city council, I would like to paraphrase a little item once written by Herb Caen about President Truman and say the following in regard to the city council, all the trees will be dying in Ukiah, the sap is not running. 

Thank you,

David Anderson 

Ukiah

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FAKE & FRAUD

Editor, 

Trump’s fake charity foundation was a FRAUD, the judge ruled, so Trump again was shown to be a FRAUD like last year when a judge ruled that Trump had to pay a $25 million dollar fine for his FRAUD university scam. 

Trump has been working with shady Russians for over 20 years, and everything he does seems to be dividing and harming the USA while enriching himself and the billionaire class and RUSSIA. Absolutely True! 

Domestic terrorist Jerry Philbrick, who wants to murder US citizens for being "liberals"… is just like a cancerous anal wort on this paper, and he has all the charm of one! 

Best Regards,

Rob Mahon

Covelo

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RENT GOUGING 

Letter to the Editor:

One of the biggest highlights for over a year in 2018 affecting the lives of 500 low income people (over 10% of the population in Willits) was rent stabilization for Wagonwheel mobilehome park; after predatory rich investors purchased the park and raised the lot rent by a whopping 22 percent (an increase of $110 a month).

After months of meetings rent stabilization was put on the agenda, but on June 27, 2018 city council refused to pass it; forcing people to try to sell their homes or lose them due to excessive rent increases. Their excuse: “It would cost the city too much.” 

Nothing could be further from the truth, as rent stabilization ordinances are paid for by residents of the park, who would much rather pay $10 a month (which equals to $1,400 a month for the city to pay to push paperwork) than another $110 a month increase!! All of this information was given to every city council member, as 100 other cities in California have passed rent stabilization for their mobile home parks, including Ukiah! There are more reasons to pass rent stabilization than NOT. 

Another reason is that mobile home parks in Willits WERE the only affordable housing that is NOT government subsidized. It appears that Willits is now in violation of federal laws to help their citizens.

Strange. The City Council was on our side until the new city manager came on board. Bob Perrault was on the side of the people not politics. So sad for the low income people who make up our work force in Willits — not rich people, people who work in our local fast food industry, Safeway, Grocery Outlet, etc. What happens to our ever-shrinking population in Willits when the work force is gone?

Cheryl Abney

Willits 

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A PASSAGE TO INDIA CLOSE TO HOME

Editor,

You know how it is sometimes. Like how you’re bored to death with your daily ritual that begins in the morning with brushing your teeth and taking your vitamins and doing your exercises and then going to the post office and the super market, and if you’re lucky, to your doctor or dentist appointment, and then to Rite-Aid for the legal drugs you require to stay alive. And, by golly, Office Depot may be on your mind too since your printer is blinking low on ink, and the light bulb in the hall is out so you’re on course for the forty foot high shelves in the hundred yard long aisles of Home Depot where if you remember what your warm friendly family-run neighborhood hardware store was once like your depression meds better kick in, and since it’s crazy to buy toilet paper and paper towels from the retail heights of the super market, the cavernous corporate warehouse of discount Costco is calling, never mind the near gridlocked five-acre parking lot that’s the most dangerous venue in town.

Thank God you own a motorcycle and it’s low on fuel and so are you after a morning of such stimulation. Escape from the mundane begins the moment you hit the starter button and feel and hear your dear steed come alive with all that horsepower between your legs. Call it a late breakfast or an early lunch, the only thing that matters at eleven am is your timing is excellent, you can ride anywhere the grub sounds good and chances are great there won’t be a crowd. Where to fuel up both rider and machine at a place that feels like the escape you need?

Right here in town it is, at Ketel’s Union 76 gas station, car wash, detail and deli. Where you can fill up the Honda with high test and hit the deli for delectable choices from Mrs. Ketel’s backroom kitchen that include juicy tandoori chicken sticks, hot samosas your choice baked or fried, and rich chicken curry ladled over a steaming mound of vegetable rice. As you can tell, the roots here are in the Punjab in Northern India from whence Family Ketel emigrated a generation ago. As I sit here astride my bike inhaling such wonderful specialties, my mind wanders to the high regard I have for these people who arrived here all those years ago in a country where the language and the culture couldn’t have been more foreign, and yet they did more than survive, they prevailed. Think how you’d fare launching a business in Amritsar. Dear President Trump: You might want to re-think the conflagrating issue of immigration.

City escape? Sometimes it’s much closer to home than you realize.

Denis Rouse

Sequim, Washington

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WHERE'S AL?

Editor,

We are having the coldest winter on record. 60 below. Where is Al Gore? Where is global warming? Where is climate change? Where are these idiots now? They're hiding, aren't they?

People were netting butterflies down on the Mendocino Headlands. All of a sudden, Parks and Beaches showed up, along with Calfire, Fish and Game, Caltrans, Highway Patrol, Sheriff's office, ACLU, EPA, Mendocino County Transportation Department, Homeland Security, and Animal Control. There were 15 liberals dancing and playing music. Yeah! They handcuffed and arrested the people for cruel and unusual torture. A $1,000 fine and two weeks in jail for netting some butterflies so they could look at them. How do you like that? The liberals were shouting with glee. 

What has happened to the red-blooded Americans? Is it all blue now? Do they all bleed blue? Nobody got any balls to stand up to these ghoulish people? 

Officers are being shot in the line of duty so they have to change their policy. They should approach every situation with weapon drawn and ready to fire. Don't get caught in an ambush by some innocent looking person. Be ready to blast. 

The liberal politicians who make up the rules for the police make it unsafe for officers to do their job. They are not out there in the middle of the night in the middle of the road stopping drunks and felons and stuff. They sit behind their desks doing nothing but making up cockeyed rules. The officers have to be ready to shoot in a matter of a second. When they approach a car full of people they should stay in their car and use their loudspeaker and make everybody get out of the car and put their hands on the roof before they get out of their car. When they approach anybody, whether it's in a barroom, a restaurant, a home, or on the sidewalk, if they have to approach anybody they should have their guns out down by their leg. Not only that, but out and ready to go and it doesn't matter what these god damn liberals think about that. Let these guys do their job. They go through pure hell just trying to get their job done and they are hated by the liberals and the environmentalists. They do a hell of a good job considering what they have to face every day and every night. And we should respect them a little bit for all they do.  

God bless Donald Trump

Jerry Philbrick

Comptche

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OUR WATER SUPPLY IS ‘DAM’ IMPORTANT

Editor,

The Mendocino County Farm Bureau appreciates the more than 150 people that took the time last week to attend the showing of the movie, A River’s Last Chance, and for the assistance in the promotion of the event from the Ukiah Daily Journal. It was gratifying to see so many individuals willing to learn more about the Eel River, the Potter Valley Project and their water supply.

Increasing the awareness of the inter-basin water transfer and the Potter Valley Project for residents in the Russian River watershed has been a mission of the Farm Bureau for the last few decades. This issue is even more critical now that PG&E made the announcement last Friday that they, “will expeditiously cease all activities related to the relicensing of the Project. Our decision to cease Project relicensing will also result in the stoppage of our efforts to sell the Project via the Request for Offers (RFO) process.”

The sudden and unexpected halt to the relicensing and sales process related to the Project that a number of local residents, agencies and elected officials have participated in over the last year is like a slap in the face from PG&E. Is the Potter Valley Project, which provides the water supply for 600,000 people, our agricultural economy and environmental benefits for listed species in the Russian River going to be allowed to become a casualty of a bankruptcy filing?

This is a good question, but it isn’t the question. The real question is, are those communities that have become dependent upon the water supply provided by the Potter Valley Project since 1908 prepared to stand up to protect that water? There are plenty of vocal individuals who are not shy about supporting the decommissioning and removal of the Potter Valley Project. Now is the time for those who support the Project to raise their voices and tell their story as this new chapter in the relicensing process begins.

If you live or do business in Potter Valley, Redwood Valley, Calpella, Talmage, Ukiah, Hopland, Cloverdale, Geyserville, Alexander Valley and Healdsburg, you especially need to pay attention to this issue. Your water supply is in serious jeopardy! If you recreate at Lake Pillsbury or Lake Mendocino, you need to pay attention. If you recognize the indisputable value of the water supply provided from these lakes for fire suppression efforts in 2017 and 2018, you need to pay attention. If you understand the value of this water supply as it is used to enhance conditions in the Russian River to support listed species of fish and all aquatic species, you need to pay attention. We need to assure that our irreplaceable water supply is protected and locally controlled.

Mendocino County Farm Bureau will continue to support the pursuit of local control of the Potter Valley Project and we hope that all of those who appreciate the numerous beneficial uses of this water will also step to the plate to offer support as well. As long as the tap turns on, there isn’t a thought given to the water source. What happens if you open the tap and no water comes out?

Devon Jones, 

Executive Director Mendocino County Farm Bureau

Ukiah

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ED NOTE: Coupla things here: We've been watching diversion-related matters for years, and still regret not having been able to walk the tunnel when it was briefly closed for some repairs, but a fair settlement has to begin with much higher water rates for farmers; the present rates are low at the expense of most users, i.e., households. And Mendo absolutely must re-negotiate the 1955 deal with Sonoma County whereby the SoCo Water Agency gets most of the water stored in Lake Mendocino because SoCo paid for Coyote dam way prior to the downstream population explosion. Supervisor Pinches couldn't even get a second to discuss re-negotiation! Assuming the Farm Bureau and wine bloc water hog cry babies are willing to be reasonable — they act like their virtually free water is heavenly ordained — there's Humboldt County agitating to shut down the whole diversion show to bring back the fishery. What we have is basically an old world scheme to generate power to illuminate savage Ukiah, circa 1910, by damming the upper Eel and running part of the Eel through a mile-long tunnel dug by Chinese labor to power turbines to light up the county seat, not to provide water for 2019 booze grapes and for Sonoma County to make millions selling the diverted water as far downstream as Sausalito. The negotiations are sure to be a tough sucker.

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ELECTORAL COLLEGE?

Editor

Disclaimer: I graduated from UC Berkeley w/a degree in Political Science in 1965, a tumultuous year. Now I am hearing the drums beat for the elimination of the Electoral College. I disagree: the first thing to go should be the Senate, I mean after all, North Dakota or Wyoming have the same voting power as New York or California or Florida. This is certainly a violation of the one (hu)man, one vote concept. Think about what would happen should the Electoral College be eliminated: the country would be totally controlled by the major metropolitan areas, New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, San Diego, Los Angeles. What part would small places like Denver, the Bay Area, Seattle, Philadelphia, Portland, Cleveland, Madison, Kansas City etc. have? Virtually none. A small number of "mega-cities/metropolises" would rule the United States. Animal welfare based upon PETA, hunting regulations established by inner city majorities, regulations in all areas based upon instant 24/7 internet/smart phone access, totally electricity dependent. Medical care, road systems, water; all tilted to the metropolitan. It is, I believe, still up to the individual states how their votes are counted, most have opted for winner-take-all. How did that happen? 

Am I a paranoid conspiracy buff to think that perhaps the two major political parties agreed to do it that way to protect their turf from 3rd parties? To me, it would be a nightmare to eliminate the Electoral College, one of the last remaining defenses against the tyranny of the majority, of the rural against the urban, of the country as a whole versus the major mega-cities. 

Peter Lit

Fantasyland/Mendocino

PS. I got curious; unless I misplaced a zero, President Trump's proposed border wall, has a price tag of $5400 per foot. Hmmm, interesting.... What do you think Mr. Philbrick? Is this on the up and up? 

2 Responses to "Letters (Feb. 6, 2019)"

  1. Pat Kittle   February 7, 2019 at 5:23 pm

    Peter Lit:

    Regarding the funding of a border wall…

    I’m against a wall for ecological reasons. We can stop the (let’s call it what it is) alien invasion by cutting off ALL welfare to illegals, and getting serious about such enforcement as E-Verify.

    Having said that, the cost of a border wall would be a tiny tiny fraction of the…
    1) ecological cost of endless immigration-fueled population growth…
    2) & 3) monetary & psychological cost of appeasing ever-multiplying immigrant demands.

    Thanks to the virtual monopoly the Israel lobby has on “our” government & “mainstream” media, few Americans realize just how much the Terrorist Theocracy of Israel actually costs us.

    But the fact is, bankrupt America spends $$$ TRILLIONS $$$ fighting utterly criminal wars at the behest of Israel lobby war criminals. As a result, millions of lives are lost & ruined, and Israel steals ever more Arab lands.

    Americans also give Israel $$$ HUNDREDS of BILLIONS $$$ in welfare, even as Israel gloats about its economic & military might. Guess what else Israel does with our money (besides bribing “our” politicians)?

    Israel border walls:
    — [ https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=israel+%22border+walls%22&FORM=HDRSC2 ]

    Reply
  2. George Hollister   February 8, 2019 at 6:51 am

    “The SS&D trio should produce a chart with options for various rates of return assumptions and show exactly how much that would cost the county for each increment of reduction. Then they’d say what county services or expenses could be reduced to cover each amount. Then they’d explain what they think the correct rate of return should be and why they think that.”

    This has been done. It’s a waste of time.

    Reply

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