Off The Record
by AVA News Service, April 18, 2012
RARELY do we celebrate County appointments, but we're pleased to see Karen Wandrei appointed to the second-in-command position at the Welfare (aka Health & Human Services) Department. We very much admired Ms. Wandrei for her firm stance against dope in her old position as boss at the Youth Project. We remember one event where she alone in a room stuffed with the usual wafflers and closet stoners was clear that marijuana use among the young should be aggressively discouraged. Around here, that kind of clarity is Profiles In Courage material.
HOW BAD is the economy? A reader writes: “The workers at the Willits Senior Center Thrift Store have been trained to spot shoplifters, and the try-on booth has been closed due to ‘layering’.”
THE CORPSE washed up on the rocks north of Westport last week has been identified as Daniel Gregory Kolb, 34, of Colorado. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Department describes Kolb as a transient. He had one drunk in public arrest in Mendocino County and, I guess you could say, one last long drink in the Pacific.
VERY ODD photo circulating via Facebook of several jolly crones associated with the Mendocino Environment Center fellating baked penises, er, dough shaped as penises. Maybe Annie Esposito will deconstruct the picture from the feminist perspective, but darned if I can.
THE PRELIMINARY HEARING for Billy Norbury, accused murderer of Jamal Andrews, drew so many people to the County Courthouse last Tuesday afternoon, that the 150-seat courtroom was unable to accommodate the overflow crowd, most of it comprised of friends of the victim, a popular local reggae musician. Many of Andrews supporters are convinced that the shooting death of Andrews occurred solely because Andrews was black, Norbury a racist. Norbury lives not far from the Andrews home. He shot Andrews to death as Andrews stood in his own front yard. Tuesday's preliminary hearing was anti-climactic because Norbury's defense attorney, Al Kubanis, said it wouldn't be necessary, and waived the proceedings. It is rumored that Norbury will plead out on the basis that he is mentally ill. Andrews, from all accounts an outgoing man who made friends everywhere he went, was raised in the Laytonville area. A fundraiser for Andrews' his son is being held April 18th at the Mateel Community Center in Redway.
A DELEGATION of the pure and the good, mobilized by the murder of Jamal Andrews, has approached the DA’s office about training the Sheriff’s Department and the DA’s staff in ethnic sensitivities. They are convinced the murder of Jamal Andrews was racially inspired, Andrews being black, his killer, Billy Norbury, white.
WHATEVER THE RACE implications might be, we understand that the basic beef between Norbury and Andrews had to do more with the marijuana business than race hatred. There’s also the problem of the credentials of the persons who want to lecture the DA and the cops. Who are they and what makes them so confident they are zippitty zoo zah qualified to offer the rest of us moral instruction? To be blunt about it, we find it impossible to take seriously the Madam Defarges of the Mendocino Environment Center as moral exemplars, exemplary, nay virtuous, as they seem to think they are. There are lots of kindly, decent people in Mendocino County, but darned if any name springs to mind who might be qualified to pass out the advice on race relations. Anyway, disappointing as it probably is to our would-be tutors, the simple ethnic fact of life in Mendocino County is that people get along quite well, that there may be a few unimproved citizens walking around with unhealthy racial attitudes, but it just isn’t true that overt, or even implicit, race hatred is a problem in this county. Nationally? I’m hauling my AARP-aged carcass out on a very small limb to say that there are now millions of affectionate, loyal, cross-race relations where, when I was a kid, they existed only in the military and in the wide, wonderful world of sports, and in the latter just barely. Before that? None. The true problem here, there and everywhere is more one of social class, as in one tiny class has all the money and they’re killing the rest of us regardless of race, religion or creed.
MANBEATER OF THE WEEK! The gloriously unrepentant Myranda Rose Menton. “Of course I hit the punk, and I'm going straight home and blast him again for calling the cops on me. What a wimp! One little slap? Are you kidding me? I think I'm going to look around Ukiah for a real man. I think I saw one at WalMart.”
THE MENDOCINO County Board of Supervisors, at its Tuesday meeting, voted to amend the County's zoning ordinance to allow an asphalt plant at the Harris quarry, and also voted to allow the quarry to substantially expand extraction. The quarry, doing business as Northern Aggregates, is on the west side of the Willits Grade just off Highway 101. The hearing was long and contentious because there is much opposition to expansion of the quarry, and just as much to allowing asphalt plants at other County quarries.
“BIG BOXES spawn hate groups — Everyone and their mother’s brother emailed this to the Humboldt Herald. A report from Science News Online finds Hate Group Formation [is] Associated with Big-box Stores: The presence of big-box retailers, such as Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Target, may alter a community’s social and economic fabric enough to promote the creation of hate groups, according to economists. The number of Wal-Mart stores in a county is significantly correlated with the number of hate groups in the area, said Stephan Goetz, professor of agricultural economics and regional economics, Penn State, and director of the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development. Read the rest here. Eureka voters dealt a solid thumbs-down to Walmart in 1999 but will now get one anyway thanks to Eureka-based Carrington Co. and the roll-over-like-a-puppy-dog-for-its-corporate-masters City of Eureka.” (Courtesy, the Humboldt Herald.)
THE UKIAH PLANNING COMMISSION has again unanimously voted to nix WalMart’s desired expansion to include a mammoth food market. An expansion of the Ukiah store would be all bad, especially in driving some existing markets clear out of business. The Commission’s vote to reject was unanimous.
A READER WRITES: “My impression is that Tom Lynch is plain spoken, lacks rancor, maintains a sense of humor, knows what he is talking about, can make friends with anyone, is not afraid to get dirty, understands local government, and has a real life experience. He needs to get out there, voters will like him. Lynch is running against Wes Chesbro for Assembly.” Here! Here! Lynch would indeed be a radical improvement over Chesbro, a career officeholder of zero distinction, and a hog in the stream of any hope for progressive change.
THE “FINAL” Environmental Impact Report for the new Mendocino County Courthouse is now posted online, courtesy of the people shoving it down our throats, i.e., the Judicial Council of California's Administrative Office of the Courts based in Sacramento. The AOC says its still “selecting a site for the $119 million project, and is still considering two locations for the new courthouse” that no one except our eight (8) judges want, one plot near the Ukiah Railroad Depot on East Perkins Street and a collection of parcels that includes the library and Curry's Furniture. Pure bushwah, as is the projected figure of $119 million for the project. It will cost at least twice that amount and it will be built on Perkins, and it will be the ugliest large building between here and Eugene, Oregon, where a new federal courthouse fouls the skyline of East Eugene.
SCOTT DIETZ will succeed Dan Gjerde on the Fort Bragg City Council as Gjerde succeeds Kendall Smith as a County supervisor. What can we expect from Dietz? He’s a real estate salesman who works for Paul Clark at Century 21. (That fact alone speaks volumes.) Deitz is a registered Republican, meaning, inevitably in this County, the Fox News worldview. He is of course pro-development whatever the development, not that any is likely any time soon in Fort Bragg. But Dietz’s victory in an unenthusiastic election means the Council now has a 3-2 majority of persons who confuse private and public interest who will soon become a 4-1 majority because the libs have no one in sight or even in mind to run just when... Just when the town's biggest decision ever, the old G-P mill site comes up for possible development. As a long-time Coastie put it, “It is sad when you think how hard we worked in the late 90s to win three reform seats on the council and had a liberal majority.”
A READER immediately writes: “Scott Dietz was elected to fill the vacancy left when Jere Melo was murdered. Dietz and Hammerstrom, if he chooses to run, will be on the ballot in November. Gjerde's seat will be filled by appointment of the Council unless he resigns early enough for the seat to be on the ballot in November. And what is this crap about the election of Dietz shifting the ideological needle at the Council? Melo was a liberal? Please! I had tremendous respect for Jere, who was mainly focused on how to make government work for the people, but I don't think you would see him on the picket lines with the tin foil hatters. And I would not exactly describe Hammerstrom and Turner as conservatives. Must be something in the water over there.”
BUT THE TRULY terrifying news from the Coast is that ominous rumor that former city manager Gary Milliman wants to come back to Fort Bragg and is looking for a job. Milliman? The horror, the horror. Put it this way: If we’d had a DA who took major crimes seriously when Milliman was running Fort Bragg, Milliman and the people who burned the heart out of the town in 1987 would have gone to jail.
A READER WRITES: “I heard Amy Goodman's hash on 'Who Bombed Judi Bari?' and I didn't here the name Sweeney mentioned, even once. What is this shit, white noise?”
DEMOCRACY NOW is to the Left what Fox News is to the Right. The integrity quotient at both is about the same. But then you never know. Maybe one of the Bay Area's ten thousand investigative editors will go to one of the twenty thousand Bay Area investigative reporters who will alert the Bay Area's 5 million progressives that maybe it's time to do a story about clay foots. ##
ACCORDING to Linda Williams of the Willits News, we're a lot richer than we look, with a reported gross County-wide income for 2010 of $1.377 billion with as much as another $675 million chipped in on top of the billion from the dope business, or underground economy. Two-plus billion for 90,000 people? Assuming half the 90,000 are children, that's better than 40 grand per adult, much of it tax free.
GOLDILOCKS, aka “Pixie” aka Jacqueline Audet, was arrested again for drunk in public last Thursday, this time in Fort Bragg. Considering that her first local drunk in public arrest occurred when Pixie was only 19, she’s on her way to setting the record for most drunk in public arrests for a female under the age of 30.
We haven't been able to find anyone who knows anything about her, where she came from, her family, the reasons for her self-destructive descent. From the look of her, we surmise a privileged childhood and maybe the onset of an extreme case of what the French call “nostalgie de la boue,” translated roughly as “romantization of the dirtbag.” Years ago, the hippie movement saw the same phenomena on a larger scale when several millions sons and daughters of the secure middleclass dabbled in mass degradation before re-entering to lay claim to jobs as lawyers, teachers, non-profit blah-blahers, and, of course, therapists. But Pixie, only 22, at 4'11” and 97 pounds seems intent on destroying herself.
STACY CRYER, Mendocino County’s Director of Health and Human Services reported last Monday that Mendo had 8.3 assigned to foster care from abuse and neglect per 1000 children compared to the state average of 3.3 per 1000 children. Ms. Cryer then gave some “possible reasons” for differences in various counties: “each county’s service array, standards of evidence, law-enforcement removals, demographic risk factors,” and “a variety of other policy/practice differences.” Ms. Cryer added, “This county is similar to other Northern California counties with the marijuana issue. When you look at Mendocino County and compare it with Humboldt County we look more in line.” Er, with what? Marijuna use or child abuse? What exactly is the correlation?
SUPERVISOR DAN HAMBURG: “According to the entry rates by county we are about double Humboldt. I thought you said we were about the same. How can we be so different? I see where we are about the same as Trinity or Mariposa.”
MS. CRYER: “When you look at the numbers that are off the spectrum we are more like the average that you see in Northern California than the Bay Area.”
SUPERVISOR HAMBURG: “You mentioned marijuana. And it's been brought to my attention that a lot of times rather routine marijuana cases involve children being removed from homes. I just wonder, is that a factor in Mendocino County where it's not as much in Humboldt County, which is also a marijuana county? I'm just curious. I noticed that big discrepancy between us and Humboldt County over the weekend when I was reading this. But I just don't understand why.”
SHERYN HILDEBRAND, HHS staffer, groped for possible explanations: “One of the main factors is education. Different departments use different systems for bringing children in. So it's more standardized. One of the things that stood out was education. Some counties really make a push on educating people about child abuse prevention. So you have an awareness and you have this village raising your children and you need to protect and you need to make sure that children are becoming a priority as we are asking you to do as a county. When you make children our priority you are looking out for them and your standards become higher as to what we will accept as to what is abuse and what is not abuse, so I think that that is at the state level what we were coming up with. We can go all the way to individual opinions about whether it is our drug problem which is certainly a factor. All 4 of these northern counties are 2 or 3 times the state average. It’s rural areas. You have more drug problems in this area which I think our department will say that 80% of any child that comes into the system, there is substance abuse involved. It does not need to be meth, or marijuana. It could be alcohol. But one of the more significant factors is awareness. We need to make sure that everybody understands what child abuse is.”
SUPERVISOR HAMBURG: “I just keep bringing up this issue of Humboldt because Humboldt is kind of similar to us demographically and in terms of their substance abuse issues. The rest of them kind of makes sense. But that one just sticks out as a big fat anomaly.”
SUPERVISOR JOHN McCOWEN didn’t know either: “We may have a higher level of awareness of what constitutes child abuse and a higher number of people who are ready to act on that knowledge because frankly the difference between Humboldt and Mendocino, while I agree demographically that it ought to be pretty similar, but it's hard for me to believe that we have two and a half times more child abuse than Sacramento.”
THE DIALOGUE of the deaf continued. Since there's no way for the interested public to evaluate the quality of Welfare decision making about which children to pull and which to leave to the mercies of their incompetent parents, everyone starts from the assumption that Mendo CPS is staffed by smart, sensible persons. Who knows? These people all hide their job performances, good, bad and indifferent behind “confidentiality” regs, claiming that confidentiality is “in the best interests of the child.”
SUPERVISOR JOHN PINCHES offered the most humane take on the foster situation: “The lady from Air Quality said recently that they had hundreds of millions of dollars to spend to retrofit and replace trucks and so forth. This shows where we've really prioritized where we are with our children. We talk about making old people and children first. In politics it's popular to talk about how they are first. But the reality when it comes to the budgetary process is that they are really last. And they have been for quite some time. And I don't see anything changing. I don't put much faith in any of these statistics. It boils down to how you tell with any individual child whether they are in a crisis. It comes down to family values. We have observed the breakup of the American family probably going on now for at least 40 years. We can blame it on drugs. We can blame it on jobs changing. The husband and the wife have the breakdown of the family and the changes in social values. That has a lot to do with it. It's really depressing to me because in general, we all have certain emphasis, I guess, emphasis of success as was indicated here today. But when you look at the big picture we are basically failing. I think that as soon as we admit rather than creating another program and another funding source, we have to take a step back and say what can we do to keep families together. I know I always had the rancher’s perspective on everything. In the livestock business a cow and a calf is really good until you separate them across the fence and they can’t get together. Then everything started happening that's really bad. It's really a simple process. I don't know whether it means creating more jobs or whatnot. We have to do something to deal with the basic process. It starts with the breakup of the family unit. Somehow we have to do more with that that instead of creating more programs that deal with the afterthought and the mess that is created. We need to do more to keep the family values and to keeping families together. I'm going to stop there because I don't really have any answers.”
DEPENDENT CHILDREN are a virtual gold mine for the whole depressing apparatus of misery vultures who feed on them. So long as millions are paid out to this apparat, presided over by judges of course, there's no incentive for it to reform. As is, the system harms the children it allegedly serves because it's not stable, bouncing the kid from home to home until, when the funding for him ends on his 18th birthday, he permanently bounced out onto the street.
SALUD, NATIONAL LIBRARY WEEK! “Freedom to read,” is the slogan, although book culture is seriously on the wane, book culture defined the old way as several million people keeping abreast of quality lit as a way of life. But that's another discussion. Anyway, it's good to see that some people still think books and ideas are dangerous. Here in Mendocino County the “liberals” are the most active censors, often rolling out to demand that the Ukiah Daily Journal ban the Sunday columns of Tommy Wayne Kramer. Needless to say, the Boonville newspaper has also felt the limp lash of the lib's condemnation but it's not often we have to slip on our flea collars to beat them back. Could censorship happen here? It does happen here. If David Smith-Hyphen, a poet of all things, and a Harvard grad and retired Boonville teacher named David Rounds, not to mention such speakers-of-truth-to-power as Jim Mastin, had their way, Tommy Wayne would be a goner. And put the Boonville newspaper to a vote at KZYX, say, or the Mendocino Environment Center, and we'd be bye, bye baby, too. But if you put the theory of the free exchange of ideas to a vote I'd bet Mendo would go for it about 60-40; attach names to the theory it might not make it. Unfettered opinion is always precarious, and it's a huge irony that in this lib-dominated county it's the “liberals” who do censorship the most.
AS A YOUNG SUBVERSIVE, books and mags were central to my life and the lives of everyone I associated with. The diff now, and excuse the generalization, is that with print on the way out today's radlibs don't read and, therefore, tend to be inarticulate and incapable of coherent thought even though their instincts are good. Well, mostly good; I've never seen or heard more lockstep opinion than there is now. It's not only the libs who can't talk, tune in any talk show, commercial or public, and chances are the host or hostess will be marginally verbal, as will most of the callers. KZYX talk, for handy local example, is so garbled, so stumblingly inarticulate, it's painful to listen to. Another couple of years and local talk hosts and their guests, a high percentage of whom are audibly and otherwise deranged, will simply be grunting at each other. “Ugh. Me good. You good, too. Him not so good.”
ANYWAY, according to the Office of Intellectual Freedom and the American Library Association, the following are the 10 most challenged books of 2011 with a brief statement about why they were objected to. I'd only heard of three of the authors and books — Huxley, Harper Lee and the great Sherman Alexie. (On the off chance a person under the age of 70 happens to read this, Alexie is really good. A spirited person of any age is going to like him.) Quaint that people are still objecting to Brave New World and To Kill A Mockingbird, and hilarious that some of these books are objected to on the grounds that they're “sexually explicit.” In our porn-drenched country where truly foul media of all kinds flourishes, the censors are fretting over Brave New World and To Kill A Mockingbird?
1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle. Offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group.
2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa. Nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group.
3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins. Anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence.
4. My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler. Nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group.
5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie. Offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group.
6. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint.
7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley. Insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit.
8. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones. Nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit.
9. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar. Drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit.
10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Offensive language; racism.
LATELY, when I'm doing my hill work in the city, I listen to sports talk on KNBR with The Razor and Mr. T. The Razor just got fired in a particularly thuggish way. He shows up for work, the boss calls him in to say he's been fired, giving the Razor (Ralph Barbieri) no reason for offing him, and he's escorted out of the office and onto the street. I'm not the only guy who doesn't get it. That show is the only intelligent sports talk I know of. The others are really, really dumb, especially Mack and Murph where you're bombarded by a lot of whiz-bang sound effects barely suitable for ten-year-olds and these two morons yelling at each other. “I GOTTA TELL YA THE KID CAN HIT!” It was one or the other of these clowns who on-air advised Jim Harbaugh “to spend more time with your family, dude.” Harbaugh surely had to resist taking a punch at the fool.
THEN, just this past Saturday morning, some sports talk 'tard whose name I didn't get and wouldn't want to know anyway hosted a show that partly dwelt on the Ozzie Guillen controversy. For you non-sports fans, Guillen is the manager of the Miami Marlins. Miami is also home base of lots of people on the wrong side of the Cuban Revolution. Guillen made the offhand remark that he admired Castro's longevity. The Gusanos went nuts, and Guillen is probably going to be fired because everyone in pundit-ville has piled on the guy since. To me, Guillen was simply stating the obvious. Castro has outlasted his critics, not to mention the CIA's multiple attempts to murder him. It was painful to watch Guillen weeping through an apology. He's one of the most colorful guys left in big time sports, so they beat him down into the bland mold everyone else has been blanded into.
SO, HERE'S THIS talk jock chatting with a tax lawyer and major KNBR advertiser named Moskowitz about Guillen's Castro remark. Moskowitz immediately compares Guillen's statement to Holocaust denial and says Cubans “are starving and they dress in rags.” The talk show idiot adds, “And look at all the people Castro's killed.” It went on like this with no one calling in to make at least the basic corrections, pointing out that Cubans are well fed and quite stylish despite… well, Castro could have lightened up years ago, it seems to me, at no peril to his regime. Raul Castro seems headed in the direction of major reform, but most informed people understand that the Cuban Revolution has survived because most Cubans support it. Ditto for Chavez in Venezuela, Guillen's motherland. And I daresay Guillen and all the other Latin ballplayer have a better understanding of South American politics than the fucking Brookings Institute. After all, they've all been on the receiving end of GringoLandia's imperialism. (By the way, the average Mexican immigrant, at least the ones I've talked to about it, know the diff between socialism and communism, a distinction very few Americans can make.) Probably the only place in this country of yobbos where there could be a rational, intelligent, calm, audio conversation about the Castro regime would be on Krazny's show on KQED Radio.
ANYBODY WHO'S BEEN to a Giants game knows the kettle corn guy, identified as Howard Ellsworth Lowe, 71, in a fine piece in Friday's Chron by Sam Whiting. A couple of times a game the kettle corn guy breaks into a nimble, free form dance that's pure joy to behold. Hence his nickname, “Crazy Legs.” They put him up on the big screen and the crowd goes crazy.
THE ECONOMICS of kettle corn don't work in Howard's favor, which is no surprise, but they turn out to be worse than I would have thought. We're talking about a 71-year-old man with arthritic knees who probably walks five miles a game up and down stadium stairs for an average take of about a hundred bucks. (He gets 15% on a bag of the stuff that goes for $6.75. Plus tips.) In the off season, Howard lives in Sacramento. In The City, he stays in hostels that cost him $15-$30 a night with a three-night limit. The old guy's got the secret, though, dancing for barely minimum wage.
BTW, the Giants shortstop, Brandon Crawford, made a truly great play on opening day, suddenly appearing from deep short on a dribbler past the pitcher to one hand it and, in one motion, nail by a foot the Pirates fastest guy, Andrew McCutchen. Only the very best of the great shortstops could have made that play, so great his teammates were roughing him up like he'd hit a grand slam.
WE'VE MADE FORMAL requests of the Fort Bragg Police Department and the Mendo DA for whatever files they have on the Fort Bragg Fires of 1986 and 1987. Fort Bragg's attorney, Michael Gogna, replied at length to say those files were destroyed some time ago because no homicides were involved. In fact, there might have been one, that of Kenny Rick, who allegedly committed a fairly acrobatic shotgun suicide the day before he was due in San Francisco to testify on the fires before a federal grand jury. Rick had been hired to set some of the fires by the fire's logistics man, a 400-pound convicted corpse robber out of San Mateo County. Naturally, he relocated to Mendocino County where everyone is whatever he says he is and history starts all over again every day. The Fat Man had a midnight janitorial service, cleaning up, among other local institutions, the Savings Bank and AT&T. His late night work gave him the plausible after hours cover the fires' shot callers needed to burn theirs and rival business's. They hired The Fat Man to drive up and down Main Street delivering cans of gas, cocaine and cash to the young guys who did the torching. You can't make this stuff up, but it happened.
THE DA has yet to respond to our request for his files on the arsons, but has said informally there's nothing in his office related to the infamous events. It all should have been preserved as history if not grist for the legal mills, not that those mills were grinding slow but fine in the 1980s because they'd been self-monkeywrenched by the DA herself. We suspect that most of the information may have been disappeared by former DA Susan Massini; it was on her watch that the statute of limitations was allowed to run on the fires, although there seems to have been more than enough evidence to indict at least two well-connected persons. The fires, incidentally, still inspire pure terror in the low-level persons who have direct knowledge of who did what.
FROM MENDO NATIONAL FOREST headquarters at Willows: “Snow pack measurements taken at Anthony Peak on the Mendocino National Forest at the end of March show that snow depth and water content in the Forest have significantly improved compared to two months earlier. The average snow pack measured at the end of the month was 69.1 inches, with water content measuring 24.5 inches. These measurements are 104% of average snow pack and 85% of average water content… For reference, 1991 was the record low with 4.1 inches of snow pack. The record high was in 1969 with 148.8 inches of snow pack. … Originally established in 1944, the Anthony Peak snow course provides data for precipitation draining into the Grindstone watershed into Stony Creek and Black Butte Reservoir, ending in the Sacramento River.”
THERE'S ALSO very good cross country skiing up on the Mendocino Pass, I'm told, the last big ridge of the Coast Range separating Mendocino County from the Sacramento Valley. Anthony Peak rises 6,954 feet, and is Mendocino County's highest point. There's a drive-up lookout station at the summit, unmanned these days. The drive over the Pass to Willows is about three hours, impassable in the winter months, pretty good gravel road much of the way in the summer time, and a trip any true Mendolander should make at least once. I always bring a gat myself because, well, because the trip is long on a remote road, but in the summer months fairly teeming with Lurks.
HANK SIMS of Lost Coast Outpost writes: “Six months ago Stacy Lawson was an also-ran 2nd District Congressional candidate at best. But the Federal Elections Commission reports that Lawson, a business executive who moved into California’s new Second Congressional District only recently, is now at the head of the pack when it comes to campaign fundraising. With the most recent round of campaign finance reports in, Lawson’s campaign reports having raised $740,000 to date — well ahead of presumed frontrunner Jared Huffman, who has taken in only $586,000. Activist Norman Solomon is at a distant third, with $311,000 raised. We’ll dive deeply into the particulars soon, but there’s a few interesting surface notes, here. One: Republican candidate Dan Roberts has now loaned his own campaign roughly $160,000 in an effort to make it past the June election. With California’s open primary rules in effect, the top Republican is no longer guaranteed a ticket to November. Roberts is apparently shelling out big in order to prevent an increasingly likely Dem-on-Dem general election. Two: Lawson has raised, but so has she spent. Huffman and Lawson have just about the same amount of cash in the bank at the moment — $450,000, give or take — which should mean that our televisions are going to be swamped with dueling ads in the run-up to the June primary election. But the Stacey Surge is making some people nervous. It seems someone — who knows who? — has turned to black ops in an effort slow Lawson. Presumably most everyone has seen the SF Chron article over the weekend that detailed Lawson’s horrid voting record — she managed to get herself to the polls in only four of the last 12 elections — but that didn’t stop a dirt merchant named “firstname.lastname@example.org” from blasting the link out to area media this morning, with an implicit promise of more to follow.”
UPDATE FROM HANK: “No sooner had we written the above that we noticed that it looks like the main FEC campaign finance disclosure page for the Second Congressional District updated Lawson’s numbers today, but not those of the other candidates. Hence the (apparent) big jump in her numbers. Here’s the real deal: Huffman still leads in fundraising, with $864,000 collected. Lawson is second with $740,000. Solomon is third, with $526,000. Huffman has a massive $562,000 still in the bank; Lawson has a still-impressive $450,000.”
“KEEP THE CODE!” The neighbors who organized to fight the Harris Quarry focused on defeating the zoning code amendment that would allow location of an asphalt plant in rangeland zones. They painted a potential horror story of asphalt plants, oil and gas drilling rigs and fracking popping up anywhere in the vast stretches of the county, including parts of the coast, that are similarly zoned. The eco-red alert inspired a flood of emails urging the Supes to save our coast and protect our rolling hills and oak woodlands from despoilation. But the alarm was misplaced. The code amendment only allows an asphalt plant in rangeland if it is co-located with a rock quarry. And not allowed at all in the coastal zone where a full environmental review (CEQA) and a use permit would still be required.
THERE ARE ONLY TEN OR SO QUARRIES IN THE COUNTY, most of them too small to justify the expense of adding an asphalt plant, not to mention the cost to small business of navigating the regulatory process. Northern Aggregates, the owners of Harris Quarry, are said to have spent $2 million dollars over the last eight years to get as far into the permitting process as they have. By overstating the threat posed by the zoning change, Keep The Code probably undermined their best arguments, which related to visual impacts, traffic, noise, nearby fault zones, water and nighttime lighting.
THE RIDGEWOOD RANCH COMMUNITY, downwind of the quarry, joined Keep The Code in opposition. Ridgewood, owned by the Golden Rule Church Association was started years ago by a group of people who figured out that if they called themselves a church they could avoid paying a lot of the taxes that you and I pay, and who can fault them for that? The Ridgewood Ranch folks likely will not be able to see, hear or smell the asphalt plant which is on the other side of a heavily forested hill from them. Very few of the Keep the Code folks will see the asphalt plant from their homes, the nearest of which is a mile away, but they will all see it for about 30 seconds when they drive east to get to Highway 101 at the decaying strip development that runs north from the intersection of Black Bart Drive and Highway 101. The biggest impact may be the proposed nighttime operations of up to 100 nights a year, which will lend industrial scale glare to the view of the night sky.
KEEP THE CODE AND THE RIDGEWOOD RANCHERS were taken by surprise by the 5-0 vote of the Board, with their own Supervisor Hamburg making the motion to certify the EIR and approve the zoning code amendment and rezone. The Planning Commission took the same action on a 7-0 vote. The project will now go back to the Planning Commission for consideration of a use permit for the project itself. But given the previous 7-0 vote, the writing is on the wall. This deal is done.
THE PLANNING COMMISSION has a history of working to achieve consensus, so a unanimous vote there is not such a surprise. The Supes, however, have for many years been models of contention. But this Board, with the exception of Smith who seems to suffer, as they say, “mental health issues,” functions pretty well, giving all issues a fair and thorough hearing.
THE APPENDED Memo of the Week is a case in point, with Hamburg, Mendolib's herd bull, and McCowen, the “urban” Supervisor who primarily represents Ukiah, teaming up on a letter of support for a grant by the City of Fort Bragg to provide services to the homeless mentally ill. Hamburg and McCowen also recently collaborated on a letter of support for permanent protection of the Stornetta Public Lands near Point Arena, and have been working on the Broadband and Foreclosure issues. Supervisor Carre Brown has been working with Hamburg on local food security, and Brown frequently co-sponsors feel good Proclamations with Smith and McCowen. It is a far cry from the recent past where the two coastal Supes, Colfax and Smith, and their inland counterparts were more likely to be engaged in mutual attempts to sabotage the efforts of their colleagues. Having established a basic collegiality that previously didn't exist, the Board, for the first time in years, is working in the true interests of Mendocino County. In January, Kendall Smith will be replaced by Fort Bragg Councilmember Dan Gjerde, an honest and hard working young guy who will only strengthen the Board.
STATE SENATOR NOREEN EVANS, who routinely complains about her low pay of $95,291, not including generous retirement, per diem, car allowance and other benefits that the 99% only dream of, has admitted to taking tens of thousands of dollars annually for doing legal work on the side for two Santa Rosa law firms. Evans says she has maintained a part- time law practice since 1982, but since being elected to office she has only reported her outside income for the last two years. The Fair Political Practices Commission recently notified Evans that she needed to refile her 2010 and 2011 disclosure forms to accurately report that the income she received was from a law firm that she owns, and not one where she was merely an employee. Evans will also be required to report more detailed financial information than if she were merely an employee, including how much the business is worth and how much income she received from it, as well as each individual source of income worth more than $10,000. Evans had previously reported her law practice income as a range of from $20,000 to $200,000, the better to conceal the actual details.
JUBILATION over passage of the sales tax increase to save the CV Starr Center was still fresh when the City of Fort Bragg hard balled the Mendocino Coast Recreation and Park District into revising the tax sharing agreement that they previously agreed to. The original agreement said the City was entitled to 45 percent of the district's property tax revenue or the amount of the district's property tax revenue generated within the City of Fort Bragg, whichever is less. The City demanded that be changed to a straight 45% of the district's revenue. The original language was provided by the City's legal counsel, but after the election the City Council insisted they had told the voters they would be getting 45% of the district's tax revenue. The amendment passed the Park District Board on a 3-2 vote, with the minority complaining that the change violated a provision of the agreement that the transfer of the property tax revenue “will not impede the ability [of the Park District] to provide existing services.” The minority also objected that the City does not need to spend the 45% on the Starr Center, but can use it for any other city recreation programs.