Mendocino County Today: August 12, 2013

by AVA News Service, August 11, 2013

THE UKIAH VALLEY Medical Center is a for-profit medical complex owned and operated by the tax-exempt 7th Adventist Church. The Center announced last week that it has eliminated six jobs because, it says, it expects to make less money when Obama Care kicks in.

OF COURSE the Adventists didn't put the layoffs that harshly; their smoothie-woothie spokesman, Nick Bejarano, said the layoffs were “directly and indirectly” related to the Affordable Care Act, and are necessary because hospitals will receive lower reimbursements as part of state and federal payment reforms.

ACA, aka ObamaCare, section 1886(q) of the amended Social Security Act establishing the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, requires that payments to hospitals with excess readmissions be reduced.

THE ADVENTISTS having an inland Mendo monopoly, they have to treat everyone, and certain of those everyones are frequent fliers. The Adventists prefer the fully insured, not the 5150s, tweekers, drunks, and the even more plentiful plain old poor people who can't pay $5,000 to get their broken arm put in a cast. (Five thou, I hope, is an exaggeration, but you get the point. We all get the point. My colleague, The Major, just got a bill for $619 for “lab work” dispatched to a San Diego lab by a Ukiah dentist. The actual investigation, called a biopsy, probably took a lab assistant about thirty seconds.)

UNDER OUR PRESENT health care “system,” which can be called Pay or Die, hospitals naturally prefer fully insured patients, old geezers who suddenly appear in an emergency room are worth ten times their weight in real gold.

M-PayOrDieOBAMA CARE, as we know or should know, is an insurance scheme written by, guess who?, the insurance companies. If you don't buy one at upwards of $300 a month, the IRS will fine you.

IT'S NOT GOING TO WORK. Working Americans, already maxxed out, don't have upwards of $300 to buy mandatory insurance. And we wonder how ObamaCare can possibly apply to lots of people who do have the money — the off-the-books workers of Mendocino County, a very large segment of our population. There are hundreds of people in this area who haven't filed income tax returns in years, if ever. Nationally? Millions.

HENCE, the mass, last minute propaganda effort by the federal government to get people signed up, which is occurring in a context of most people not knowing anything of the particulars of what's expected of them, or the October 15th kick-off date.

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THAT’S A STUNNING field of sunflowers at Saracina Vineyards just north of Hopland, and a welcome sight, occurring as it suddenly does in the industrial-agro sameness of vineyards. I’m told the sunflowers are eventually plowed under to reinvigorate exhausted soil, an encouraging twofer of beauty and utility, you could call it.

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WE'RE TRYING to find out who compiled the following stats contained in this press release, but we suspect the Mendocino County Health Department. Yup, suspicions confirmed, the Mendo Health Department with an assist from the Coast Hospitality Center and the Ukiah Community Center,  something called “Love In Action,” plus the County's many non-profits clustered on the poor like fruit flies on piles of rotting bananas — miscellaneous self-interested parties. The stats were compiled during a one-day count on January 24th. Take it all with all the skepticism you can muster, but be it known that the bogus count is worth $1.9 million to all of the above in federal grant money. If the poor weren't this country's last growth industry, you think “Love In Action” would be all huggsies-wuggsies?

THIS IS THE ACCOMPANYING BULLSHIT: “The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors will hear on Monday county staff's annual report on homelessness in the county. The annual report is done in compliance with the Homelessness Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act of 2009, to comply with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, to track trends and access funding. The report, based on a homeless census and survey conducted Jan. 24, defines a homeless person as ‘an individual who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence,’ which include people housed at shelters, at institutions for 90 days or fewer, and those whose ‘primary nighttime residence is a public or private place not meant for human habitation.’ People living in shelters are counted the evening before volunteers gather in the early morning hours to count those living in cars, under bridges and in other places. For the unsheltered count, workers prepare weeks in advance, mapping zones and seeking out homeless encampments. Teams of three meet at 5am on the day of the unsheltered count, and count only people and vehicles with people in them. Volunteers are paid mileage at the county employee rate, and homeless workers are paid $10 per hour. The count, conducted every two years, shows that the numbers of homeless have decreased since 2011, when the count was last done. There were 104 people staying in emergency shelters in 2013, up four from the 2011 count; 71 people in transitional shelters in 2013, up from the 2011 count of 42 people. Overall, the 2013 count showed there were 175 people sheltered, up from 142 in 2011; and 1,169 people unsheltered, down from the 2011 count of 1,314. The 2013 grand total of homeless people in  Mendocino County is 1,344, down from 1,456 in 2011. The report includes the results of one-on-one interviews conducted by homeless workers, who also received $5 per survey. This year, workers interviewed 418 homeless people, according to the report. People who took the survey each received a $5 ‘incentive card.’ The survey showed there are 293 ‘chronically homeless’ individuals in the county, along with 27 families — with 24 of those being unsheltered — and 56 people in chronically homeless families. Of those, 39 individuals and three families are in emergency shelters. Homeless people with chronic substance abuse problems numbered 261 in the surveys, which also showed 230 homeless individuals are severely mentally ill. Of those, 180 substance abusers and 157 mentally ill homeless people are unsheltered. Homeless veterans numbered 63, with 48 of those unsheltered. Homeless victims of domestic violence numbered 59, with 40 of those in emergency shelters and 19 unsheltered. The 2013 ‘Point in Time’ count budget included $2,976 for the coast; $2,472 for the southern, inland portion of the county, and $1,100 for the northern, inland area. The benefit of the Point in Time count is that it meets HUD requirements for $1.9 million in grant funding. The grant is divided into amounts of $133,242 for supporting housing transition; $204,229 for a supportive housing program; $1.4 million for tenant rental assistance and $49,870 for sponsor rental assistance,” whatever that is.

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A2BWORLD TRAVELER and part-time Boonville resident Geoff Thomas has recently published his first travel book — “Poor Circulation I: Ashes To Boonville.” A fully literate writer in a time of no guarantees, Thomas vivifies his adventures as he makes his way to and through the most improbable places on a Triumph motorcycle. The book begins in Thomas' native England as the dutiful son vows to bring his late mother’s ashes to far-off Boonville. According to one reviewer the book “is far more than just another travel diary or tale of great adventure, it is an extraordinary exploration of one man’s inner journey and a quest to fulfill his mother's final wishes. The images Thomas evokes, as well as the atmosphere and emotion he describes really brings to life this tale of discovery and realization. If only there were more writers like Thomas out there, bringing the human story to their tales of great adventure.” Actually, the book is better than that; the writer spares us the kind of prolonged introspection which, unless you're Proust, is better unsaid, and certainly better unwritten. And when Thomas does indulge in what a lesser pen would be mere woo-woo and who cares, he does it funny. These days, the engaging Mr. Thomas can be found as the “ringer” on the Bar Team at the Thursday night quiz at Lauren’s Restaurant, Boonville.

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SOLFEST XV is scheduled for Saturday (August 17th) at Real Goods' Solar Living Center in Hopland, noon to midnight. As always, the event will be short on soul unless, of course, your idea of a rully, rully hardhitting event is a panel discussion featuring Supervisor Hamburg and Congressman Huffman, that snooze-aroo and a lot of the expensive eco-gadgetry that Real Goods pedals to upscale consumers with environmental pretensions.

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HOOPA VALLEY TRIBE INTERVENES

Westlands files lawsuit against Trinity water release

by Dan Bacher

The Westlands Water District and San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority filed a lawsuit in federal court in Fresno on Wednesday, August 7 in an attempt to stop increased flows on the Trinity River set to begin on August 13.

The lawsuit alleges that the Bureau of Reclamation's planned releases from Trinity Reservoir to protect salmon in the lower Klamath River would be unlawful and would further cut water available for the growers, causing them "significant and irreparable harm."

"Plaintiffs will be irreparably harmed by the lost water supply from the proposed releases, up to approximately 109,000 acre-feet," the lawsuit stated. "Instead of releasing that water to the Trinity River, Defendants could export it to the Sacramento watershed to support deliveries to members of the Authority, including Westlands. By doing so, Reclamation could restore the 5% allocation to south-of-Delta contractors that was cut on March 22, 2013."

"In addition, increasing exports from the TRD to the Sacramento River watershed would increase hydropower generation in 2013," the document claimed.

The lawsuit documents are available at: http://mavensnotebook.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Trinity-Complaint-as-filed.pdf

The Hoopa Valley Tribe responded by intervening in the lawsuit in support of increased releases down the Trinity. You can read the Tribe's intervention here: http://www.c-win.org/webfm_send/339

"Our fisheries scientists are very concerned about developing fish disease conditions in the Lower Klamath River, conditions that will affect the salmon runs returning to the Trinity River," said Danielle Vigil-Masten, Chair of the Hoopa Valley Tribe. "Accordingly, the Hoopa Valley Tribe has strongly supported the decision of the Bureau of Reclamation to release additional Trinity River water to ameliorate conditions in the Lower Klamath River. A die -off of Trinity River salmon, if it were to occur again this year, would be very harmful to the many Hoopa tribal members who rely upon these fish."

The Yurok Tribe and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA) will also intervene in the lawsuit in support of the Trinity River releases, according to Zeke Grader, PCFFA Executive Director.

The release will supplement flows in the Lower Klamath River to help protect an expected large returning run of adult Chinook salmon from a disease outbreak and mortality, according to Pete Lucero, Bureau of Reclamation spokesman.

The third largest run of fall Chinook salmon on record is expected to ascend the river and its tributaries this year - and representatives of Indian Tribes, fishing groups and environmental organizations are trying to prevent a fish kill like the one of September 2002 from taking place this season.

"It's deja vu all over again," responded Tom Stokely, Water Policy Analyst for the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN). "Back in 2002, these same water agencies blocked downstream releases of Trinity River water, which could have prevented the deaths of tens of thousands of adult salmon. Now they want to do it again. If they are successful, a major fish kill is likely."

"The bottom line is that the Bureau of Reclamation has promised to deliver much more water than is available in the system. These conflicts will only worsen until water contracts and water rights conform with hydrologic reality," he concluded.

In a press release on Wednesday, the Hoopa Valley Tribe warned that the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) plan to supplement Klamath River flows to avoid a fish kill may not be sufficient. “We need more water and we need it sooner,” said Hoopa Fisheries Director Michael Orcutt.

"The Klamath River is expecting a large fall run of salmon, yet the river is extremely low and warm. These conditions are similar to those in 2002 when an epidemic killed over 60,000 adult salmon in the Klamath River," according to Orcutt.

The target date for augmented flows in the Lower Klamath River is August 15. "Because of the two day travel time between Lewiston Dam and the Lower Klamath, the releases from Lewiston Dam will begin in the early morning hours of August 13 and end in the last week of September," Lucero explained.

Lucero said flows in the Lower Klamath River will be targeted at 2,800 cubic feet per second during this period and Lewiston Dam releases will be adjusted accordingly. Reclamation plans to release 62,000 acre feet of Trinity water, plus an additional 39,000 acre feet of emergency water if fish demonstrate signs of disease, to the Klamath during this period.

An Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact were prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, and are available online at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_projdetails.cfm?Project_ID=14366.

The Trinity River, the Klamath River's largest tributary, provides the only out of basin water for the federal Central Valley Project. The Brown administration is currently fast-tracking the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels under the California Delta to export massive quantities of Sacramento and Trinity River water to corporate agribusiness and oil companies.

The construction of the tunnels would lead not only hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon and steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other species, but would devastate the salmon and steelhead populations of the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

The Environmental Protection Information Center is urging people to take action by calling on the Department of the Interior to release more Trinity water and prevent another disastrous fish kill: http://www.wildcalifornia.org/blog/klamath/

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LIGHTNING FIRES BURNING ON MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST

Willows, Calif. - The Mendocino National Forest is currently locating and taking action to suppress fires started by lightning during a series of storms from Thursday evening through Saturday.  The Forest received more than 200 lightning strikes over the three days.  The Forest has identified four fires on the Upper Lake and Covelo Ranger Districts on the west side of the Forest and two fires on the Grindstone Ranger District, located on the east side of the Forest.  All four fires on the Upper Lake and Covelo Ranger Districts are all small and have been contained at less than an acre.  The Mickey Fire, which was identified Thursday evening in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness is out.  On the Grindstone Ranger District, the Wallow Fire was discovered Friday and contained at one-tenth of an acre Saturday.  The Crocket Fire is currently burning on the north end of the Snow Mountain Wilderness and is approximately 10 acres.  It is burning in heavy slash, brush and some timber in the same area as the 2001 Trough Fire.  It is expected to be contained today, but smoke will still be visible for the next several days.  Fire managers are asking the public to avoid the Crocket Fire Area due to increased fire traffic - both on the ground and in the air - as they work to achieve control of the fire.  As conditions continue to dry out and warm up, Forest firefighters anticipate discovering more lightning fires in the coming days.  As a reminder, the Forest is currently under fire restrictions.  To report a fire, please call 911.  For more information, please contact the Mendocino National Forest at 530-934-3316, or visit www.fs.usda.gov/mendocino<http://www.fs.usda.gov/mendocino>.  Updates are also available on Twitter @MendocinoNF. (CalFire Press Release.)

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