Off The Record
by AVA News Service, March 9, 2011
DA EYSTER is off to a great start. Prosecution policies are already a lot more sensible than they were under Meredith Lintott, who seemed to drag everyone into court who happened to get written up by a cop. Do we really need to prosecute young women who slap their boy friends? Or pot trimmers? Or any number of incompetents wandering the County simply unable to cope with the confusions of modern life? Eyster is focusing on real crooks, not the hopeless mopes who should be sequestered for their own safety and welfare.
PROBABLY NOT SUPPOSED to know this, but the new DA is in hot pursuit of chiseling Supervisor Kendall Smith, and even if he can't get her to cough up the money she ripped off from local taxpayers even Mendolib is likely to applaud his efforts, putting DA Eyster's overall public approval rating at about 99%.
KC MEADOWS of the Ukiah Daily Journal was editorially skeptical about the supervisor's workload. Supervisors Brown and Pinches, protesting wayyyyyy too much, promptly sent the paper their schedules for a week, confirming that they indeed are well paid to, ah, go to meetings. However hard they work, supervising isn't quite coal mining, is it?
IN A REPORT by the always acute Willits News reporter Linda Williams about the constantly-sliding “Ridgewood grade” segment of Highway 101 south of Willits, Ms. Williams notes that “The blue clay Franciscan-type soils along the Ridgewood grade are very unstable, resembling a ‘blue goo,’ [Caltrans District Director Phil] Frisbie explained. These soil conditions have been a challenge for road and railroad builders all along the North Coast range, and will likely provide future challenges for CalTrans.”
THIS PERPETUALLY FLUID section of 101 between Ukiah and Willits, aka Nowhere to Zilch, has for years represented a kind of full employment program for Caltrans and Big Orange's local sub-contractors and, to the benefit of all, just keeps on slip sliding away.
SUPPORTERS OF THE MYTHICAL Willits Bypass seem to think that somehow they will be immune from the blue clay slip-slide, on which the fantasists say they intend to erect a stable elevated viaduct on concrete pedestals.
A READER WRITES: “Sound familiar?” 'We meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political and material ruin.... Corruption dominates the ballot box, the [state] legislatures and the Congress and touches even the bench...The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled, public opinion silenced.... The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few.'”
LAST WEEK, KZYX news reader Paul Hanson was talking to College of the Redwoods trustee Barbara Rice about the recent departure of Eureka-based College of the Redwoods President Jeff Marsee, the most recent of a long line of college prexies to annoy their faculties in Eureka and at COR's Fort Bragg campus. After the usual lob ball preliminaries in a voice suggestive of a massage parlor, Hanson asked Rice, “Do you think there needs to be some healing at the college?” The Major leaped from his workstation, shouting, “Did you hear that? Paul Hanson just said healing in an un-ironic context. Are we gonna take that?” Who are you going to appeal to in Mendocino County? I reminded The Maj. There's no stopping them, and here they come now, up the stairs and in through the windows, the warm fuzzies and fuzzy warms, psychos and killers every one of them.
OCEAN PROTECTION Coalition presents Whale Fest 2011at Fort Bragg Town Hall, corner of Main and Laurel noon to 4pm Sunday, March 20. Speakers from California Gray Whale Coalition, National Resources Defense Council, and Whale Song Hawaii will talk about the impact of ocean noise, especially Navy Sonar, on whales. Dan Hamburg, 5th District Supervisor, will also speak. Music, films, children's whale art, a raffle with great prizes, and refreshments. For more information call 964-3621. (— Zac Zachary)
MAN BEATER of the week: Ms. Judy Morris of Ukiah, called in by El Wimpo because Ms. Morris punched him one. Hit him harder next time, Judy. What the hey, if he's going to cry to the cops give him something to cry about.
SENIOR WARRIOR of the week honors go to Glen Glass, 81, of Ukiah. Ol' Glen took a swing at someone, and it wasn't Mrs. Glass, but look at it this way: If you're still combative at 81 shouldn't you get a medal from the cops? Not in Ukiah. Glen was hauled out to Low Gap and booked for battery.
CALIFORNIA'S GOVERNOR BROWN, just like the governor of Wisconsin and almost everyone else in elected government these days, says there's no money, that unions and collective bargaining is the problem, that education and all the rest of our public amenities have to be either eliminated or cut. Our craven media report this huge, bi-partisan lie as most Americans wonder why if there's no money we can fund two wars and fork over billions to crooked bankers. The next time you hear someone say there's no money, you tell them they're either lying or they don't know that:
The extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, enacted by a Democratic-controlled Congress in December with the approval of the Obama administration, pumps $700 billion over the next ten years into the pockets of the rich. Reclaiming two years of that tax windfall would eliminate all the state budget deficits combined.
Total compensation at Wall Street banks and securities firms last year hit a record $135 billion, according to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal, an all-time-high revenue of $417 billion. The recipients of the Wall Street bailout could bail out the states out of their own pockets.
The 400 richest individuals in the United States dispose of a staggering $1.37 trillion in assets, an average of nearly $350 million each. A levy of 10 percent on the resources of these billionaires would also erase the deficits of all 50 states.
Combined profits for all American corporations rocketed upwards in 2010, hitting an annual rate of $1.66 trillion in the third quarter. A tax of eight percent on those profits—the same percentage as the cut Governor Walker of Wisconsin seeks to impose on schoolteachers and park rangers—would eliminate all state deficits.
US corporations are currently sitting on $2 trillion in cash, refusing to hire workers despite collecting tax cuts that are supposed to be incentives to do so. A levy of 10 percent on that idle cash would provide enough money to eliminate not only the deficits of the states, but the deficits of all cities and local governments too, as well as preserving the jobs of hundreds of thousands of public employees.
Hedge funds assets rose to $1.92 trillion in 2010, the highest ever, up from $1.18 trillion at the beginning of the year. Given a standard earnings formula of 2 percent of total assets plus 20 percent of the increase, hedge fund bosses stood to collect roughly $186 billion in personal income. An 80 percent tax on that income—less than the percentage rate on multimillionaires levied under the Eisenhower administration—would produce more than enough revenue to put all 50 states in the black. It should be pointed out that the top hedge fund manager, John Paulson, had a personal net profit of more than $5 billion in 2010, while more than a dozen hedge fund bosses had personal incomes above $2 billion and many more took in over $1 billion. (Brought to you as a public service by World Socialists and the Anderson Valley Advertiser.)
THE BOARD of Supervisors reported out of closed session at its last meeting that it has reached a tentative agreement with the Probation Employees for a 12.5% permanent salary reduction. The agreement will run through June 30, 2012. Probation, along with SEIU and the Public Attorney's (DA, Public Defender, Child Support) are the last holdouts in coming to agreement. The employees and the County administration have been blaming each other for the extended negotiations.
IT’S BECOMING more and more clear that delaying negotiations is not the best tactic in these economic times. As each week goes by the County finds that it’s in worse and worse financial shape and management is increasingly reluctant to negotiate the 10% reduction the other unions have taken. Now we see that the Probation employees settled for a 12.5% reduction. The three unions that haven't settled better take what they can get now because they certainly aren't likely to get whacked less than 12.5%.
DEPARTMENT of unintentional hilarity, this opening line of a recent letter to the Ukiah paper from Robin Sunbeam: “I am getting very discouraged in my effort to bring America to its senses.” Aren't we all?
GOVERNOR BROWN has apparently pulled the plug on former Governor Schwarzenegger's North Coast appointee to the Coastal Commission. Governor Schwarzenegger had appointed a Fortuna City Councilman to the at-will position just before stepping down. Expect Supervisor Kendall Smith to renew her efforts to secure the appointment. The job doesn't pay much, but with meetings that last three to five days, there will be ample opportunity to run up an impressive expense tab at taxpayer expense, a Smith specialty.
TOOLING PAST MENDOCINO on my way to Fort Bragg last week, I was alarmed at the sight of what appeared to be major construction underway at Mendocino's little gem of a ballpark. Was the ballpark being destroyed? I wrote to Jim Hurst of the Coast Rec District for an explanation, which he graciously provided: “Friendship Park is Mendocino Unified School District Property. The Friends of Friendship Park disbanded several years ago and MUSD asked the Mendocino Coast Recreation and Park District to assume responsibility for renting and maintaining Friendship Park. This was informally done until June 2010 when a 10 year lease was signed between MCRPD and MUSD for the property commonly known as the Mendocino Community and Recreation Center and included Friendship Park. Prior to MCRPD having responsibility for FP the Mendocino Little League and the Coast Youth Soccer Leagues rented the park during their respective seasons for $1,000 each. In addition MCRPD raised funds that were earmarked specifically for FP and spent between $8,000 and $10,000 a year to maintain the field, bleachers, etc. Very little other rental income is received by MCRPD from the field as the lease agreement requires the free use of the field one a year by the MUSE fund raising organization. The Mendocino Little League has merged (?) his year with the Fort Bragg Little League. FBLL does not have the funds to rent the field this year so MCRPD is letting them use the field in exchange for care and maintenance. The same opportunity will be provided to the Soccer league during their season. A list of maintenance needs was provided to FBLL and they will organize “work parties” to scrap, sand and paint bleachers, refurbish the warning track, repair fences, etc. It is actually a good deal for MCRPD and FBLL and we want to see children using the field. Please let me or Peg Levy-Brown know if you need more information or have additional questions. Peg is the Director of the Mendocino Community and Recreation Center.”
FOR $6,450, give or take a few bucks, and agreement to comply with about 20 conditions required by Mendocino County Code 931, Sheriff Tom Allman will provide a permit and a sort of crop insurance for 99 plant marijuana gardens, a virtual guarantee that local law enforcement will not chop down the plants and haul the grower to jail. (The feds, of course, remain zero tolerance.) Allman and Supervisor John McCowen think the program has the potential to balance the County budget. Only 18 applicants came forward last year. With market glut and per pound prices sinking like a rock it seems doubtful the permits will generate significant revenue.
PEBBLES TRIPPET, the Charlton Heston of Weed — “You'll have to crowbar this roach from my cold dead hand, you bastards!” — has been relentless in opposing any attempt at marijuana regulation, especially Mendocino County Ordinance 9.31 which authorizes the 99 plant permit program. Pebs recently launched another broadside against 9.3 claiming it was being abandoned by Tim Blake, the North County marijuana impresario who presides over the annual Emerald Cup marijuana tasting event at Area 101 north of Laytonville. Blake had been an early and vocal supporter of the 9.31 permit program. Pebs also claimed that Chris Van Hook, another early supporter of the program, and one of the third party inspectors authorized by the ordinance, would no longer be part of it.
VAN HOOK has acknowledged that he had some concerns with the way the program is being administered, but that he was confident they would be worked out, adding that he remained “a steadfast supporter of the 9.31 program.” Van Hook says he works “in many counties around the state on medical cannabis issues and the 9.31 program here in Mendocino County is — by far — the most honest and progressive program” he is aware of. Blake is reported to have let Pebs know that she is not authorized to speak for him and if he has something to say, he will say it himself.
SUPERVISOR McCOWEN, point man on the 9.31 ordinance, fired off an email of his own to defend the program. McCowen survived a year long mauling by the pot brigades as he guided 9.31 through a contentious committee process prior to approval by the Board of Supervisors. In his email McCowen responds to charges by Pebs that the program is not voluntary, that it strips applicants of their right to trial by jury and freedom from warrantless searches.
McCOWEN makes the point that no one is required to purchase the Sheriff's zip-ties (to be attached to “legal” marijuana plants) unless they also want to sign up for the 99 plant permit program. He points out that anyone can grow up to 25 plants per parcel without a zip-tie or a permit if they have the necessary doctor's authorization.
IN HIS EMAIL, McCowen answers the charge about warrantless searches by asserting that every inspection “has been scheduled in advance by mutual agreement of the applicant and the inspector.” He wryly notes that “working in an atmosphere of mutual trust may be a new experience for some, but so far it seems to be working out well.” The unspoken inference is that paranoia remains one of the leading clinical effects of marijuana use. Most of the grower types have a hard time visualizing a deputy in their garden, even if the deputy is armed with a clipboard instead of a machete.
ONE OF THE more unhinged complaints about the 9.31 program is that applicants forfeit their right to trial by jury. That is because the 9.31 program is subject to civil, not criminal enforcement. Thus, the applicants also give up their right to be arrested and incarcerated. All in all, it’s not a bad trade off. Instead of losing their plants and going to jail, the growers keep their plants, skip jail and pay the Sheriff about a quarter the amount they would pay a criminal defense attorney.
RICHARD KRUSE, 67, of Albion, will be back in court March 16th to answer charges that his girl's water ski club at Lake Mendocino provided Kruse access to underage girls, Kruse using that access to sexually molest club members. Kruse's preliminary hearing has been put off a couple of times because Kruse's attorney failed to appear. He has entered a plea of not guilty.
THE UKIAH VALLEY Area Plan, aka “the UVAP,” the all-time zombie of planning documents, is scheduled for a joint meeting between the Board of Supervisors and the County Planning Commission on Tuesday, March 15th at 6pm at the County Admin Center. The UVAP first staggered to life in 1990, was approved by the City of Ukiah in 1995 and has gone through several rewrites and drafts at the County, most recently in 2007 when the previous Board chose “the worst case scenario” as the Preferred Alternative. The worst case would have allowed for the 100% retail commercial buildout of the former Masonite site, as favored by Developer's Diversified Realty (DDR), the multi-national development company that owns it. DDR, growing weary of the glacial planning process in Mendocino County, wrote their own plan and put it on the ballot by garnering thousands of signatures. “Measure A,” asked the voters to approve it as an initiative, which was soundly defeated by about 60-40 in November, 2009. The “No on Measure A” campaign, led by the “Smart Growth Coalition” extolled the glorious potential of the industrial zoned Masonite site and the need to preserve it for good paying jobs to fuel a sustainable local economy. But as soon as the Measure A threat was blunted the Smart Growth Coalition and all the high-minded talk about an “ecotech park” went back into mothballs. Odds are that the UVAP, even if approved, will go on the mothball shelf and collect cobwebs, just like every other “plan” approved in Mendocino County.