Off The Record

by AVA News Service, December 7, 2011

EVERY DAY, FRESH PROVOCATIONS. Congress has overwhelmingly approved the National Defense Authorization Act defining the US as a war zone and us as potential enemies, meaning indefinite incarceration without trial of anyone, including citizens, without trial.

CONGRESS IS ALSO considering a proposal by President Obama that will subvert Social Security by reducing the 12.4% Social Security payroll tax by 3.1% for workers and a matching 3.1% cut in the 40% share of that tax paid by employers — meaning a social security fund reduction of $350 billion in one year. This ripoff is being presented as a tax break, as if Social Security taxes are like the income tax. Like the Europeans, us ordinary folks are being squeezed to keep private banks and miscellaneous super rich people solvent. Lock and load, America!

MORE AVA DELIVERY DELAYS may be the result of the US Postal Service's looming consolidation plans. The Petaluma sorting and distribution facility has been targeted for closure, putting upwards of 250 people out of work. All Northcoast mail would then have to go to Oakland for distribution, including mail addressed to Anderson Valley addresses, which now goes to Petaluma from where it makes its leisurely way back up 101 to Boonville. With local mail now traveling to Oakland and then back to Boonville, and like dude, it will get back to you in the Anderson Valley like whenever. Overnight delivery will, of course, be unknown. Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, the big money Demo candidate running to replace Congressman Mike Thompson, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat this week that he opposes the Postal Service's facility consolidation plan, adding that “the agency should be strengthened not weakened.” Huffman told the PD that he agreed with Thompson that the solution to the USPS budget problems is not that they've been forced to absorb unrealistic pension demands by a USPS-hostile Congress and administration. No, Huffman said he supported “a proposal by Thompson to allow the Postal Service to ship wine.” Presto! Problem solved! (Please note that Huffman is already a menace prior to what we hope will not be his election to Congress as a Thompson clone.)

MAN BEATER of the week: Ms. Alicia Malugani, 26, of Ukiah. Alicia popped her insignificant other one and he, uninjured, called the police. You have to wonder at a man who will do that, and here's hoping this attractive young woman will look elsewhere for male companionship.

THE MENDOCINO WINEGRAPE AND WINE COMMISSION recently held its annual harvest party — here in Mendoland all the growers, ganja to grapes, throw a harvest party — at the Broiler Steakhouse. The wine guys and gals passed out awards for “Lifetime Achievement” to John Fetzer; “Founders Award” to Mike Boer; “Outstanding Service” to Ag Commissioner Tony Linegar; “Industry Partner Award” to Russian River Flood Control District General Manager Sean White; and the “George Zeni Memorial Award for Sustainability” to Al White. The latter award ostensibly recognizes the winegrower who best represents outstanding stewardship of the land, community service and the highest quality winegrape growing in Mendocino County. The sustainability award to Al White is further proof that the wine people are no longer in even sporadic touch with reality.

MUSIC, a confession and an exchange: A couple of years ago Jeff Costello, a musician and frequent contributor to this fine publication, asked me, “What music do you listen to?” I really didn't want to fess up that I hadn't deliberately sat down to listen to music in years, the last time being maybe twenty years ago when I was trying to learn something about opera. Before that, around 1960, I had this wacky girl friend who talked me into a Peggy Lee concert at the Masonic Auditorium which, I must say, I found baffling. And boring. Sixties tunes zipped right on by, the mass mob concerts of that time seeming to me a kind of masochism. Never went to a single one or had any desire to, although my wife and I saw Janis Joplin sing for free in the Panhandle one day when famous bands not yet famous played Sundays for free. Janis Joplin is the only one I can remember from the freebies because I'd never seen or heard anything like her.  Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra I would listen to with pleasure if someone else was playing them, but otherwise no music for me. Anyway, Costello says to me, “That's probably what's wrong with you. You don't listen to music.” Of course I said I wasn't aware that anything was “wrong” with me beyond the mainline eccentricities common to our splendiferous population, and that's where it ended.

I SHARED this story with Todd Walton, musician and writer, who commented, “I once asked a jazz bass player I admired what he was listening to these (those) days, and he said, “I hardly ever listen to recorded music. I practice and play gigs, and that's more than enough music for me.” I'm of the less is more school of listening to music or looking at art…one good song by Eva Cassidy or Nina Simone or Roland Hanna and I'm set up for hours. One long look at a good painting and I'm full. Constantly listening to music strikes me as kin to having the television on all the time. Distracting. Obfuscating. On the other hand, I want people to hear my music. I'm part of the modern dilemma. Prior to our very recent ability to make recordings, all music was live and generally happened in a larger social context. Now we have hundreds of millions of people lost in their private iPod worlds of digital noise—a massive group autism. And I want some of those autistics to listen to me. So it goes.”

OCCUPY UKIAH is targeting the proposed WalMart expansion that will be heard by the Ukiah Planning Commission on December 14, The Commission is considering the Wal Mart EIR and Site Development Permit. Any decision by the Planning Commission will likely be appealed to the City Council and, we tremulously assume, rejected by them.

THE UKIAH CITY COUNCIL is, however, poised to approve an immediate garbage rate increase and grant in what amounts to a 20 year contract to its waste hauler. An ad hoc committee consisting of councilmembers Landis and Thomas is enthusiastically recommending approval of the long-term deal that gives the company everything it wants at the expense of ratepayers. Mike Sweeney, Mendocino County's garbage czar, has submitted a list of 44 points criticizing the giveaway. Sweeney cited a dozen instances where the contracts violated existing City code. The solution, brought forward at the last meeting, was to amend City code to be consistent with the contract! Other minor concessions were made, but in every instance where money was on the line, the ad hoc committee sided with the company and against the ratepayer. Sweeney, as AVA readers know, or at least hear regularly in these pages, is a cunning little sociopath who maintains enough of a plausibly normal affect to have romantically snagged Press Democrat reporter Glenda Anderson and, prior to his abduction of sweet Glenda, had successfully re-invented himself as the very soul of respectability, quite a feat for a Sixties com-cult guy whose Maoist sect was involved in numerous bombings and at least two murders — three, if you count Judi Bari. Nobody ever said the guy was stupid, not that you have to test out beyond dull normal to get over on Mendolib, but Sweeney remains the sole likely suspect in the car bombing of his former and late wife, Ms. Bari. But, heck, nobody's perfect. Sweeney is certainly correct about this dumb garbage contract that Ukiah is about to enter into.

WHICH REMINDS ME, local 911 conspiracy people like Supervisor Dan Hamburg and Jim Houle, to name two of the most prominent of the local many, might want to look into the Bari case, painful as it may be to move from the world of distant implausibilities to local likelies. It's been obvious for years that much of Mendolib prefers the safety of Big Think to the next door controversies certain to upset their friends and allies. The Bari Bombing can be resolved via dna testing, but has long been considered as untouchable by local libs. (National Lib too, for that matter — cf Amy Goodman.) Locals seem satisfied that the Bari case remains forever a “mystery” even as The Biggest Elephant In The Smallest Room Ever saves the Ukiah Post Office, deconstructs Ukiah's foolish garbage contracts to protect Ukiah from itself, and annually sips alcohol-free eggnog with Mendolib at its Christmas parties.

THE FUTURE OF FOOD and green waste also figures prominently in the Ukiah garbage deal. In the City of Fort Bragg and the inland County franchise area from Hopland to Redwood Valley, homeowners can put their food waste into the yard waste container. Cold Creek Compost (CCC) is ready today to accept food waste from the City of Ukiah so that it could be composted instead of landfilled. But C and S Waste Solutions, the Ukiah waste hauler, claims it wants to reserve food waste for a “waste to energy” pilot program it promises to start, claiming waste to energy adds more value to the waste stream. The real story is that C and S is in direct competition with CCC's composting operation and does not want to add value to CCC. Meanwhile, unless the City Council directs C and S to start accepting food waste along with yard waste, the ratepayers will continue to pay to have the it trucked outtahere for landfill disposal.

SPORTS NOTES. Isn't it about 20 years past the time to end the lame-o Gatorade dunkings of big time football coaches? I find myself cringing as soon as the cretins announcing the game start chortling at the visual of big goofies sneaking up behind the coach with a huge container of the so-called energy drink. Another thing. Why are football announcers always yelling? I'M TELLIN' YAH THAT KID CAN REALLY THROW THE FOOTBALL.” Well, it is a football game we're watching, isn't it? The kid wouldn't be throwing a basketball, would he? The constant forced hilarity of the jock-o's at unfunny remarks is painful enough, but the commentary lately is so dumb it's gone clear into excruciating. I really, really miss Joe Starkey and Gary Plummer going the Niner games. Starkey yelled a lot but he was always interesting and often funny. And Plummer, a former NFL linebacker was always on task, bringing real information and never being a homer. I like Kruk and Kuip, but Kruk is such an extreme homer he's often tedious. Kuip gets away with it because he's a lot quieter than Kruk.

ANOTHER THING. (No, you can't leave until I'm finished boring you. Sit back down.) In the wake of the ultimate perv scandal at Penn State, sports writers are throwing around a lot of dubious statistics from unidentified “studies.” I read in the Chron sports page the other day that “A recent study showed one-third of women admitted they had been abused as girls. That number is one in six for men.” Abuse wasn't defined, but the implication of the column was that the abuse was sexual. If there's as much sexual abuse of the defenseless young as the experts tell us there is, I'd say it coincides with the rise of pornography, which ought to be banned as a clear and present menace to women of all ages, and it also is due to the mostly sedentary lives lived by most men, millions of whom apparently pass their days in front of their computers playing with themselves. I was only aware of one abuse case when I was a kid. He was a teammate of mine whose father regularly came home drunk and beat him up, often forcing my teammate to get out of bed to fight him. This kid would often arrive at school with visible bruises. I remember several of us urging the kid, whom we all liked, to fight back. There was no thought in those days of going to the police.  “Don't wait for him to hit you, hit him first,” we'd urge our friend, and he would say, “I can't. He's my father.” We're talking circa 1957 here. Things seem to have changed since then, especially the prevalence of the perv life style and its spin-off, sexual abuse of all sorts.

A READER WRITES: “The foster care system industry in Mendocino County is a thriving business; It brings in millions of dollars each year to the County and if it is not the largest source of employment, it isn't far behind. The foster family agencies get funding from the Feds and State for providing homes for the children they house and the County receives funding for providing services. I know of at least one case where a Mendocino County social worker filed child abuse allegations against a mother in order to keep her from taking her children and following her deported husband to Mexico. She is forced to stay here and participate in services The social worker did not think that Tijuana was an appropriate environment to raise children. These people are often uneducated and poor and cannot defend themselves from having their families ripped apart. As a social worker in Child Welfare, I fear this is a trend that will only get worse. Especially if social workers and their agencies attempt to play God.”

ONE OF THE MOST terrifying ideas coming out of last week’s Environmental Impact Report meeting for the indefensible new County Courthouse in Ukiah was the news that “one of the potential designs for the site has the courthouse being built without removing the library. One of the designs left the library where it is. It’s not ideal, but it’s possible,” said Laura Sainz who’s running the EIR process for the Court Admin office in Frisco. Imagine: a Stalinesque courthouse built “around” the current library which, itself, is a 70s vintage affair of minus design quality. Ukiah realtor Jack Cox, who wants the  proposed monstrosity located on property he owns, remarked, “You are going to have total gridlock and a horrible situation.” Verily, verily. A new courthouse at an already gridlocked intersection with an empty former courthouse a block away in an already half-dead downtown Ukiah? “I don't see how they've addressed that,” said Cox. Ms. Sainz said the nebulous and mostly unidentified “group” preparing the EIR has considered all this stuff. TRANSLATION: Just when you thought it wasn’t possible, Ukiah’s about to get a lot uglier and that much more unlivable.

SPEAKING of monstrousness, we noticed this item in the Press Democrat last week in a discussion of a “friendly” pit-bull-mastiff that someone is trying to adopt from the Healdsburg Animal Shelter to save it from being killed: “Higher-than-anticipated costs and lackluster donations for a $1 million 'sustainability' campaign to operate the shelter postponed its opening this year. Another $300,000 to $350,000 is needed to finish interior work before the new shelter can open.”

HEALDSBURG’s new animal shelter being a collection of ordinary steel buildings, how can “$300,000 to $350,000” be needed to “finish interior work”? Bet on it: The interior work is an office for the top two-footed dog.

THE MAJOR remembers visiting the Fresno Pound when he was a high school kid. Way before local animal kill centers were euphemized into animal shelters, the pound was a small collection of mid-sized cages made of cyclone fencing with homemade dog and cathouses inside. It was right next door to the County dump. An attendant visited every day to check on the animals and throw in some food. That was it. If you wanted an animal you simply showed up when the attendant was there and, unless the dog or cat was visibly injured or sick, you got it. The Major says he got his dog, Smokey, there. “He was a great dog, a mutt of about 80 pounds, enthusiastic and a pretty good football player, although he occasionally ‘tackled’ the wrong player.”

THESE DAYS we’ve got a million dollar pound in Healdsburg, a $19 million courthouse on the way to Ukiah (which will ultimately cost more than $50 mil, and I'm taking bets), a new Fire Station in Boonville to replace a perfectly good one that was torn down for no plausible reason whatsoever, a $6.25 million bus shed for the Mendocino Transit Authority's empty buses, a $3 million health center in Boonville that almost had to shut down because the grant funds to pay its huge note were nearly cut off and probably will be in the ongoing collapse of our Shop 'Til You Drop economy. And we’re about to get a whole new $16 million Boonville school remodel for 550 total students which will take more than ten years to fully accomplish.

BUT THE COUNTY is broke, the state is broker and the federal government is… well, the Chinese should have known better than to lend money to US.

THE MENDO Repub Central Committee will meet December 14 from 7pm-9pm at Moura Senior Housing, 400 South Street, in Fort Bragg. For further information contact: Stan Anderson, 707-321-2592.

“DON'T OVERLOOK UKIAH, Capital of Mendocino County, California. The Best and Fastest Growing City in Northern California. Ukiah is situated in the center of a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains, through which flows the Russian River. The land along the river is very rich, and a large acreage is in hops and alfalfa. The benchland lying between the river bottom and the mountains is particularly well suited to vineyards, and many acres are now planted to grapes. Land can still be bought in this valley at reasonable prices, and it offers many advantages to the homeseeker. Good climate and water. No fogs or malaria. For further information…” — ‘Out West’ Magazine, January 1907.

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