Mendocino County Today: August 24, 2013
by AVA News Service, August 23, 2013
ALL THAT FISH AND GAME commotion at Little River yesterday (Thursday)? An abalone study off of Van Damme State Beach, not an abalone bust.
LAST WEEK SUPERVISOR DAN HAMBURG issued a press release announcing that he intended to run for another term as Fifth District Supervisor. Usually, these announcements are simply printed as released in the local chain papers without comment. But in an unusual move, Ukiah Daily Journal Editor K.C. Meadows added some commentary to the press release last Tuesday, August 20.
Supervisor Hamburg To Seek Second Term
Ukiah Daily Journal
(FIRST THE PRESS RELEASE):
Supervisor Dan Hamburg announced Monday that he plans to seek a second term representing Mendocino County's 5th District. "I have been honored to do this work over the past three years and I want to continue doing it," he said. Hamburg cited two areas where he has been particularly active -- broadband and economic development. "I was instrumental in the formation of the Broadband Alliance of Mendocino County," Hamburg said. "Like most of rural America, we are lagging far behind in the availability of affordable high-speed Internet. We have been successful in pressing our case with the state Legislature and with the California Public Utilities Commission. I believe we are on the cusp of major improvements in both access and affordability that will bring 21st-century broadband to our corner of rural California." Hamburg maintains that broadband is one of the essential components for a healthier county economy. Further, he states, an improved economy is necessary to maintain essential county services, especially road maintenance and public protection. "The only way out of our county budget predicament is more revenue, and that takes a stronger economy. To achieve this, I've been working on a range of economic development projects with people who see the potential of a county that remains rich in natural amenities and human talent." Hamburg is the principal sponsor of the Mendocino Clean Energy Program under which homes and businesses can make major improvements in their properties with an extended payback through the property tax. He also contributed to the completion of the long-awaited Ukiah Valley Area Plan and is currently deeply involved in the process of updating the Mendocino Town Plan. "My first term as Fifth District Supervisor has been productive and I fully intend my second term to be even more so," said Hamburg . "I plan to ask the voters to reelect me so that I can complete projects that are vital to our county and to our wonderful District."
(THEN THE COMMENTARY):
Hamburg 's first term has not been without controversy. He recently sued the county - and demanded to get his attorney's fees paid by the taxpayers - over his fight with the county after burying his wife, Carrie, on his private property illegally following her death from cancer. A judge recently signed an order allowing the burial to remain as it is and Hamburg dropped his lawsuit and demand for payment. Earlier this year Hamburg was fined $9,500 by elections officials for irregularities in his campaign finance reporting, including $5,000 in unreported collections. Hamburg also criticized a regional effort to clean up marijuana growing in the Mendocino National Forest, an effort that has been considered a success. Hamburg was not among the supervisors who volunteered to cut their pay when county employees took a significant pay reduction. And in one of his first appearances as a supervisor in 2011, Hamburg shouted at Sheriff Tom Allman over budget frustrations.
ON FRIDAY (August 23) Supervisor Hamburg wrote in to the Journal responding to the Ms. Meadows’ commentary:
Hamburg Responds, And So Do We
To the Editor:
Thank you for printing our campaign press release regarding my announcement that I am seeking a second term as a as a supervisor. A few clarifications regarding your article embellishing the release are in order. Judge Cindee F. Mayfield ruled last week that the county must issue a death certificate and burial permit for my wife Carrie. This was after the county had previously refused to issue the documents. That refusal was the reason for my lawsuit. A request for attorneys fees often accompanies legal action as a way to encourage a successful outcome. In this case, the county agreed to issue the documents and I dropped the suit and request for fees. You write that "a regional effort to clean up marijuana in the Mendocino National Forest has been considered a success." By whom? Almost no arrests or convictions resulted and what was supposed to be an ongoing effort was canceled after a single year. Legalization of marijuana is the only way to get a handle on illegal growing. I have been saying that for at least three decades while the war on marijuana continues to be a bust. I took the voluntary 10% pay cut, as I had promised in my 2010 campaign shortly after taking office. Please check your facts. Regarding my "shouting" at Sheriff Allman, I was frankly tired of watching him berate the Board of Supervisors and I called him on it. I think relations between the Sheriff, the Board, and the executive office have improved since. Besides, the Sheriff is a big boy. It's okay for me as a guardian of the public purse to question him vigorously on his budget. I regret the campaign finance reporting problems I had in 2010 which resulted in my having to pay a fine. I will definitely be more careful this time around! Finally, as you will recall, the candidate you backed in 2010 lost by a large margin. Clearly, the Daily Journal, a Ukiah paper, has little comprehension of the political pulse of the Fifth District.
Dan Hamburg, Ukiah
UKIAH DAILY JOURNAL EDITOR'S RESPONSE: The fact is, while you did take a voluntary 10% cut in pay, you voted against a permanent 10% cut in pay which your colleagues Carre Brown and John McCowen advocated in January, 2012 (and which passed with John Pinches also voting yes and you and then supervisor Kendall Smith voting no) as the County made severe cuts to the pay of rank and file employees. The 10% voluntary cut you took does not affect your benefits or your retirement fund and therefore does not actually save the county 10%. As for the marijuana cleanup in the Mendocino National Forest, ask any of the sheriffs in the region touched by the Forest if they haven't seen a significant downturn in marijuana growing in the forest since the eradication and the following cleanup of infrastructure. I am told that residents of Covelo are using the forest again, that local ranchers are grazing livestock in the area again and that another infrastructure cleanup has been delayed because fewer gardens have returned. You dropped your lawsuit but just because asking for attorneys fees may be boilerplate in your mind, that money would still have come from the taxpayers. Finally, if you want to shout at the sheriff that's up to you, we just point out that your temper sometimes gets the best of you and shouting at other elected officials isn't the best way to get things done. As for your district, we know you have a dedicated following in the Fifth. That we thought your opponent (a smart, longtime resident and Democrat from the Fifth that your campaign unfairly maligned throughout) would do a better job, is called the democratic process. What's wrong with that?
ED NOTE: Mendo didn't "refuse" to issue the death certificate; they didn't have any choice given the current law. The judge simply issued the order, letting the County off the hook for any law violations. It’s hard to tell if Hamburg is deliberately deceptive or just delusional.
FROM REGINA CHICHIZOLA of the Hoopa Valley Tribe in Fresno:
A FEDERAL JUDGE issued a decision lifting a restraining order holding back releases of Trinity water into the Trinity River to advert a Klamath River fish kill. The decision came after days of protests from a large group of Hoopa Valley Tribal members. Tribal members protested in Fresno, California at the Westlands Water District board meeting on Tuesday and outside the Fresno courtroom, and in Sacramento, California outside a fisheries hearing at the California State Capital building on Wednesday.
THE TRINITY RIVER is the only out-of-basin diversion into the Central Valley Project, and is also the Klamath River’s largest tributary. Central Valley Irrigation interests, Westlands Water District and the San Luis & Mendota Water District filed a lawsuit against a government decision to release water for fish on August 7th. The Hoopa Valley Tribe and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations have intervened in the case on the side of the government.
JOHN SAKOWICZ points out, "…following the County's budget preparation in Ukiah last night If Mendocino County receives $0.29 per $1 in property tax collection, then approximately $350 million in new taxable assessment is needed to generate $1 million in property tax revenue.
$269,000 median price. Doing the math, we would need to build/sell 1,300 new homes to generate $1 million in property taxes for county services.
WATERCOLOR FOR THE REST OF US
Weekend workshop invites creative undertakings
by Roberta Werdinger
The Grace Hudson Museum presents a two-day watercolor workshop with noted painter Woody Hansen on the weekend of Sept. 7 and 8. Combined with the Museum's ongoing Family Fun at the Museum series, which has been featuring watercolor worskhops, adults and kids will have plenty of opportunities to expand their creative repertoire. Sacramento-based artist Woody Hansen is the recipient of numerous awards and has been painting watercolors for over 50 years. Hansen's approach to his art and his teaching is both down-to-earth and sophisticated. Calling his classes "No Bull," he combines indoor and outdoor instructional sessions. Guests at this workshop can take full advantage of both approaches. On the first day, participants will meet indoors at the Grace Hudson Museum, which is currently exhibiting works by the influential watercolorist and teacher Milford Zornes (1908-2008). Titled "Milford Zornes: A Painter of Influence," this retrospective exhibit of an extraordinary nine-decade career will serve as an inspiration for all and as the departure point for Hansen's own instruction. On Sunday, Sept. 8, the class will travel to the Mendocino Coast, where they will work outdoors to create their own watercolors. Woody Hansen states, "I consider myself a shape painter, one who attempts to create interesting marks on paper. I believe there is an elusive difference between the approach to art and craft, and that painting and drawing are two different but related skills... In short, the terms 'art' and 'craft' are not interchangeable, but certainly deserve equal appreciation." Hansen likes to think of histeaching approach as "watercolor for the rest of us." (Learn more about Woody Hansen's approach and see samples of his work at www.woodyhansen.com. The fee for the workshop is $150. Please call the Museum at 467-2836 to sign up. Participants will need to bring their own materials; the Museum will provide a list of what to bring upon signup. The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah and is a part of the City of Ukiah's Community Services Department. General admission to the Museum is $4, $10 per family, $3 for students and seniors, and free to members or on the first Friday of the month. For more information please go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org.
HOW GOOD IT IS, LEMONS’ PHILO MARKET
by David Ballantine
Lemons’ Market, nestled in the small burg of Philo just five miles north of Boonville, has been a mainstay in Anderson Valley for 40 years now. Elmer and June Lemons, along with their son Tom and his wife Connie, started the Philo market together. They have owned and successfully directed the business through a myriad of economic landscapes as the valley has shifted from apples, sawmills, and sheep to its present day grapes, wineries, and its subsequent tourism.
To the market's credit, and possibly its great success, it works hard at being responsive to the shifting demographic of the valley. And Erica Lemons, who now manages the day to day operations of the store, knows better than anyone that, with their limited space, what goes on the shelves must meet the demands of the immediate community as well as the weekend campers and tourists. She remembers fondly a spot on the shelves where Bub Clow's B & M bread-in-a-can went. They ordered it special for him. “He was good for about one a week.” she says, “Well, when he passed, there's this little spot on the shelf where that goes but I can't order bread-in-a-can. Part of me wants to just because that's Bub Clow's space.”
These days, in Bub Clow's spot on the shelf, you might find truffle oil or gluten free snack crackers, and back near the beer cooler many of the Valley's best wine offerings sit on their own shelf. It's hard to imagine, with all the wineries selling their own product at the tasting rooms, that the market would sell much of the $25 plus bottles of wine. But Erica knows her customers and she knows Lemons Market sells a lot of local wine. “A lot of people buy their wine closer to supper time, after the tasting rooms are closed.”
Elmer and June came to California from Oklahoma in 1952, where he worked in farming down south. They came north in the early '70s and settled in Anderson Valley, where Elmer fell in love with the fishing. The family tells stories of how they would row out from Albion in a rowboat, fishing for Rock Cod and the like. That grew into a commercial venture that Elmer's son, Tom, continues to this day. In fact, all of Tom's sons have commercial fishing licenses. Tom Jr. owns and operates the Tarantino Jr., and Tom Sr., along with his youngest son Wade, are partners in a new boat The Quillback. A quillback is a type of rock fish that is found in the waters near Noyo Harbor where both boats dock. Matt, Erica's husband, owns Elmer's old boat, The Newman 1, which might not be fancy but it has great sentimental value. Suffice it to say, this family takes their fishing very seriously. “It's a family business and we're all invested in it down to,” Erica says with pride and a chuckle, “not netting the fish because they don't want to knock the scales off.” “We're really lucky to know when it was caught, how it was handled. They are pretty when they come in.”
The reality of modern day labeling actually allows fisherman to call their salmon fresh when it has been caught weeks before it gets delivered to the vendor. Erica says she can't say how many times she and husband Matt have traveled down 19th Street through San Francisco to meet up with a boat in Half Moon Bay or up to Fort Bragg in the middle of the night to load their pickup with ice and salmon so that customers can have fresh fish or crab the next day. The family connection also allows Lemons Market quick access to other fishermen. When Tom and Wade or Tom Jr. don't have what the market wants — the family fishermen will put them in touch with someone who does. Lemons Market maintains a fish receiver’s license so that they can buy from any commercial fisherman.
Lemons’ Market opened its doors in 1973, when more than a few sawmills still dotted the Valley. By that time June had learned the art of butchering, working at Jack's Valley Store back before Jack's became primarily a building supply store. Now they had a place to sell their fish as well as beef and lamb, and the quality of those offerings have remained core to the market. Once, the lunch hour would see long lines of sawmill workers winding done the aisles of the store waiting for one of Lemons Market's huge sandwiches made to order with fresh meats and produce. It's a service they still provide, but now the customers are winery workers, campers passing through, and tourists taking a break before moving on to the next tasting room.
After Elmer passed and June retired, Connie continued to run the store with Tom. But as medical issues took an increasing toll her health, there came a time when the physical demands of running the store just became too much for Connie. And with Tom focusing more on running their commercial fishing business, it wasn't long before Erica began filling in. She started working in the market when she was 15, still in high school.
Erica credits Tom, whom she says is meticulous in pretty much everything he does, with training her to butcher. After a while you start to notice that attention to detail may just be a family trait.
The same thoughtfulness that goes into their fish goes into their treatment of beef.
Lemons’ sources their meat from The Golden Gate Meat Co. that, like Lemons Market, is a family owned and operated enterprise. The sell their organic beef through two wholesale outlets and run a thriving retail store at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. But even more impressive is the fact that, in a family of expert butchers, the Lemons deal primarily in whole carcass meat. When the whole BSE (mad cow disease) scare was brought on by poor handling techniques at the larger meat-packing plants back in 2008, Lemons and their customers didn't have to worry because their meat wasn't packaged by unknown entities. From their flank steaks to hamburger everything was produced and prepared in-house with that same meticulous attention to detail that Tom has become known for.
Lemons’ Market now has eight employees that are non-family members, but it's not a distinguishable trait when listening to Erica speak about them. When talking about her own skills Erica is brief and succinct, but when asked about the different departments of the store, she effuses over the many talents of the people around her. Most employees are capable of most tasks, but each has their specialty. A peek over the meat counter for just a moment or two is all anyone needs to realize the speed and precision with which they prepare the meat and fish. “Julie Mejia, Julie Winchester, Jenny Moore, and I all cut fish and they are really skilled — people don't realize what a skill it is.” She is particularly impressed with the cutting skills of the young Mejia who has been with the store for about ten years now.
Erica calls Tina Perez her produce guru. As the title implies, Tina has her pulse on what is available locally and what the customers want. She has been with the market since before Erica arrived, and Erica jokes, “You never realize how fast she is moving but at the end of the day she has done all this stuff and you don't know how it all got accomplished.” She is the dream employee that Erica wants her younger, newer employees to aspire to. “I don't want to have to talk to you, I don't want to see you, I just want things to magically get done.” Tina also keeps Erica up to date with needs of the Hispanic population by reminding her to get more fish near Easter or making sure to stock the sweet tamales, which is a food Erica is quick to point out she loves.
Two other employees that are highly prized are Marylin Pronsolino and Laurie Cooper. Marylin loves to test the newer products on her own time. “She is a great cook,” says Erica who has come to trust Marylin's opinion on what to keep and what not to order again. Customers also have her to thank for how she decorates the front of the store with seasonal displays. Laurie, is the one that really makes walking into the market a pleasure. Erica really appreciates her kindness, and if you have ever walked up to the counter at the end of a long, hard day at work, you know what Erica is talking about. Laurie’s smile makes the last few miles home a little easier.
Lemons’ also places great value on the fruits and vegetables. They get their much of their produce from Coastline Distributors in Santa Rosa. Erica laments the days when they were able to use local distributor, Signal Ridge Trucking, run by George and Kate Castagnola who no longer maintain what was a grueling workweek for just one couple. But Lemons has developed a strong relationship with their new distributor that allows them to call and tell them when something isn't up to their standards.
Coastline is quick to credit their account no questions asked because of their long relationship. “We have a rule,” Erica states matter-of-factly: “If you wouldn't eat it, no one else should either. So if it’s something that doesn't look good to us and we wouldn’t feed it to our kids, get rid of it.”
That's only half the story, however, because Lemons’ Market sources continually from a variety of local farmers and vendors. Organic vegetables from Pam Laird's Blue Meadow Farm, and berries from Bill McEwen often grace their produce cases. In addition they carry Cloverdale Honey, fruit from Gowan's Apple Farm, and goat cheese from Sara Cahn Bennett's new Penny Royal Farms. In the meat department they offer Round Man's smoked sausage from Fort Bragg, and Angelo's in Petaluma provides their smoked fish offerings. They also carry note cards from local nurse and photographer Anjes de Ryck. A favorite offering is the Salsa cookbook created by local women in the valley adult school. Vendors get the market rate, and just like the family fishermen, Erica wants them to succeed and get a fair wage for their efforts.
When she graduated from Anderson Valley High she had intended on going to college, but Matt Lemons asked her to marry him and she chose to stay and raise a family with him. Their own children, Will, who is 15 and Riley, a year and a half younger at 13 and a half, also help at the market as time allows between volleyball and football. Husband Matt, who is a general contractor in the Valley and who has always worked behind the scenes at the market, is taking on a more prominent role, allowing Erica to finally pursue those college goals.
This semester Erica has enrolled with a plan to earn a Certificate in Medical Assisting at Mendocino College. “This is for me,” she says with no real plan to change careers. It is no small irony that, after spending just a little time with Erica Lemons talking about the market, you know she could be teaching advanced classes in business at the college she is attending as a student.
(Brock’s Farm will be featured next in this Connecting With Local Food series brought to you by AV Foodshed. You can find articles 1-5 at www.mendocinolocalfood.org.)