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Off the Record (April 3, 2019)

FORT BRAGG has a gang prob, difficult as it is to think of that attractive seaside town being troubled by a usually urban phenomenon. Ukiah also has gang trouble but the Ukiah PD has been efficient in suppressing it. There has been a rash of shootings lately in Fort Bragg attributed to organized street mopes, but no reported injuries related to them. The man who should have been Fort Bragg police chief, John Naulty, was especially efficient in keeping gangs in check, bearing down on the ex-cons who do the recruiting. FB Councilman Bernie Norvell said the other night that since January 2018, there have been 54 gang-related incidents, including the two shootings in the last week. 40 of the 54 incidents were for vandalism, mostly tagging. There were 6 injuries, 5 simple assaults and 1 aggravated assault. The aggravated assault report was on a juvenile who was beaten up by a group of punks who aren't much for one-on-one combat. The kid's injuries to his head were severe enough to get him a trip to Coast Emergency. The Ukiah PD seems to have a handle on gangs. Fort Bragg needs to get one.

BACK IN 2016 there was talk of making FB a Sanctuary City, but a formal declaration was never issued and, as I recall, it was the fear of criminals finding a safe harbor that seemed to incline the then-Council to merely "pursue a dialogue" with the aim of Niceness, especially in the present political climate with immigrants being regularly slandered as undesirables.

GANG PUNKS make life miserable for immigrant communities, especially the young people in those communities. If Fort Bragg's gang members are not here legally, they ought to get the heave-ho pronto.

PRESSURE from Coasties has prompted Mendo Mill to stop selling Round-Up, which is a good start because the scientific back-up for its hazard to human health is considerable. But the stuff is sold under lots of different names, and it's only one sinister chemical in wide use in this county, especially by vineyard owners and the warm, wonderful folks at the Mendocino Redwood Company.

RUMOR OF THE WEEK has it that the County is preparing to send out about 200 pot permit denials. Low Gap staff is fearful that things may get ugly and are asking for enhanced law enforcement security in anticipation of trouble. If there is trouble, it shouldn’t surprise anyone considering that the denials are the reward for conscientious people trying to do the right thing by getting legal. But after jumping through all the hoops of an objectively insane process they are being notified that they, their businesses, and maybe even their land remains “illegal.” 

HOW TO KILL THE KIDS: Experts say the anti-vaccine or vaccine choice groups, as they commonly refer to themselves, are becoming larger, better organized and funded in part because their prolific use of social media, as well as the rise of a group founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. which has helped to coordinate their efforts to push back on new laws. “Social media has given it a national presence. It’s no longer just a collection of different states, it’s now gone across the country,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine researcher and pediatrician. “Right now you might call it a media empire—you have almost 500 anti-vaccine websites.”

ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. is fanning the flames of the anti-vaxxer movement with a recent tweet suggesting “neurotoxins” in the HPV vaccine are making American teens mentally ill. Kennedy, an environmental attorney, author, and self-styled anti-vaxx activist asked, “What are we doing to our children? … Shouldn't we ask whether these mental health trends are associated with the neurotoxic aluminum we are giving young teens in Gardasil vaccine?" Kennedy is cited by many anti-vaxxers on this subject as if he's a reputable authority.

MENDOCINO COUNTY is, natch, home to enough anti-vaxxers to represent a public health threat to not only their own children but everyone else's children. How many un-vaccinated children are attending public schools in the county? Not many, it seems, but no precise numbers are available. County Superintendent Michelle Hutchins pointed me to MCOE's helpful website where school admission standards are described:

A parent or guardian must submit a written statement from a licensed physician (MD or DO) which states:

  • That the physical condition or medical circumstances of the child are such that the required immunization(s) is not indicated;
  • Which vaccines are being exempted; 
  • Whether the medical exemption is permanent or temporary;
  • The expiration date, if the exemption is temporary.

AN ON-LINE comment nicely sums up the anti-vaxx movement: “I know an ‘anti Vaxxer’. She is ignorant, but she thinks she is sophisticated. She has no sense of history, and has no idea what life and death were like before medical innovations such as penicillin and the polio vaccine.”

GORDON BLACK ALERTS US: “Not a duty, but if you can do 14 minutes of the young Brit, Paul Joseph Watson, on Infowars (PJW has his own niche), here’s a salient critique of modern culture at “a dead end” in movies, literature…. He argues that it has become “algorithm compliant.” Certainly not so with the AVA.” 

OCASIO-CORTEZ sure has the Fox $200 haircuts scared, while her failed party tries to figure out how to put her back in the box. Every day there's a headline somewhere like this one: "New poll reveals AOC's firebrand style of politics is not popular with voters, with less than a quarter giving her a favorable rating." Not one of the announced candidates has embraced her, and the entrenched dinos of the Pelosi type whimper that AOC "is too far to the left" when her ideas are really only an upgrade of Roosevelt's New Deal.

RELAPSE. Back in 2004-6 when then-CEO Bryan Ballard was the focus of criticism similar to what CEO Edwards recently faced before he was handsomely paid to go away, Coast District Hospital faced similar financial problems. Former senior nurse Louise Mariana and Enrique Sanicky (a retired IBM exec) both pointed out the major problems Coast Hospital was having, including the one with their in-house billing system, which, at that time, was known as the “Meditech” system. The Hospital paid something like $2 million dollars for the Meditech system, after which they hired an expensive consultant to help them implement it, after which they hired another consultant to train their accounting staff to use it.

NOW, here we are almost 15 years later and we read Malcolm Macdonald’s report saying that Coast Hospital has been providing services that “have not been billed for, nor payments collected. In just three months [interim CFO John] Parigi's small team found over $3 million from previously languishing accounts. The fault for this lies not on any specific employees in the billing and finance departments, but on the fact that the hospital has been operating for years on a three-way, jury-rigged electronic system. Thus, coding for a specific patient's charges and the subsequent billing had to go through multiple, yet different, types of computer systems. Therefore, the chances for misplacing or losing charges or the entire bill were exponentially exaggerated at all times.” WTF? 

INSTEAD of arguing about affiliation and “governance,” the Board should give up on doing billing in-house and insist that two things happen: farm out all billing to a professional billing service and require that a special billing review group be set up to go over all bills EVERY MONTH in a carefully arranged and clear billing report, thus dealing with problems as they arise. The outside firm should be contracted with a provision that they don’t get their billing service charge until the bill is verified by the Hospital and actually paid. 

THIS WON'T HAPPEN of course because the Hospital is stuck in a failed billing system that they can’t extricate themselves from and which they don’t seem to know how to begin to fix. But without fixing it, Coast Hospital's chronic dance with bankruptcy will go on and on until it doesn't. (Mark Scaramella)

THE COASTAL COMMISSION'S Northcoast seat is vacant. The Governor rejected the HumCo candidates as well as Fort Bragg's Lindy Peters. Eyeballing the Mendo stretch of the California coast I'd say the Commission is not doing a good job protecting the Coastal Zone, or protecting it much at all given the number of over-large houses of the Dentist Complex School of Architectural Design we now see fouling ocean vistas from the ghastly Sea Ranch north to Westport. I remember when Mark Massera of the Surfriders Foundation was a commissioner, and I remember him going to the mat with those commissioners whose idea of wild and scenic is Newport Beach. The only name I recognize these days is Aaron Peskin, the San Francisco supervisor and, as an ava reader, obviously a man of major league discernment likely to oppose projects harmful to the Coast. Donne Brownsey represents all three Northcoast counties. She confirms that she is now resident of Fort Bragg where the hottest issue facing her is probably the development of the old mill site. 

THE LEAD PIECE in the April 4th edition of the New York Review of Books is called "A Future Without Fossil Fuels?" We live in hope, as does the author, Bill McKibben, whose review of one book and one scientific paper both of which suggest the big boys of finance capital are moving their money to renewables because renewables are more lucrative, or becoming more lucrative, than fossil fuels and coal. India, for example, can now provide wind and solar much cheaper than the fuels choking its cities in smogs worse than LA's. India is a vast market for the new power-generating technologies.

ACCORDING to McKibben, the energy future looks like this: "Over the last decade, there has been a staggering fall in the price of solar and wind power, and of the lithium-ion batteries used to store energy. This has led to rapid expansion of these technologies, even though they are still used much less than fossil fuels: in 2017, for instance, sun and wind produced just 6 percent of the world's electric supply, but they made of 45 percent of the growth in supply, and the cost of sun and wind power continues to fall by 20 percent with each doubling of the next few years, they will represent all the growth. We will then reach peak use of fossil fuels, not because we're running out of them but because renewables will have become so cheap that anyone needing a new energy supply will likely turn to solar or wind power…"


[1] The longer it takes for the old to die the harder it is for the new to be born. Russia was kept by force in its medieval state for far too long, the result being the Bolshevik revolution, Stalin’s enforced industrialization, the incarceration and deaths of millions. China’s road out of the old and into the new was even more bloody and disastrous. Germany took an excursion through sheer lunacy and decades of foreign occupation. The same with Japan plus two nukes. The UK with its farcical Brexit cock-ups is suffering the debility and imbecility of a clown aristocracy long past its discard date. 

What I’m getting at is what people have said about the Democrats and Republicans, and what Taibbi was saying about the media. Time’s up, time to go, time for something new and better and more suited to the times and cognizant of what’s under their noses. We see the example of history, of change not coming when it’s needed. These are self-evidently arrangements without a future. What replaces them? 

I would argue that the Republicans are further along the curve even given that it was a buffoon developer/multiple bankrupt that made them smell the coffee. All Trump did was to state the obvious, what was the plain and simple truth about the state of large swathes of the country, its finances, its calamitous conduct in the foreign realm. In short, the austere Paul Ryan and his Republican ideology of foreign war and more for the rich and destitution for everyone else is revealed for what it is, an insult to the American citizen and reason and common sense. 

For the Democrats, what will it be? Dissolution or institutional change? If it’s change will it just be a different road and way-station to history’s garbage barge? 

That the American – cough – intelligentsia resisted and are still resisting reality belies their alleged intelligence and – cough, cough – expertise. If these are the “experts” I’ll take the amateurs thanks. But that’s beside the point. Or maybe that IS the point. Out with the experts. Theirs is no expertise worth having. 

The question now is how to do the job. Will it be a civilized process, thanks for your service, here’s your gold watch, have a nice retirement? Or will it be otherwise?

[2] There’s an old saying that by the time a guy is thirty, he should have spent one night in a monastery, one night in a whorehouse and one night in jail. 

But if you can achieve some take on reality not available through other means, i.e. some degree of knowledge or enlightenment, more power to you. Many tried, most failed, most just get bored trying and wander off. Finding something on the road to Damascus is a rare thing. You’ll know you’ve found it when you realize you’ve been previously looking at the world as though through a glass darkly.

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