Mendocino County Today: July 17, 2013

by AVA News Service, July 16, 2013

A CALLER noticed a full pallet of ammonium phosphate at Friedman Brothers, Ukiah, with a note attached that said, “Special Order, Mateel Community Center.” Why would the Mateel want golf course (and/or bomb making) chemicals? We called the Mateel to find out if they'd ordered it, and if they had, why. Sports stadiums use this stuff to green up their grass, but it's bad mojo, as Ashley, the pleasant young woman who answered the phone at the Mateel agreed. “It's like gnarly stuff,” Ashley said, before assuring me that she'd call the Mateel's plant manager, Johnny, and get back to me. She didn't. Yet. And probably won't. But we've learned that the Mateel is using this "gnarly" brew to make the grass green in the concert bowl smack on the battered Eel River, just in time for their revived Reggae on the River. Years ago we complained that the Mateel, cynosure of everything good and organically pure in a poisoned America, had made its front door out of rare and mostly extinct hardwoods. But using this stuff anywhere near the Eel borders on criminal irresponsibility.

MateelBags

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MENDOCINO COAST TELEVISION has been forced to cease operations. It was an important, sometimes pivotal, public media for many years, bringing public meetings into the livingrooms of Coast residents in the Fort Bragg-Mendocino area plus a wide range of cultural offerings. The station's directors have announced that Coast Television lost a lawsuit filed by the Footlighters little theater group on whose premises Coast TV was located. Without a home and in hock to lawyers, there was no option other than to go dark.post

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ODD CONTRETEMPS during public comment on non-agenda items at this morning's (Tuesday, July 16th) Supervisor's meeting, when John Sakowicz rose to, ah, expand upon the City of Ukiah's overly effusive goodbyes for Mari Rodin and Gordon Elton. Supervisor McCowen objected to Sako's remarks a couple of sentences in and Board Chair Hamburg told Sako to sit down.

SUPERVISOR PINCHES said it was unprecedented in his ten years on the Board of Supervisors that any member of the public had been censored for any reason, or for speaking on any topic, during the public comments part of the Board meeting for non-agenda items.

HAMBURG then asked his buddy and tax paid gofer, County Counsel Tom Parker, for a legal opinion. Parker duly opined that Sako could indeed be silenced if he wasn't speaking on County business. But the City of Ukiah's finances are directly related to County business; the City is presently suing the County over the collection and distribution of taxes by the County Auditor.

THANKING PARKER for the legal opinion he knew he'd get, Hamburg informed Sako he was “out of order” and told him to sit down.

MOST PLACES, censoring or silencing the public, much less the press, raises fundamental constitutional issues. Among other things, it's a violation of the Brown Act. Sako is both a member of the public and a media guy via his reporting on financial matters for KZYX. He's done some excellent reporting on the deteriorating finances of the City of Ukiah on his “All About The Money” program for the County's public radio station.

THE CITY OF UKIAH has been running a $1 million budget deficit for the last two years. The City of Ukiah has not adjusted to the realities of Redevelopment money going away. If the City files for bankruptcy, then it's a County problem, too.

IF UKIAH hasn't put away the money into an enterprise fund to close the Vichy Springs landfill — it stopped accepting refuse in 2001, and sits in an earthquake zone and in a watershed area; and it may soon incur big fines and penalties by California's environmental regulatory agencies, i.e. CalRecyle — then the County may have to bail out the City. EPA issues, for example, particularity water pollution issues, could supersede city jurisdiction.

AND UKIAH may soon default on the bonds used to pay for a $56.5 million sewer plant. The credit rating agency, S&P, downgraded these bonds by two steps last year. What happens at the County level if the City defaults on these bonds.

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NORTH COAST HONOR FLIGHT

In 2004, a World War II Memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC. It is a stunning tribute to our men and women in the armed services. Unfortunately, most of our World War II veterans have never had the opportunity to see what was erected in their honor. The youngest of our WWII veteran is 87. The mission of Honor Flight is to transport America's veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials at no cost, with current priority to WWII Veterans. Subsequent to the World War II Veterans, efforts then focus on Korean War Veterans followed by Vietnam War Veterans, honoring them both in a similar manner. Guardians, whose travel expenses are not paid for, accompany each Veteran to ensure safe travel. The program sweeps the nation but with the help of the Humboldt County Chapter and Gregg Gardiner this amazing program is coming to Mendocino County through the South Ukiah Rotary. We need to find these WWII veterans, If you are a WWII veteran or you know of a WWII veteran who resides in Mendocino County and is able to travel and has yet to see the memorial please contact 462-3555. Or visit www.southukiahrotary.org for an application. For the October 2013 trip we have room for 50 World War II and Korean War veterans and 35 guardians. The guardians pay their own way, and the cost to them is $1,000. If you would like to be a guardian please call or submit an application. Tom Brokaw had it right when he entitled his recent book “The Greatest Generation”. Never has so much been asked for by any one generation in our history. Any sized contribution can be made payable to North Coast Honor Flight and dropped off at Umpqua Bank in Ukiah, CA

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NINTH ANNUAL PURE MENDOCINO

Ukiah, CA – The Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County (CRCMC) are gearing up for the ninth annual Pure Mendocino event. The organic, locally sourced dinner will be held Saturday, August 24 at Paul Dolan’s biodynamic Dark Horse Ranch located on Old River Road. The event features an opening reception with wine tasting and a silent auction at 5 pm, a farm-to-table dinner at 6:00 pm, and live music from 7:30 – 10 pm. A limited number of pre-sold tickets will also be available for the biodynamic farm tour before the event at 4 pm. Pure Mendocino is the biggest fundraiser of the year for CRCMC and according to Executive Director Sara O’Donnell, “One hundred percent of all funds raised for the Cancer Resource Centers are used to provide ongoing services at no cost to those facing cancer in Mendocino County.” Chef Olan Cox of Mendough’s Catering and Wood Fired Catering will lead a team of chefs to prepare this year’s meal, and silent auction items feature vacation rentals (at local B&Bs and in Tahoe), picnics at local wineries, handcrafted furniture, yoga lessons, and more. After dinner, dance the night away to live music by blues legend Rick Estrin and the Nightcats. Estrin serves up fresh and modern original blues injected with a solid dose of gritty roadhouse rock ‘n’ roll. The Nightcats include jaw-dropping guitarist Chris “Kid” Andersen, singing drummer J. Hansen, and dynamic multi-instrumentalist Lorenzo Farrell (electric and acoustic bass, organ and piano). CRCMC provides cancer support services to patients and their families free of charge, including help with navigating our complicated medical system, assistance with deciding which treatment is right for each individual, preparing for medical appointments, attending and recording medical appointments, and offering a lending library full of excellent resources. CRCMC also offers support groups. For more information, visit crcmendocino.org. To date, major sponsors of Pure Mendocino include Frey Vineyards, Dark Horse Farming Company, Fetzer Vineyards, Golden Vineyards, Westport Hotel, Ukiah Valley Medical Center, and more. Tickets are $135 each and must be purchased in advance—they’re available online at puremendocino.org or at the CRCMC Offices (inland at 590 S. Dora St, Ukiah or on the coast at 45040 Calpella St, Mendocino). For more information call 937-3833 or 467-3828.

4 Responses to Mendocino County Today: July 17, 2013

  1. Karen Reply

    July 17, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    I don’t think bomb making chemicals are for greener grass. I think it’s more about the grand plan. Which, of course, includes that hole area in Agenda 21. Related to importing Russian and Chinese soldiers to our coasts for our military to train? Me thinks so. Hold on folks!

  2. John Sakowicz Reply

    July 17, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Thank you for posting today about BOS Chair Dan Hamburg’s violation of my right to free speech during yesterday’s BOS meeting (July 16). The violation occurred at the very beginning of the meeting reserved for public comment on non-agenda issues.

    I found the incident to be deeply humiliating. It was a public humiliation.

    If I fight Chair Hamburg’s decision to censor and silence me, let me be crystal clear about what I would be fighting for. I wouldn’t be fighting because my feelings were hurt.. I would be fighting for a principle. A very high principle. And that principle is free speech — the public’s right to free speech without “content restrictions” at public forums.

    If I go forward with filing a lawsuit, it’s because I so passionately believe in the public’s right to free speech at public forums, particularly Brown Act meetings, i.e., Board of Supervisors meetings.

    In speaking with a friend who has done pro bono work on free speech rights, the public’s rights to free speech at public meetings — including the rights the press — have been consistently upheld in federal court. Federal circuit courts in various jurisdictions have held that boards may not put “content restrictions” on public comment for non-agenda issues.

    All across the country, county boards, city councils, school boards, planning commissions, and other public bodies provide time for members of the public to speak at their meetings. Sometimes the comments are relevant and persuasive, sometimes no one from the public shows up, and sometimes officials are besieged by hostile gadflies who seize the platform to create a spectacle. Officials concerned about such abuse are allowed to quiet speakers if their comments would derail a meeting. However, such power is limited to quelling speech that is disruptive, not merely disfavored.

    Public forum doctrine relies heavily on history and tradition. A location is deemed a “traditional public forum” or a “general public forum” and given the highest level of First Amendment protection when it has “immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public, and, time out of mind, [has] been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions.” [1] Strict scrutiny applies to any content-based speech restriction in these locations.[2] At the opposite end of the spectrum is the “nonpublic forum.” There is no tradition of speech in nonpublic forums, and the government has not opened them up to expressive activity. [3] Speech restrictions in such locales are held to the minimum standard of constitutional review: they need only be reasonable and viewpoint neutral .[4]

    The free speech purpose of public meetings with citizen comment periods is inextricably linked to the government business interest. In City of Madison Joint School District v. Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, [5] the Supreme Court recognized the dual function of such public meetings “to conduct public business and hear the views of citizens.” [6]

    Moreover, the latter role of public meetings is arguably more important than it has ever been. Government observers widely believe that the growing influx of campaign money and lobbying in municipal government has created alienation and apathy by making it more difficult for ordinary citizens to participate in local politics. [7]

    For those who cannot afford campaign contributions or lobbyists, public meetings may be the only opportunity to speak face-to-face to elected officials and to try to influence their votes on matters of pressing importance. This modern reality of political engagement in American cities should take precedence over any sense that public meetings lack the same historical foundation as sidewalks and parks as venues for core political speech.

    Unlike judges’ tight control of courtroom proceedings, it is customary for local government meetings to include a wide range of commentary from members of the public. [8] Those who show up to take advantage of such openness tend not to be ordinary citizens engaged in a particular issue but city hall fixtures enraged about every issue. Their comments can be insightful but are just as often rambling, profane, or cruel. Indeed, the city hall gadfly has become a familiar archetype.

    Even when they are rational, these speakers can be irritating to public officials, but yet their speech is protected by law. The only “content restrictions” that the courts have held allowable was regarding speech that is disruptive. Speakers may not rant, sing, dance, shout, or use ethnic slurs during public comment on non-agenda items, but otherwise, speech is protected.

    Finally, people attending a county board meetings or city council meeting are entering into a public place where some discussion of political issues, perhaps even some heated and offensive discussion, is expected. [9] Jurisdictions have other, less-intrusive remedies available to try to shield members of the public from offensive speech, such as posting warnings and disclaimers. They can also place general comment periods at the end of meetings so spectators interested in a particular agenda item could leave before the floor is opened up for more open-ended and potentially offensive speech. [10]

    Here in Mendocino County, we have decided that public comment on non-agenda items at the beginning of Board of Supervisors meetings is the time and place for that open-ended speech without content restriction.

    Be that as it may, Chair Hamburg did not even apply the same standard to me that he applied to members of the public speaking on non-agenda issues. He held me to a different standard, a tougher standard. In the past, members of the public have spoken on global warming, genetically modified foods, the legalization of marijuana, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many other issues unrelated to country business. I simply wanted to talk about some of the serious financial issues facing the City of Ukiah, which is, of course, Mendocino County’s county seat. These issues were created, in part, by the retiring city finance director, and by a member of the city council who recently resigned, both of whom are now receiving glowing official proclamations for their “contributions”..

    Instead of letting me speak, Chair Hamburg instead elected to censor and silence me, ruling that I was “out of order.” As Supervisor Pinches pointed out, Hamburg’s action was “unprecedented”, as it may expose the county to significant litigation.

    Again, on a personal note, I felt deeply and publicly humiliated by Hamburg’s action.

    Case Notes
    [1]. Perry Educ. Ass’n v. Perry Local Educators’ Ass’n, 460 U.S. 37, 45 (1983) (quoting Hague v. Comm. for Indus. Org., 307 U.S. 496, 515 (1939)).

    [2]. Id. at 45 (“For the State to enforce a content-based exclusion, it must show that its regula­tion is necessary to serve a compelling state interest and that it is narrowly drawn to achieve that end.”).

    [3]. See, e.g., Lee, 505 U.S. 672 (airport terminal); Greer v. Spock, 424 U.S. 828 (1976) (military base); Lehman v. City of Shaker Heights, 418 U.S. 298 (1974) (exterior of a city bus).

    [4]. See Lee, 505 U.S. at 679.

    [5]. 429 U.S. 167 (1976).

    [6]. Id. at 176.

    [7]. See, e.g., Matthew J. Parlow, Civic Republicanism, Public Choice Theory, and Neighborhood Councils: A New Model for Civic Engagement, 79 U. Colo. L. Rev. 137, 138–40 (2008) (discussing different theories of how “an insiders’ game controlled by dominant interest groups” has come to define local politics in many areas).

    [8]. Compare Goldschmidt, supra note 63, at 54 (identifying a broad range of “decorum” rules in U.S. courtrooms that have free speech implications), withWilson & Alcarez, supra note 47, at 580 (provid­ing an overview of legal controversies surrounding public comment periods at local government meetings).

    [9]. See generally Jona Goldschmidt, “Order in the Court!”: Constitutional Issues in the Law of Courtroom Decorum, 31 Hamline L. Rev. 1 (2008) (providing an overview of courtroom decorum rules and related case law and concluding that even many of the regulations in courtroom decorum raise First Amendment and due process concerns). And in fact, while citizens may likely be attending county board or city council or school board because official business personally affects them, they are not likely to be present under official compulsion like many of the people at a courthouse proceeding. And yet the Court in Cohen did not find the free speech interest to be outweighed by the courthouse spectators’ interest in not being offended. See Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15, 21–22 (1971)

    [10]. If the city tried to enact a blanket ban on Nazi salutes, for example, or other such offensive gestures, it would likely run afoul of prohibitions on viewpoint discrimination. SeeR.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377 (1992). However, narrow bans on profanity or speech likely to cause imminent violence might pass constitutional muster. See Fed. Commc’ns Comm’n v. Pacifica Found., 438 U.S. 726 (1978); Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969).

  3. chewsome Reply

    July 17, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Mendocino Board of Supervisors chambers meeting room was designed to minimize the amount of sunlight available to the public in attendance later in the day, which distracted and distances creative problem solving and decision making.

    However the second framing boxed area in the ceiling directly over the audience chairs, appears to easily be modified to accept windows, so the concerned public could be not left wilting under artificial lighting.

    Look what happened to the City of Ukiah. Thirty years ago, it was a very diversified city in terms of municipal owned utilities infrastructure and reserves of wealth. That was when the City Council met in rooms that had natural day lighting.
    Now the City Council Chambers and the Ukiah Valley Convention Center, are hell holes of meeting darkness, and the City is in endless debt.

    It has been long established that children learn better with class rooms that have a certain amount of day light available. Are adults and meetings of public government, any different? No.

    What is different in the state of California is, I believe it was the Republican administration of Governor Pete Wilson, where the demonstrated state policy was to build public body meeting rooms with no natural light. (check with the construction date of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board public meeting room in Santa Rosa)

    Contrast that with government meeting rooms built under Democratic administrations. The idea with rooms of artificial or limited natural light, is to more easily manipulate adversely the decision making process and discourage inspiration and sound judgement health of the public volunteering to attend public government. Public participation becomes a burden and not so nice place to be, under light bulbs.

    Lake County, Sonoma County, and County of San Francisco meeting room chambers of the respective Board of Supervisors, among other counties, are enlightening designed structures, which allow daylight to enter which gives some appreciation to participatory government.

  4. chewsome Reply

    July 17, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    ERROR ALERT!

    > full pallet of ammonium phosphate

    AVA needs to LOOK at the photo. It is Ammonium Sulfate.

    AND, WHY isn’t the Mateel Community Center collecting human male urine at its concert venue, and storing the liquid under seal for a year to reduce any trace pathogens to non- detectable, and then using this liquid gold, which consists of 80% of the nitrogen and 50% of the phosphate excreted from the body?

    People are being force fed fluoride poison in municipal water systems, and children are over injesting toxics from fluoride toothpaste, because its cheap for the polluting industries that process phosphate, to dispose it in this way, but ruins people’s intelligence and bone structure and is potent cancer agent.

    And then back to the holier than thou Mateel Community Center, to get an all a round balanced NPK liquid fertilizer from the aged male urine brew stored without water, why are not potassium additives of certain plant friendly potassium based soaps added just before dilution and agronomic application, which would have the Mateel walking, or rather, peeing the talk of being earth friendly on the sunny side for some gnarly concert greens.

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