Off the Record (March 20, 2019)

CEO CARMEL ANGELO shocked the Board of Supervisors last week with a surprise mention — not in her CEO report — that the County’s pot permit program was about $2.4 million (!) in the red. The CEO said the figure is based on preliminary numbers to be finalized at the “mid-year” (?) budget review on March 26 only three months after the “mid-year.” She also said that the Probation Department was running about $1.6 million over budget despite the budget nicks made in Probation last year. The Sheriff’s overtime budget is also being grossly overrun, and that’s just three obvious big ticket budget problems.

THE BOARD and the CEO blamed everyone but themselves for the pot revenue shortfall — the state, the growers, the changing landscape, staff turnover (that the CEO and the Board caused), and so on, although supervisors Williams and Haschak inherited the mess with their recent election and can’t be responsible for their incompetent predecessors. We have pointed out all three of these overruns before, so it's no surprise on our end, and it shouldn't surprise Ms. Angelo and the two hold-over supervisors, McCowen and Brown since each has been discussed well before now. 

NOT DISCUSSED, however, was why it took so long to discover such a huge deficit in the pot permit program. Recall that when the Probation Department was way over budget last year, the CEO didn’t know about it until Lake County sent her a note saying that they didn’t want to continue to pay Mendo’s exorbitant day-rates for probationers. The CEO was caught by surprise. 

AND NOW there’s a much bigger deficit — one which has been obvious to even the most casual observers for months. The bloated and basically unmanaged pot permit program staffing, complete with shiny new vehicles for inspectors and compliance officers with no hope of cost recovery from the outset because actual issuances of pot permits was, of course way off because of the burdensome process, a process a majority of growers are ignoring and the rest struggling with. (Mark Scaramella) 

NOT TO BE TOO judgmental here, but Mendo is a good example of people running government who do not spend public money as cautiously as they do their own. County bureaucracy is bloated and overpaid at the top while line worker vacancies go unfilled (putting lots more work on existing employees), the same workers who have been promised raises they are obviously not going to get. As is becoming clearer by the month.

THIS HEADLINE from the Ukiah Daily Journal: “Mendocino County Appointments Approved; Proposal to Change Willits Museum Hours Rejected.” 

A HEDDER describing what actually happened at the meeting might be: (1) “Mental Health Insiders Praise Selves At Great Length For No Reason At All. (2) Pot Program Blows Up in Supes Face, Which They Solve By Suggesting A Trip to Sacto.“

OTHER MATTERS addressed last week can be summed up as “Supes to Spend Another $100k on Bogus Employee Lawsuit.” Tradition requires the hiring of an outside attorney to handle matters deemed too difficult for the County’s ten lawyers. The outside attorney, after raking off a hundred grand for doing an hour or so working out a payoff with the alleged victim, will charge the County another thirty thou or so for foot massages across the street from the County Courthouse. Seriously, though, why does this County annually spend a literal fortune on outside attorneys and consultants?

PS. The Museum hours change proposal was not “rejected,” it was simply sent back to the Museum Advisory Board. (Mark Scaramella)

TRUMP, expert on all matters, said he knew why the planes crashed in Ethiopia and Indonesia: “Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better. Split second decisions needed, and the complexity creates danger. All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!”

AS A GUY who can barely figure out how to use the remote for his TV set, I think Orange Man makes a valid point here. Lots of stuff is over-engineered, sadistically over-engineered for us older folks.

LAST TUESDAY'S MEETING of the Supervisors was viewed at any one time by a max of 28 persons, and they dropped off as soon as the pension fund "discussion" ended. From there on an average of 18 people were watching their local government in action. The live audience seemed confined to a few stalwart pot soldiers who inevitably thank the Supervisors and staff "for all your hard work." Hard work? In doing what? Complicating your lives unto bankruptcy?

I'LL BET if you asked the next twenty people walking past the County Courthouse to define anti-Semitism they'd be at a loss. Call me Mr. Optimism but it's my impression that anti-Semitism is not nearly as prevalent as it once was, thanks to the public schools. Used to be you had to be able to read well enough to master the crank lit to persuade yourself that Jews rule the world via a kind of secret cabal. They also control all the money systems, they're smarter than everyone else, they own show biz and the media, and so on. Jews are influential in show biz and media but hardly dominate it, and as for smarter than everyone else? If that's true, how do you account for the Jews of Mendocino County? Mr. Optimism also thinks it's obvious that race relations in our zany country are actually quite good considering the 1950's where I come from. Any town or city of any size anywhere in America, even Ukiah, and you now find an actual prevalence of genuinely affectionate and loyal inter-racial friendships, not to mention marriages.

WE KEEP INMATE phone calls to a minimum because if we didn't we couldn't pay the phone bill we barely pay now. But today, when a guy tried to call I'd asked to call, the automated shakedown artists who run a lot of inmate "services" demanded that I sign up for a pre-paid package via a credit card. Natch, this outfit takes an extortionate whack of each call. Not that ripping off inmates and their families for phone calls is anything new, but now the call recipient has no option but to sign up for their usurious services. Used to be you could simply agree to accept the call. No more.

APPLAUSE FOR TRUMPETTE Kellyanne Conway for best line on the college admissions scandal: “They worried their daughters are as stupid as their mothers.”

INSIDER HIRING has always been a fact of life in Mendocino. Here's one recent example: Sarah Dukett is Deputy CEO. Megan Dukett, as of last October, is "program administrator" at the County Museum, and you can be excused if you were unaware the county has a museum, but a gold star for you if you not only were aware of the museum but had visited it. To be fair and balanced about it, the museum seems to be slowly rousing itself from its historic (sic), anonymous slumber. The little nepotistic nesters stuck away in Willits are currently putting together an exhibit called something like "Mendocino County's Contribution to World War One," which might actually be of general interest to the minority of citizens still able to focus longer than five seconds. Had to laugh last week when the museum boss told the Supes that only four people had visited the County Museum on the previous Sunday, so, like, why not close Sundays? Translation: We don't wanna work weekends. The museum claims 4,000 visitors a year. I've visited three times over the last five years in good weather and I was the only person on the premises apart from a couple of ladies who seemed to be employed there. Anyway, I've always thought the County Museum, the Held-Poage Museum, the Grace Hudson Museum, and all the old County Courthouse records a'mouldering in the Courthouse basement — a HUGE trove of true history — should be put under one roof. Mendo County would pack 'em in. As is, well....

KUDOS and karnations to Governor Newsom for putting California's death penalty on hold. A lot of the boys on Death Row will be much more likely anyway to be knocked off in general population than safely locked away for their endless waits for the Midnight Nighty-Night Needle, and thus, perhaps, sating somewhat the public's blood lust for revenge.

AS NEWSOM declared, the death penalty doesn't deter anybody from murder, which is a statistical fact, as is the stat fact that ethnic minorities are much more likely to get a death penalty sentence than a white monster. (Scott Peterson is middleclass; pretty sure the other white boys on Death Row derive from the doomed social class.)

DON'T GET ME WRONG. This here lib-lab would have no qualms about delivering Scott Peterson a quick bullet to the back of his evil head, but here's the prob with the death penalty, apart from its class and race bias: (1) it gives government the right to kill citizens which, in the turbulent times ahead, just might result in executions of political dissidents and the socially undesirable, especially if we get the fascism so many right-wingers yearn for (2) executing people in the middle of the night via problematic drugs does not serve as an example of deterrence to the society it allegedly protects. To be any kind of more or less likely deterrent we need public executions — I suggest half-time at pro football games and Pay Per View to raise money for victim's families (3) And whether or not this or that psychopath should be put to death must be the decision of the victim's immediate family, one of whom would have to deliver the coup de grace, and no torture allowed to prevent executions from becoming as grisly as the original crime. Newsom has just saved Golden State taxpayers a ton of public money by eliminating, at least for now, imposition of the death penalty. Putting these guys away permanently without killing them is a lot cheaper, and in the present social context nothing is likely to slow down the murder rate.

I CLIPPED the following from somewhere I can't now remember: "Scott’s (Peterson) social life allegedly hasn’t been affected by being locked up. Journalist Nancy Mullane was given access to the maximum security prison, San Quentin State Prison, where Scott is being held. She said he’s living in an “Exclusive” part of the prison, where he has his own cell and can socialize with other prisoners, as opposed to some prisoners who have to spend 23 hours a day in their cells. He also allegedly has access to a roof deck with a basketball court, and Mullane said, “When I saw Scott, he was playing basketball. He didn’t look depressed. He looked like someone you’d see on the street playing basketball.” Scott is apparently classed as a “Grade A” prisoner, who gets 5 hours a day social time, access to exercise and chess and three showers a week. These prisoners are also able to attend religious services, receive mail, phone calls and visitors, as well as having a private TV in their cells (although they must pay for it themselves)."

$500,000 to get your little dummy into USC? An "elite" school? Ahem. Any parent who has been through the admissions process, and I've been through it three times, knows it's bogus, having more to do with lib notions of diverse student bodies, daddy's willingness to cough up big financial donations, daddy or mommy's fame and so on, as in, for example, any kid out of a rural Mendocino County high school (except perhaps the more up market Mendo High School has a better shot at an “elite” college than a rich kid from an expensive private school. A graduate of a rural high school who can read and write well has a better chance of being admitted to, say, Stanford, than a real smart rich kid from one of the Bay Area's many private schools, rich people having abandoned the public system fifty years ago. Why? Because the fully qualified rural kid is rare and the fully qualified rich kid is a dime a Dusenberg. And a Chinese kid from any private or public school can be the next Yo Yo Ma and still not get into the so-called elite schools because of the Tiger Mom syndrome, meaning there are now so many eminently qualified Asian students who are not only twice as prepared for higher study in our otherwise lazy ass, overly indulgent, botoxed society that the so-called elite schools are putting in a lot of overtime figuring out new ways to keep Asian kids out, much as they used to do with Jewish kids. If a Native American kid aced his or her SAT's the "elite" schools would be flying chartered luxury jets into Covelo to whisk him or her off to Palo Alto or Cambridge. Ditto for white kids raised in tweaker trailers, or Mexican kids from immigrant families. Black kids generally remain screwed. Rich kids from expensive private schools actually have a tougher time with the admissions process these days because, like ultra-qualified Asian kids, there are so many of them. Reality? It's all bullshit. Your kid, on the off chance he or she has genuine intellectual interests, can get a quality education at any of the state colleges. Or going to work and reading on his or her own.

DEMO PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE BETO O'ROURKE: "If you think 300,000 immigrants and asylum-seekers apprehended on the southern border is a problem – and I don't necessarily think that it is, the kind of migration and refugee flows that we will see when entire bands of this world are no longer habitable will be a crisis of a different magnitude altogether. We face catastrophe and crisis on this planet even if we were to stop emitting carbon today right now at this moment."

THE CURRENT IMMIGRATION FEARS of the political right remind me of that early fascist best seller called "The Camp of the Saints" by a Frenchman called Revel, whose premise was that immigrants would destroy Western Civ, the European branch anyway, hence the subsequent re-emergence of European fascism pegged to fear of Muslim immigration. Beto, mainline lib that he is, can't just say our border "crisis" is a Trumpian hoax, because then he might have to explain his own plans for orderly immigration, which he probably doesn't have. From what I can gather from my Boonville command center it is a fact that millions of the world’s desperate are on the move north because of environmental and social disaster, and that the number of rolling, unaddressed catastrophes is intensifying, but given the scale of them and the quality of contemporary leadership, well, stockpile rice and ammo, grandkids, you'll for sure reap all manner of whirlwinds.

DESPITE RIGHTWING CLAIMS that us libs want “open borders,” all of the libs I know, and I daresay most libs everywhere in the country, want an orderly, controlled immigration policy like every other country in the world has.

ALAN 'THE KID' FLORA has been named Clearlake's city manager. Some of you will recall that the baby-faced bureaucrat functioned as an assistant CEO for Mendocino County until one bleak Friday morning when he was told to immediately turn over his keys and perp-walked out to the parking lot. No notice, no reason, just "Yer outta here, buddy boy." I've always assumed that Flora's Mendo execution had more to do with the fact that he's smart, capable and, dare I say it, male. We may live in a theoretical democracy but most of us endure in tyrannical circumstances, especially, it seems, in "progressive" Mendocino County. 

INTERESTING COMMENT by Debra Keipp: "During WWII my grandfather was required (I don’t know if he was paid for it) to grow half of our 400 acres in hemp grade marijuana for the war effort. So, most of our crop land was planted with hemp for ropes for the war ships. Hemp rope floats in the water. It took most of our crop land at the time, so they may have subsidized g-pa somehow. Years later when visiting the farm, I walked through the area where the seeders were filled before taken to the field for planting, and there was a strange smell of marijuana underfoot. I looked down and there was a strange broad leaf type of marijuana plant growing under foot. Immediately when it came up out of the ground, it formed a broad leaf on the stem that was different from smokeable pot. We had a lot of cows and horses. The horses would walk along the gravel roads until they spotted a hemp plant in the ditch and head for the ditch to pull it out. Hemp is strong and fibrous, so the plant always pulled out of the ground from the root when the horses pulled on it to chew. So, we’d walk down the road with the horse chewing on and dragging an entire hemp plant along while he chewed on it. All I can say is he must have had a bad headache! They sure loved it, tho. Hemp still grows in much of Iowa today. That’s where the farm was."

THE CLOVERDALE FIGHT CLUB SCANDAL is interesting, doubly interesting because the police say a high school teacher refereed the fights in his classroom (!) The AVA theory to keen teen troubles in our wacky and probably doomed country holds that the troubles arise out of the separation of adolescents into their own sub-species, a separation that leads to all kinds of neurotic behavior in them and us. Ever notice the diff between kids in the public school system and home schooled kids? The home-schooled kids are much less estranged from adults, much more mature, much more natural and wholesomely integrated into the wider society. Not in all cases, of course, but so long as the home schooling parents are more or less sane the home schooled are likely to be much more together than children moving through the public systems. 

CASE IN POINT, which I've invoked for years now: I'm at a Boonville High School basketball game. The home towners take the court for warm-ups to a high decibel ditty about bitches, bawds and bloodshed. So I, Mr. Concerned Parent, approach the principal to complain about the general inappropriateness of the "music." The principal says, "But the kids like it." There you are, the root cause of much trouble with unhealthy teenage behavior. "But the kids like it."

SEEMS there was recently much cyber-turmoil inspired by an old video of Maya Angelou that it was noted in the SF Chron. To a teenaged girl who greeted the late Angelou by her first name, Angelou replied, "Thank you, and first, I'm Ms. Angelou. I'm not Maya. I'm 62 years old. I have lived so long and tried so hard that a young woman like you, or any other, have no license to come up to me and call me by my first name. That's first. Also, because at the same time, I'm your mother, I'm your auntie, I'm your teacher, I'm your professor. See?"

JUST READING ANGELOU’S comment, I thought to myself, good for her. She's absolutely correct pointing out that given her years she's entitled to the respect of proper address.

BUT THE COMMENT LINES lit up with denunciations of Angelou’s "arrogance"! And those comments that I saw failed to point out that Angelo, in the same encounter, graciously apologized to the girl for what might have seemed to the untutored kid like rudeness.

I CAN'T REMEMBER the last time a young person addressed me as "Mr. Anderson," and I'm damn near 80. Just the other day, a high school kid approached me. "You, Bruce?" No, punk, I'm his great grandfather. 

OF COURSE I didn't say that. After all, we live in a Youth Must Be Served society, but when did young people stop being taught basic manners, one of which is basic forms of respectful address? Not a big deal? Hierarchical bourgeois relic? I'd say no, more like the simple, basic deference that smooths social intercourse. 

LONE NUTS aren't lonely anymore. My mother told me a story about an aggrieved man in her hometown when she was in high school during The Depression. Nobody knew what his grievance was, but he was an old coal miner so he probably had some legitimate ones. He'd say things like, "One of these days I'm going blow up this whole goddamed town." And one day he did. Or about half of it anyway. Miraculously, he was the only one killed, although a number of people were harmed. Turned out the old boy had stockpiled dynamite until he figured he had enough, then ka-boom! Fast forward to 2019, and thanks to the internet, the lone nuts have whole communities.

PRESIDENT TRUMP, a twitter comment quickly erased from his cyber-feed after the slaughter in New Zealand: "It's so terrible what's happening. You know, the left plays a tougher game, it's very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don't play it tougher. OK? I can tell you, I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump — I have the tough people, but they don't play it tough until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad. But the left plays it cuter and tougher."

THE WASHINGTON POST'S David Nakamura pointed out, this is actually quite similar to something Trump said at a September campaign rally: "They're so lucky that we're peaceful. Law enforcement, military, construction workers, Bikers for Trump — how about Bikers for Trump? They travel all over the country. They got Trump all over the place, and they're great. They've been great. But these are tough people. These are great people. But they're peaceful people, and Antifa and all — they'd better hope they stay that way. I hope they stay that way. I hope they stay that way."

TRUMP is like a lot of non-tough blowhards in that he doesn't know the diff between tough and vicious; and even his idea of tough is way off. Ten fat bikers beating another fat biker with pool cues? Trump's "bone spurs" conveniently kept him from keeping company with real tough guys during Vietnam, and “tough” needs precise definition beyond windy fascist fantasies about a diabetic uprising. Gotta give it to Orange Man though, he's mobilized the neo-Reich for sure. The drift of events just might give us all much more violence than any rational person wants.

STEVE GILL WRITES: “Remembering your articles in the early 90s on the Mitchell brothers way back when. Did you know at one time a lot of their workers and other sex workers in SF were Rajneesh devotees? I lived there then, but had no idea: "For a long time, Rajneesh women predominated in the escort services in San Francisco and among strippers at the well-known Mitchell Brothers O’Farrell Street Theatre in San Francisco, but after operations got going at the ranch in Oregon, Rajneesh summoned all of them to Central Oregon. Bill Driver, the investigative reporter with whom I worked on several Oregon Magazine features about the cult, received a tip from a law enforcement source that the man the FBI considered to be the major cocaine dealer in the United States was observed leaving the ranch on Rajneesh’s last day there, but Bill was unable to confirm the information…" 

A WILLITS READER WRITES: "Your recent items re the Colvig matter: Chris Neary isn’t on the Willits school board anymore. He didn’t win re-election last year. In fact, he came in last, and quite a bit 'last.' Neary didn’t even come to the last couple of school board meetings after losing that election, no doubt it was quite the blow. I don’t think that was a comment on his performance on the school board, I think it was because many people in Willits and in Brooktrails blame Neary for the conflict between the City of Willits and Brooktrails Township over paying for the sewer plant, which fattened Neary’s coffers quite a bit. Remember the story about 'once they had a meeting without the lawyers, they worked it out'? And Neary’s involvement in the Woodhouse campaign didn’t end up doing any good at all for Willits…”

ON LINE COMMENT OF THE WEEK

When I was in California, I used to grab lunch at the Mexican restaurants where they give you a choice of meats for your tacos, enchiladas, etc. My favorite meat is mutton or goat. Accordingly, to communicate with the Mexican women cooking the food, I tried to memorize some of the Mexican words on the menu posted on the wall of the restaurant. In one Mexican restaurant, the Mexican word for goat posted on the wall menu was “Chiva,” so I memorized this word. (Literally, “Chiva” means a female goat.) And henceforth every time I went into a Mexican restaurant to order I’d always ask for “Chiva,” but I would always get a very strange reaction from the Mexicans in the restaurant who would eventually correct me and tell me that I really wanted to order “Birria.” This dance went on for a long time. Only recently in my readings did I discover that the word “Chiva” is the slang and code word for Mexican Black Tar heroin!

2 Responses to "Off the Record (March 20, 2019)"

  1. George Hollister   March 20, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    I don’t know if someone is Jewish from squat, unless they tell me, but this line made me laugh:

    “Jews are influential in show biz and media but hardly dominate it, and as for smarter than everyone else? If that’s true, how do you account for the Jews of Mendocino County?”

    Reply
  2. Michael Koepf   March 21, 2019 at 8:56 am

    “Newsom has just saved Golden State taxpayers a ton of public money by eliminating, at least for now, imposition of the death penalty.”

    The heightened security practices mandated for death row inmates added $100,663 to the cost of incarcerating each capital prisoner last year, for a total of $72 million. (Death Penalty Information Center.)

    Reply

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