Mendocino County Today: July 31, 2013
by AVA News Service, July 31, 2013
THIS JUST IN: Coast fishermen report lots of big salmon but ominously few little salmon. No babies would seem to mean that good as this salmon season is, next year's probably won't be very good at all.
THE ANDERSON VALLEY Community Services District will host a budget presentation by the County's CEO, Carmel Angelo, and deputy CEO, Kyle Knopp, at the Boonville Fairgrounds Dining Hall, Wednesday, August 21, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The presentation is the fourth in a series of five presentations that will be delivered in each supervisorial district before the County’s Final Budget hearings, which begin on September 9th.
IN FULL PRESS RELEASE MODE, the County CEO's office elicited this orphic statement from 5th District Supervisor Hamburg: “We appreciate the Fifth District holding the budget presentation in Anderson Valley and encourage everyone to attend so they can ask about Anderson Valley issues.” (Huh?)
“THE PRESENTATION will include highlights of the County’s 2013/2014 Recommended Budget, a State of the County update, and items of interest to the Fifth District. The intent of these presentations is to inform the audience of the workings of County government and to provide a high level of transparency and accountability to all Mendocino County residents. It is hoped that those interested in performing their civic duty will continue to stay engaged in the workings of local government.”
OH, PLEASE. The true state of County finances can be summed up in one word — precarious. Like municipalities everywhere, our local government has, over the years, obligated itself to much more than it can now pay for and, of course, its budgets are written in a way impenetrable by mere citizens, hence these occasional traveling propaganda shows. The current crop of supervisors, the best overall in many years, has kept the SS Mendo afloat mostly by lopping off line workers and not filling job vacancies. In our opinion, however, there remain a series of indefensible expenditures and positions — beginning with for instance, now that they bring it up, the Assistant CEO position. Then there's the Wellness office, the entire travel and conference budget, the Promotional Alliance, most of the lawyers in the County Counsel's office, administrators paid far above what is rational, and on and on.
SUPERVISOR HAMBURG himself has added to the County's debt burden by suing the County he serves. He thinks the taxpayers should fund the lawsuit he caused by failing to bury his late wife in accordance with existing law. He won't win the suit but the County will have to spend lots of money defending itself.
COINCIDENTALLY, this presentation by the County's leadership occurs on the same day and at the same time as the next CSD meeting, so the sponsors will be able to do no more than make perfunctory introductions and then return to their own meeting across the street. We predict the CEO's Boonville appearance will draw exactly two people — Gene Herr and Barbara Goodell. The only other likely attendee, Major Mark Scaramella, USAF ret., will be across the street at the CSD meeting. Mail it in, Carmel.
HANKS SIMS writes: “You guys have the Humboldt Bay Harbor District all backwards. They didn't spend $250,000 to rally for east-west rail. They spent $20,000 — less than a tenth of the figure you reported — in the hope that a very cursory look at what such a thing might actually cost would dampen the spirits of the people who lobby them incessantly to hop about the crazy train.Their small report showed just that — that you could expect a new east-west rail line to cost one billion minimum, before you even get to the necessary harbor improvements, and that the market the rail would serve would be very small. But of course, the train evangelists are barely slowed by such things as facts or numbers. They simply say that the Harbor District has been captured by the forces of evil, and therefore their consultant is not to be trusted. In any case: The district is on the other side of the issue. The sane side.”
CENSORSHIP BEYOND WALGREENS
Letter to the Editor:
While your criticism of Walgreens for refusing to carry the "bomber" issue of the Rolling Stones Magazine is accurate and justified, it doesn't even scratch the surface of how insidious the problem is. In fact, one cannot buy a copy of that issue of the magazine ANYWHERE in the entire city of San Francisco! City Lights doesn't carry it, Green Apple doesn't carry it — it has been banned from distribution throughout SF. From now on, bookstores and magazine distribution centers should obtain a rubber stamp that reads “Approved by Homeland Security” before allowing a gullible public access to “unpatriotic” literature. I expect that there will be broad bipartisan support for such censorship from the charlatans who inhabit Congress.
— Luke Hiken, Berkeley
THE CITY OF UKIAH'S TAX SHARING WORKSHOP on Monday night, as predicted, was an exercise in mind numbing trivia and ritual finger pointing between city and County officials who, along with a long list of their predecessors, have made second careers out of meeting and talking about a tax sharing agreement without ever actually coming to an agreement. The meeting opened with a lengthy presentation by city staff, complete with Power Point, that was intended to show that the County already gets too much money and that the draft agreement negotiated over the last several years was really a bad deal for the city. Why? Because the city needs money to pay for services for its residents. The County isn't under comparable pressure to provide services in a tough economic environment? In fact, the County has done a lot better job in recent years of providing services and balanced budgets while building up reserves. The City Council is unable to control its budget and is burning through its reserves by running annual million dollar deficits.
DURING DISCUSSION by the City Council, Mari Rodin and Phil Baldwin declared that the current City-County draft agreement, which provided for a 50-50 split of future sales tax was a bad deal for the city and that 60% city and 40% county would be much fairer. Mayor Doug Crane pointed out that the 50-50 split had been agreed to years ago when he served on the ad hoc committee that had agreed to it. Crane suggested the deal still had merit. There was very little discussion of the so-called Costco Addendum which seemingly guarantees that the City of Ukiah will get all of the Costco sales tax revenue for the next generation. This is apparently necessary to pay back the city general fund for the cost of infrastructure improvements extorted by Costco as its price for deigning to do business with the Ukiah city limits. (Ukiah also seems to think a Costco alongside 101 won't present major traffic problems; the present big box array in the neighborhood often causes mini-jams. Costco will add immeasurably to the current traffic.)
MARI RODIN was the unintended scene stealer of the evening when she denied having any memory of attending a joint meeting of the ad hoc committees on December 17. Phil "Red Phil" Baldwin also was overcome by a sudden amnesia. He also had no memory of attending a meeting on December 17, but said it didn't really matter because ad hocs are not able to reach agreements anyway. The City Attorney and City Manger also did not seem to remember a meeting on December 17. The city staff report for the meeting said the last meeting was on December 6. Shades of Rosemary Woods and the Nixon Tapes.
COUNTY CEO CARMEL ANGELO was first up to the podium when the meeting was opened for public comment. Angelo confirmed that the last meeting of the ad hoc committees and staff was indeed held on December 17, and then read a confirming letter into the record. Angelo said it was unfortunate that the City was changing its position on the 50-50 split, which she described as a major shift and said the 50-50 split had been agreed to in 2008. Angelo also said the financial analysis provided by the City of Ukiah was not based on real numbers but the County was ready to come back to the table anyway.
COUNTY COUNSEL TOM PARKER read a memo describing the outline of the agreement as it existed at the December 6 meeting and the outcome of the infamous December 17 meeting now the subject of collective amnesia by the city participants. Parker said the December 6 meeting had been held at the County offices and the December 17 meeting had been held at City Hall — home and home as exchanges of home fields are called in the sports world. Parker also attached to his memo what he said was a transcript of his notes from the December 6 and December 17 meetings. By now it was looking like there really had been a meeting on December 17.
SUPERVISOR JOHN MCCOWEN was next up to say that he also had attended the December 17 meeting. McCowen referred to his long history of serving on the city and County ad hoc committees, and emphasized that it was important to refocus on the public interest in order to reach agreement. Not surprisingly, McCowen also came down in favor of a 50-50 split. By now the audience was probably wondering how none of the city participants could remember attending a meeting that the County participants were sure had taken place.
SUPERVISOR PINCHES spoke up later in the meeting to say that he supported a tax sharing agreement as long as it was fair. He questioned why it was taking so long and said he thought he and Phil Baldwin could easily reach agreement. Pinches, doing an on-the-spot rewrite of local history, also said the County had turned Costco away, which provoked Baldwin to say that the voters had slam dunked Costco and the whole DDR mega mall by defeating Measure A by a 70%-30% margin. Unspoken was the draft letter put on the County agenda for Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting where Pinches is asking his colleagues to sign off on a letter to Costco saying that the County "is supportive of rezoning the DDR property [Masonite] for Costco or any other retail outlets or housing developments that could be located at this site."
FOLLOWING PUBLIC COMMENT, and additional rhetorical flailing around by the City Council — councilperson Rodin seems to suffer a pronounced case of attention deficit disorder — as the meeting slowly spiraled down to an inconclusive ending. Score one for the County, at least in terms of credibility. Despite not relying on a Powerpoint (a sure sign the speaker is about to try and put one over on the rubes) the County CEO and County Counsel were well prepared with remarks that were to the point and delivered without the kind of circular and self-canceling rhetoric often practiced by the City Council. And no one in Mendo public life can match Supervisor Pinches for getting straight to the point. But as of today, Costco is apparently in line to be plunked down within the Ukiah city limits. But if Pinches has his way, Costco will soon be getting a letter from the County with an updated version of "Let's Make A Deal."
FROM THIS WEEK’S CEO REPORT presented to the Board of Supervisors from County CEO Carmel Angelo.
• Selection of Forester for the Little River Timber Harvest: The County’s contractor is now working with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and CalFire on compliance with state and federal laws. At this point in time, the County is on track to harvest timber in August of 2014.
Date: July 17, 2013
To: Honorable Board of Supervisors
From: Kristin McMenomey, GSA Director
Subject: Little River Timber Harvest
The Board of Supervisors directed the Little River Timber Harvest be referred to the CEO’s office for a potential harvest in 2013. The direction from the Board was to have the CEO bring back the item to the full Board to hear Mr. Greg Guisti give his expertise on the subject. Due to Mr. Guisti’s availability (he was out of the Country for three months) to make such a presentation as well as the availability of the Board’s calendar at the end of the year, the decision was made to move forward with an RFQ to get the process started and the CEO would utilize her CEO Report to keep the Board of Supervisors updated.
The General Services Agency (GSA) received this project on November 7, 2012 and immediately met with Greg Guisti and Steve Dunnicliff (previous project coordinator) to obtain an update on the status of the Harvest. GSA began work with Greg Guisti to create a Request for Qualifications for a Forester so as to hopefully begin a harvest in 2013. GSA issued the RFQ on April 5, 2013 and a contract was executed on June 24, 2013. Timber Harvest Status Subsequent to the contract being executed, the forester immediately began contacting the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (USFWS) and CalFire to determine whether or not these agencies would accept the following previous studies completed on the site:
• Marbled Murrelet (MAMU) surveys completed in 2008 and 2009
• Northern Spotted Owl surveys completed by MRC in 2010- 013
On July 10th, the forester and a consulting wildlife biologist met with DFW to make the case that no additional Marbled Murrelet surveys were necessary. DFW was willing to not require additional surveys, however they wanted the County to designate 5 to 6 acres as a no-cut area and establish a 300-foot buffer, constituting a total of 8 acres, in which harvesting would need to be approved by DFW. (This position was based on a site visit conducted by DFW staff in 2007.)
A total of 14 acres of the property would likely be impacted, representing 25% of the NTMP area and 30% of the Redwood-Douglas-Fir stand. This could potentially result in a major impact on the amount of timber that could be harvested and the income that could be generated for the County. The decision was made to conduct two years of surveys (this year and next year) which should enable the County to harvest greater levels of timber in 2014 or potentially sell the rights to this timber to an organization like Save-The-Redwoods League — something that Linda Perkins from the Sierra Club has proposed. One survey has been completed to date and the other three will be completed by the end of this month.
The USFWS and CalFire also require nonindustrial landowners to conduct six Northern Spotted Owl surveys for two years in a row. However, MRC conducted three surveys this year on its property adjacent to the airport. The Forester was able to get the USFWS to agree to another three surveys this year, plus three surveys next year, assuming that MRC conducts three surveys next year as well. One survey was completed on July 15th, and two others are scheduled to occur by the end of the month.
The Forester also met on July 15th with CalFire staff to review the Nonindustrial Timber Management Plan and discuss required amendments to the NTMP. As a result of this meeting, the Forester has a clear idea of how to expeditiously amend the NTMP. On the same day, he also met with Tom Peters of the Department of Transportation (DOT) to discuss FAA requirements for clearing, the potential conflict of selling timber rights relative to FAA requirements, and the availability of bridge and culvert material that might be used on the truck road in the NTMP harvest area.
Taking all of the above into consideration, the County is aggressively pursuing its option to harvest as soon as possible given the constraints of the various State and Federal agencies.
Depending on upon the results of the surveys, it is anticipated that the County would have the ability to harvest timber in August of 2014. This would require GSA to embark upon the process of obtaining bids from loggers with a potential bid launch sometime in February/March of 2014.
It should also be noted that deferring of the timber harvest until 2014 makes sense for two important reasons: 1) The mill price for Redwood will likely be better next year, as the current market is close to saturation; and 2) The County will be able to solicit bids from the best loggers in the area, many of whom are now committed to other jobs.
* * *
• County of Mendocino and City of Ukiah Tax Sharing: The County of Mendocino is waiting to hear from the City of Ukiah regarding tax sharing between the two government entities. The County has provided the City with potential dates in the months of July, August, and September of 2013 for a public meeting between the two elected bodies to pick up tax sharing discussions where they left off back in December of 2012. The Ukiah City Council is holding a special workshop on Monday, July 29 to review the information presented by City Attorney David Rapport on this topic, and is expected to follow up with the County from that meeting for dates that are workable to meet with the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors;
• Project Update: Feasibility Study for Ambulance Service Exclusive Operating Area: The consultant’s report will be uploaded to the project website for Board and public review this week at:
• Following release of the report, the project team will conduct a conference call to determine the next steps in consideration of the report findings and recommendations. Based on the depth and breadth of the project analysis, and the corresponding findings and recommendations, the Project Team has three preliminary options for Board consideration/facilitation of report presentation: 1) Activate the Board Standing Committee (HHS, Supervisors McCowen and Gjerde); 2) Form a Board Ad Hoc Committee (Comprising two Supervisors); or 3) Direct staff to coordinate a Board Workshop to facilitate presentation of the report to the full Board and determination of next steps;
• Off-Site Board Meeting on August 13: On August 13, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors will meet at the Fort Bragg Town Hall to discuss, among other items of business, two high-profile items. The first item is the Westport Municipal Advisory Council appeal to the Board of Supervisors of a County Permit Administrator decision to allow California State Parks to create new sand dunes from a portion of 10-Mile Beach Trail, known as Haul Road. The second major topic of discussion is the location for a new commercial transfer station in the coastal area of the County. The Board of Supervisors will be presented with two options for a location, the first being the Caspar landfill site, and the second being a portion of the Jackson State Demonstration Forest off of Highway 20. The public is encouraged to attend this meeting on August 13 if they would like to learn more about these two items;
• 2013-14 Budget Report: The Recommended Budget has been published and is available on the County website. Staff request that each Department review their section and advise the Executive Office of any errors in their narrative or other information. All adjustments or corrections identified after the Recommended Budget was approved will be reflected in the Final Budget. The Auditor is working on the year-end closeout process for FY 2012-2013. Executive Office staff are monitoring the process and gathering information that may affect the 2013-2014 Final Budget.
• Draft RFP Released for $500M in State Assistance for Local Jail Construction: The California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) released the final draft SB 1022 Request for Proposal (RFP). SB 1022 will provide $500 million in bond funding for adult detention facility construction and renovation. The purpose of the RFP is to establish conditional awardees and allocate financing as authorized by SB 1022 for the construction of adult local criminal justice facilities. This legislation provides up to $500,000,000 in state lease-revenue bond financing authority for acquisition, design and construction, including expansion or renovation, of adult local criminal justice facilities in California. The BSCC will hold a bidders conference on August 12 from 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM in West Sacramento at the State Department of General Services. Both CSAC and RCRC urge counties with an interest in the RFP process to attend the bidders’ conference in person. Project proposals will be due to the BSCC on October 24;
• State Responsibility Area Fee Bills Being Mailed August 22-26, 2013: CalFire and the California State Board of Equalization (BOE) have recently announced the 2013 State Responsibility Area (SRA) fee bill schedule, with the first round of bills being mailed in alphabetical order by county. Bills are scheduled to be mailed to Mendocino County residents August 22-26, 2013. The mailing schedule is available at:
BRADLEY MANNING has been acquitted of aiding the enemy, but was convicted of espionage, theft and other charges Tuesday, more than three years after he dispatched alleged secrets to WikiLeaks. The judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, deliberated for about 16 hours over what is essentially a whistleblower case since America is not involved in any legally declared wars. The government maintained that Manning was an anarchist computer hacker and attention-seeking traitor. He was convicted on 19 of 21 charges and now faces up to 128 years in prison. His sentencing hearing begins Wednesday.
MANNING DIVERTED TO WIKILEAKS more than 700,000 battlefield reports and diplomatic cables, and video of a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack that killed civilians in Iraq, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver. In the footage, airmen laughed and called targets "dead bastards." He said during a pre-trial hearing in February he leaked the material to expose the US military's "bloodlust" and disregard for human life, and what he considered American diplomatic deceit. He said he chose information he believed would not the harm the United States and he wanted to start a debate on military and foreign policy.
US MARSHALS ADD SHANE MILLER TO MOST WANTED LIST
Today, the U.S. Marshals Service added Shane Miller, a former Humboldt County resident to its 15 Most Wanted List. (See above for the wanted poster.) Miller is a suspect in the triple slayings of his wife, Sandy, and two young daughters, Shelby and Shasta from the Shingletown area. Miller was last reported seen near Petrolia, and a massive manhunt had that community locked down for days. Miller’s truck was found on a private road but no trace of him has been seen since Wednesday, May 8th.— Kym Kemp (Courtesy, LostCoastOutpost.com)
NO CHILDREN IN THIS GARDEN
The Caspar Children's Garden (CCG) is much in need of a new home for its preschool program. I sincerely hope that a suitable location is found. However, as president of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens (MCBG) board of directors, I am concerned about Skip Taube's characterization of discussions that CCG initiated with the Gardens about the possibility of leasing the Parrish Family Farmhouse for this purpose.
Because of the age and condition of the Farmhouse, it was made clear from the outset that CCG would have to be responsible for demonstrating that this old and largely unimproved house could and would provide a safe and wholesome environment for regular use by young children. It was understood that this would require various tests and inspections, fencing and likely other modifications. Despite prolonged discussions with a series of CCG representatives, including Mr. Taube, the MCBG Board and our Director regretfully concluded that since we could not ensure the children's well-being, it would be unacceptable to lease the property for use as a preschool. While disappointing, the decision was neither abrupt nor driven by a “loss of interest.” It resulted from a thoughtful process driven by a clear focus on the health and safety of the children.
— Wendy Roberts, President, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, Mendocino
HIP SERVICE to perform fifth concert for the 22nd annual Sundays in the Park in Ukiah. On Sunday, August 11th in Todd Grove Park at 6:00pm Fowler Auto & Truck Center, The City of Ukiah, KWNE-FM and MAX 93.5 are proud to present the fifth concert of the 22nd annual 2013 Sundays in the Park concert series featuring the Electrifying Motown R & B Revue with Hip Service. Hip Service is one of Sundays in the Park’s favorite bands and are unrivaled in the entertainment industry with its unique variety of crowd pleasing, from-the-soul dance music. This accomplished group, made up of world-class performers, has become one of the most in demand live acts in Northern California. They won the Sacramento Sounds of Soul Music #1 award for Best R&B Group several times! Performing dance hits from the '60's through the '90's, Hip Service features three outstanding lead vocalists, a screaming four piece horn section, rock solid funky rhythm section and four electrifying dancers. Since their inception in 1996, the Hip Service sensation has taken Northern California by storm. It's the music that makes you get up and shake your hips! Rhythm & Blues, Classic Soul, sounds of Motown, Classic Rock, 70's Disco, or funky grooves: they have it all! This group's dance-'til-you-drop performances and stellar reputation in the entertainment business has made Hip Service "The-Band-In-Demand!" Great music, dynamic choreography, endless fun and enthusiasm, and true professionalism make Hip Service a boogying good time for the 20th annual Sundays in the Park concerts.