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Mendocino County Today: January 26, 2013

by AVA News Service, January 25, 2013

MONICA FUCHS WROTE on Thursday: “We have known for some time that Mental Health services in Mendocino County are understaffed, underfunded and poorly managed. But since Monday night the building on 1120 South Dora Street in Ukiah is literally under water. A pipe burst (deferred maintenance issue?) and flooded the offices of Mental Health, Alcohol and other Drugs program and Public Health. County employees arriving Tuesday morning found their offices flooded up to 10 inches and started immediately trying to save client files, computer equipment and personal items. Later the same day a disaster clean-up company arrived and started to vacuum out the water, put up giant fans to circulate the air. In the meantime employees continued to evacuate their offices. On Wednesday morning the disaster clean-up company arrived to remove all their equipment telling the staff that they had been ordered to leave because they are not the company contracted with by the County insurance. No new clean up crew has arrived as of today, Thursday. As usual, no guidance from upper management, which gives lots of room for speculation and rumors. I feel that at this time the building is a health hazard, especially to employees and clients who have pre-existing conditions. So far no word if our offices will be moved, when the next clean up crew will arrive, if and when mildewing, molding carpeting will be removed. — Monika Fuchs, Philo”

HHSBuildingWE ASKED SUPERVISOR McCOWEN what was happening. McCowen quickly replied: “My understanding is that all employees who were flooded out have been re-located. It was also my understanding that the employees were being informed. If this is not the case then someone is dropping the ball. If people don’t have info they will make it up. (They might make it up anyway, but at least we could say we tried.) The call to pull out the original restoration service company was made by the insurance company who did not think they had the capability. The replacement company was supposed to be on the job today. Because ins. will be covering most of the cost, they get to call the shots. I doubt the pipe burst from “lack of maintenance” but I do not know the cause. The bldg is not that old. Fifty years? Once the water is extracted, the damage will be assessed. I think you are wrong about the ins. company not looking out for the staff or the County. The insurance company was insisting that testing be done for air quality, etc. At the point at which more than 160 square feet of material is to be removed, asbestos clearance will be required. I know there is a great temptation to go with the first wave of hysterical reports, where uninformed people co-validate their worst case scenarios.”

WE WROTE BACK to McCowen: “We’re not sure ‘re-located’ is applicable to some of those MH workers. I understand some of them were just sent home because their computers and files were inaccessible during the flooding and the response. That’ll have to be evaluated day to day as the damage is assessed and repairs/recovery made. We’re certainly not trying to blame anyone for the plumbing problem. Just making sure you’re aware of what we’re hearing and hoping that management is on top of it to the extent possible. HHS isn’t exactly in great shape management-wise these days. We still think an official press release is in order. It’s common knowledge to a lot of people anyway. The public should at least be aware of whatever the situation is in that building in case they had appointments, friends or other business there. To know that it’s been dealt with would be helpful to all concerned, and cut down on rumors.”

TO WHICH McCowen said: “Am told that the new company was on site today and that GSA and HHSA higher ups had a Q&A with the new company and staff. The level of communication to all staff is not yet clear. Which indicates it could have been better. Trying to confirm if the new company showed up today. I am also trying to confirm the level of notice to our employees. At a minimum, those working in the Dora St. facility should be kept in the loop, but why not everyone in HHSA? Will let you know as soon as I hear anything back. And no, it has not been four days. Monday was a holiday, so the flood was discovered Tuesday morning. That means it was two days as of this morning when you recd the email from your informant. Again, it was the ins. company, in the form of the adjuster, who ordered the original cleanup company off the job because the ins. co. said they did not think the original company was up to the job. However, once the size of the job became apparent, it would have been prudent to extend the evacuation to other people in the building to guard against the employees thinking they were being exposed to airborne toxic mold, etc. I agree a press release would have been in order. I am also suspicious that we did not do as much as we could have to inform our employees, including those who were not impacted. We don’t seem to have many people who understand the concept of getting out in front of things. K. McMenomy did come to the Board Tuesday for an off agenda item to declare the situation an emergency but how many people were watching? By the way, what ever happened to that $8,000 communications policy the County paid for?”

DORA BRILEY of Public and Mental Health issued the following press release Friday morning:

On January 22, 2013, Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency staff arrived to their offices at 1120 S. Dora Street in Ukiah to find that overnight, a one-inch water pipe in the ceiling had burst and water filled the north west to north east section of the building. On site staff immediately called the County General Services Agency and help was dispatched to turn off the water, repair the pipe and begin clean up operations of the building.

County leadership met with all involved and devised a plan of action to mitigate the damage, keep staff safely housed, keep services running and the community served with the least amount of interruptions possible. Public Health and Mental Health staff are to be commended for their fast actions to preserve equipment and files. Their positive attitudes and willingness to adapt to an immediate disaster situation within their very offices is admirable. Their skills and dedication to not only their co-workers but to their clients and the general public to continue business as usual in an adverse situation is simply amazing. Affected staff offices were moved to available space within the building, as well as client treatment areas. Public lobbies are condensed into one entry point with all services represented.

The County’s first and foremost concern is the safety of their staff located at this site as well as the general public visit the office daily. First responders to the building from General Services Agency stopped the flow of water and immediately began to remove water from the building. An immediate contractor was able to begin the drying process to mitigate further loss to the office. These services occurred Tuesday and Wednesday. The Board of Supervisors approved a state of emergency for the site on Tuesday afternoon. This allows the County to bring in restoration services immediately without having to go through a bidding process.

The County’s insurance company, Alliant, has a restoration company, Belfor on site as of early Thursday morning. An industrial hygienist toured the facility and took samples of the entire area to test for any hazardous materials prior to doing any structural work. Results from those tests are due pending.

Thursday the site was assessed for immediate needs to keep staff safe, services flowing and clients served. Work will continue through the weekend 24/7. The public will see activity at the site in the form of moving trucks, county work trucks and Belfor equipment. Occasional inmate workers will also be visible as we pull every resource available to remedy this loss.

A temporary modular structure will be installed on Sunday in the north parking lot of the facility. This modular will allow the WIC program to have adequate space to continue serving their clients. WIC services for Monday, January 28 have been canceled and clients were notified. WIC will be open for business on Tuesday, January 29.

An immediate and orderly plan of restoration has been devised in cooperation with Alliant, Belfor and County General Services Agency /Risk management and HHSA leadership. As of Friday morning, January 25, Belfor has installed barriers to the affected portions of the damaged building. This allows for control of odors from water damage, lessens the noise of the work being done, and assists with the drying process. 24/7 security has been installed at the site as required by State and Federal mandates for such offices.

At this time, all services located at the Dora Street Public Health and Mental Health office are up and running. The public is being served despite the mess from the flood. Please be patient as you visit the office as operations are somewhat different due to the situation. Thank you for your understanding during this time. As test results come back and information is available on the next steps, there will be updates to media.

MONICA FUCHS in a follow up note Friday afternoon added: “The latest info is that the new (and improved?) disaster clean-up company as of yesterday was assessing the damage and subsequent health hazards. Verdict? Building might be inhabitable within the next 48 hours or it might take 3 months or more! That sounds like they REALLY know what they are doing. Doesn’t it? — Monika Fuchs”

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WHEN THE NINERS win the Super Bowl a week from Sunday, the people who use sports as an excuse to riot and rob can expect beefed-up police presences in the places where concentrations of troublemakers are likely to congregate — a few blocks in the Mission, and lower Haight Street especially. The mayor’s office says police will be monitoring crowds and bars at multiple hotspots in San Francisco. More than 400 officers will be on duty, triple the number on a normal Sunday. Mayor Ed Lee is suggesting that bars limit liquor sales or at the very least serve alcohol responsibly, as if bartenders, in the celebratory crush, have the time and the ability to cut people off.  There will be no public viewing of the February 3 game in the Civic Center similar to when the Giants clinched the World Series in October. Inviting drunks and hooligans in the thousands to one area was not a good idea. Police say 36 people were arrested during postgame celebrations that got out of control after the playoff win over Atlanta. Things got way outta hand when the Giants clinched, and outta hand again when they won the World Series.

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TODD WALTON WRITES: “I wanted to remind you of another Tule Elk comeback story, the herds in the Tule Elk Reserve at Tomales Point in Point Reyes National Seashore. Here’s the blip from the official Point Reyes web site. I would only add that the presence of the elk there has brought back mountain lions to the area, and since Tomales Point is one of the few parts of the park off limits to cattle, the natural vegetation has returned magnificently, the rodents have thrived, and the raptor population has made a big comeback, too. ‘The tule elk herds had virtually disappeared by 1860, 13 years before the state awarded them complete protection. In the spring of 1978, two bulls and eight cows were brought in from the San Luis Island Wildlife Refuge near Los Banos. The elk were contained within a temporary, three acre enclosure to allow for adjustment to their new surroundings. That summer, 6 of the cows bore calves. In the fall, 17 elk were released from the enclosure on Tomales Point to 1,050 hectares (2,600 acres) of open grassland and coastal scrub. By the summer of 1988, the population was at 93 animals. The population census taken in 2000 counted over 400 elk. In 2009, over 440 were counted at Tomales Point, making the the Point Reyes herds one of the largest populations in California’.”

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JEFF COSTELLO WRITES: The profile you present for Mendo liberals is pretty much universal to describe the breed. I send this from Marin, a highly rated place on the scale of smug, although real human beings can be found anywhere, even here. A quick memory, my first encounter with political correctness: In 1977 we were in Nashville TN, of all places, and hired a young couple to babysit. The woman told me very earnestly that she did not discriminate against children, and therefore called them ‘small persons’.”

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29TH ANNUAL WHALE RUN & WALK. Fort Bragg, Saturday, March 16, 2013. One of the most beautiful fun runs in the whole world Join the fun and run with the whales on the Fort Bragg scenic Haul Road along the beautiful Pacific in Fort Bragg, California. 7:40 am ~ Kiddie Race! One quarter to one half mile, depending on age. 8:00 am ~ Main Races (10K Run, 5K Run, 5K Fun Walk) Start & Finish West Laurel Street, Fort Bragg, California The 29th Annual Whale Run and Walk starts and finishes in the heart of Fort Bragg in the Skunk Train parking lot. It is an out and back race. Race participants start in the Skunk Train parking lot heading north. Participants will run north to Pine Street turning left on Pine Street. ~ Pine Street to Stewart Street, turning right on Stewart Street. ~ Stewart Street to Elm Street, turning left on Elm Street. ~ Elm Street to Glass Beach Drive, turning right. Runners/Walkers will proceed the length of Glass Beach Drive and cross the Pudding Creek Trestle onto the Haul Road. 5K Runners/Walkers will proceed to the 5K turn-around and return via the same route back to the Skunk Train parking lot. 10K Runners will proceed to the 10K turn-around and return to the Skunk Train parking lot via the same route. The course first cuts across coastal prairie studded with wildflowers; sandstone bluffs alternate with beaches and pooling stream-mouths, all flush with waterfowl. Over 700 people came last year – over half of them were from out of town. Spectacular sea and sky vistas, the freshest ocean breeze anywhere, and an occasional offshore spout make this year’s the classic Whale Run course. The race is sponsored by Soroptimist International of Fort Bragg to raise funds to improve the lives of women and girls in our communities, our nation, and the world. Early registration guarantees you a T-shirt! For registration forms, course map, and all other information, go to: www.soroptimistfortbraggca.org/SIFB/whalerun.html Register at: http://soroptimistfortbraggca.org/register.pdf Photos from 2012: http://www.soroptimistfortbraggca.org/whalerunfolder/WR_pics_2012-1.html Course map: http://www.soroptimistfortbraggca.org/wrmap.jpg You can also get to our site by Googling “Whale Run.” For more information contact Joyce Gilbertson at 707-962-0211 (Tel) 707-888‐8748 (cell) or email whalerun@mcn.org (email) or Pony Express (US Mail): Whale Run, P O Box 131, Fort Bragg, CA 95437 Register By March 1st to ensure a T-Shirt! For more information, please contact us at sifb@mcn.org Photos, map jpeg or pdf, interviews, and additional information available upon request. Contact Joyce at 707-962-0211 mail: Whale Run, P O Box 131, Fort Bragg, CA 95437

One Response to Mendocino County Today: January 26, 2013

  1. James Marmon Reply

    January 26, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Monica needs to take caution that she is not targeted as a trouble making. I was placed on paid administrative leave for 4 months in 2010 for speaking out about mold. Of course, I am a known trouble maker which may explain Ms. Cryer’s distain for me. Her last action against me cost the county an additional $50,000.00, after the State Personnel Board (SPB) determined that she had violated my due process clause of the 14th amendment because she was not a reasonably uninvolved and impartial Skelly hearing officer. The SPB determined that she definitely had a bias against me, go figure.

    Mold inspections begin in county buildingBy TIFFANY REVELLE The Daily Journalukiahdailyjournal.com
    Posted: 07/20/2010 12:00:19 AM PDT

    A county employee who spoke up about a mold problem in the Mendocino County Social Services building on South State Street in Ukiah was put on administrative leave the day after a meeting held to inform employees about the problem.

    James Marmon, who has been a social worker with Mendocino County for three-and-a-half years, said he was escorted out of his office at 8 a.m. the day after the meeting.

    “I asked how long they knew about (the mold problem),” Marmon said of his participation in the meeting.

    State health inspectors started inspecting the county building Monday after a county employee complained about the mold problem in late June, according to Krissann Chasarik, spokeswoman for the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health, known as Cal/OSHA.

    The complaint triggered a process that began with letters exchanged between the county and Cal/OSHA and escalated to inspection when the same employee recently reported the steps the county took to correct the problem weren’t adequate.

    Marmon said at the July 14 employee meeting to discuss the mold, he asked whether the county had looked behind the sheet rock in the areas concerned.

    Chasarik said the original complaint said water had leaked in through the roof during the spring rain and caused mold to grow under the carpet beneath.

    Marmon said the building leaked before he started working there in 2007, and has poor ventilation. The floor mat under his desk and some of his colleagues’ floor mats had

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    red Xs on them for weeks before the county told them why, he said.
    The county didn’t tell Marmon why he was placed on paid administrative leave, according to a retaliation complaint Marmon filed with the state Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

    Marmon wrote he was “only told that I was under investigation.” He continued, “It is a means of intimidation to stop me from testifying and leading others to testify.”

    The county was also investigating a separate harassment complaint Marmon made, but letters he received concerning that complaint imply Marmon isn’t under investigation.

    Marmon said he had been experiencing extreme fatigue in recent weeks, and knew of several other employees who had experienced health problems.

    “It’s like the walking wounded in there,” he said. “The employees are disgusted.”

    Marmon said when he brought up prior complaints about the ventilation and mold during the July 14 meeting, he was told there had been no other complaints.

    Jacqueline Carvallo of SEIU Local 1021 said the union is aware of the mold problem, and confirmed several county employees in the building have filed workers’ compensation claims.

    “There have been respiratory concerns, and one employee complained of nose bleeds,” Carvallo said.

    She said the county Buildings and Grounds Division was monitoring air quality and shampooing the carpets.

    “The original complaints may have been marginalized,” she said. “Until someone takes a stand you sometimes don’t realize how severe the problem is.”

    Cal/OSHA’s investigation continues, according to Chasarik. The results are expected after the inspection concludes later in the week, she said.

    Cal/OSHA enforces state workplace safety laws. If the state inspectors find mold, they could take actions ranging from ordering the county to correct the problem to shutting down the area if it’s deemed an imminent hazard, Chasarik said.

    According to the Cal/OSHA website, mold reproduces through the production of spores, tiny, airborne cells that settle on moist places.

    If mold colonies proliferate indoors, they can cause symptoms including allergic reactions, breathing problems, lung infections and possibly kidney and liver damage in cases of toxic molds.

    No one at the county Social Services Department or the county Human Resources Department returned phone calls on this issue.

    Tiffany Revelle can be reached at udjtr@pacific.net, or at 468-3523

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