Mendocino County Today: September 15, 2013

by AVA News Service, September 14, 2013

THE UKIAH VALLEY SANITATION DISTRICT has filed a formal claim against the City of Ukiah for $16 million going back to the 1960s. According to the claim, filed last Friday (September 6), the City of Ukiah has been knowingly miscalculating the number of sewer connections in the City vs. the number of sewer connections outside the City (aka the District) which determines the percentage of sewer system costs allocated to the Sanitation District since late December 1966. According to the claim, the miscalculation is primarily caused by skewed “projections” showing an inflated number of future sewer connections in the District which were never recalculated and corrected to reflect the actual (lower) number of connections as called for in the agreement between the District and the City. According to the agreement between the Sanitation District and the City, not only does the City of Ukiah operate the Ukiah Valley sewer system and the treatment plant, but Ukiah also does the books for the system, including the Sanitation District’s books. This in turn would have increased the costs for the Sanitation District which, although not stated directly in the claim, caused increased sewage service costs to ratepayers outside the City of Ukiah.

WHY DID THE PROBLEM FESTER for so long? According to the claim, prior to 2008 the Sanitation District Board was made up of three appointees, two from the Board of Supervisors and one from the Ukiah City Council who, presumably, didn’t take an interest in the annual allocations — projected or actual — of sewer connections which increasingly favored the city over time. Then in 2008, the Sanitation District was reorganized into a five-member elected board and that “independent” board began looking into the sewer connection allocations only to be stonewalled by the City of Ukiah which, the claim alleges, which refused to provide the Independent Board and staff with access to the sewer system books — “even though numerous requests have been made.” The Claim says that Ukiah told the District that the records were “lost or otherwise destroyed,” even though the City had a fiduciary duty to maintain them.

THE CLAIM alleges that the annual reviews and re-allocations as called for the in City-District agreement which would have corrected the projected number of non-City (District) connections to the actual number of non-City (District) connections were never conducted, and therefore the ratio of City-to-District hook-ups was skewed in favor of Ukiah, costing the Sanitation District millions of dollars over the years, most of it accrued since the 90s.

THE CLAIM ALSO ALLEGES that the City has overbilled the Sanitation District for the District’s share of the big $75 million sewer system/treatment plant expansion project in the mid-90s, based on a similarly skewed calculation of sewer hookups.

A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, former conservative County Supervisor (and former LA cop) Frank McMichael resigned his job as Executive Director of the Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCo) and was re-hired as manager of the Sanitation District. The timing of the Sanitation District’s claim against Ukiah strongly implies that the no-nonsense Mr. McMichael may be the engine driving the claim, a claim which may well become a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the city if or when the claim is denied by the City.

IF THE CLAIM/LAWSUIT ever goes to trial (which we doubt — a more likely outcome is a long-drawn-out partial settlement) the public may be treated to a dirty laundry list of minor Ukiah officials and senior staff trying to explain that whatever sewer mess may have been created, it’s somebody else’s fault — somebody who’s conveniently long gone.

IF THE CLAIM turns out to be true, it means that Ukiah has been using the Sanitation District and its ratepayers as a slush fund to backfill the City's budget deficits for years (whether intentional or not remains to be proven), in a manner similar to the way they used redevelopment money, but which stopped when the State of California put an end to redevelopment a couple of years ago.

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IN FRANK HARTZELL'S fine story on Little River's famous Heritage House inn and restaurant in last week's Advocate-Beacon, Hartzell quotes the new manager that the Heritage House, 37 carefully maintained rhododendron gardens overlooking the Pacific, will be at least partially re-opened this fall. Which is now. “We want to bring the Heritage House back so that it will once again be a draw for this spectacular area,” said Denis G. Ferguson, Heritage House Resort and Spa general manager.

WE ALL HOPE Ferguson is right, but we've received calls from people working on the inn complaining that their checks are bouncing. A purported Florida billionaire, Jeff Greene, has gone through several managers since he bought the property in March 2012. But according to Hartzell, “This April, Greene hired the Love Hotel Management Group of St. Louis to manage the property. Ferguson works for Love, which is headed up by banker and international financier Laurence Schiffer.” Ferguson says the rejuvenated inn will offer 30 rooms from $175 and up and will employ 60 people.

GREENE paid $8 million for the place in March of 2012. He occasionally flies in and out of Little River Airport in a private jet to check on his enterprise. He apparently made lots of money in LA real estate development and credit default swaps, one of several new financial devices that led to the economic crash of 2008. Natch, Greene is a liberal of sorts. He ran unsuccessfully in a primary for the US Senate out of Florida.

HERITAGE'S closing in 2008 coincided with the crash of 2008. The Dennen family had successfully operated the inn for many years when they sold their business in 1998 to the mayor of San Diego and her sister, Mavoureen O’Connor, for about $10 million. Then a pair of funny money boys, David Wilk and Duane Werb, organized as a partnership called Lantana LLC paid $26.5 million for the enterprise with a German bank eventually loaning these broke guys $30 million on a business that hardly generates the kind of dough that could ever pay off $50 mil. The bank, not surprisingly, went broke and, like the crooks running our financial system at the time bailed out by our government, had to be bailed out by the German government. Where the money actually went is anybody's guess. Even slumbering Mendo roused itself at the sight and sound of all the funny money flying around the inn and moved to indict Wilk when an “unnamed octogenarian” stepped up to pay his Mendo taxes.

MAUREEN O'CONNOR was once mayor of San Diego. She married R.O. Peterson, founder of Jack In The Box. In the early 1980s, O'Connor and her husband bought several properties on the Mendocino Coast, including the Mendocino Hotel. Peterson set up a large charitable foundation valued at a cool billion before he died a decade ago. His widow hit the bottle and the on-line gambling sites, diverting many millions from her late husband's charity to pay her losses. She was indicted for these swindles but not prosecuted when she made a deal to pay the money back. Even the rich have their sorrows.

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Chili Bill

Chili Bill

‘CHILI BILL’ EICHINGER has died. A very good writer whose work we were always pleased to publish, Bill was well known in San Francisco and beyond — famous as a bartender at Finnegan's Wake, famous as a raconteur, famous as the guy whose goal it was to eat at every Chinese restaurant in San Francisco. (He got to 415 of them.) Bill headed west in '67, the Summer of Love, and never looked back, arriving in the city with no money, one of thousands of lively, adventurous people to land here that pivotal year. Bill made a good life for himself in his new home town, and certainly enlivened the lives of everyone else he met. We're re-running a few of his stories as a kind of commemoration in honor of a person we admired. We're sorry to see him go.

THE HARDEST WORKING MAN IN SHOW BIDNESS

by ‘Chili Bill’ Eichinger

Next to Ali, I’d be willing to bet that James Brown is the most widely known Afro-American in the world. There are probably teenage Japanese girls who know more about him than I do. And I can personally vouch for his moniker, “The Hardest Working Man In Show Business,” because I was lucky to see him repeatedly in my youth. I’ve never seen anyone sweat like that on a stage, before or since.

Everyone likes to think of Kansas City as an overgrown cow town, conveniently forgetting, or perhaps just ignorant of, the glory days of Charlie Parker, Count Basie and numerous other luminaries of the music world who made it into one of the hottest spots in the country, especially during the Pendergast regime. This certainly carried over into the fields of R&B and Soul Music. It was always a thrill to be walking down the street in the wrong part of town and espy one of those enormous, garish day-glo posters of an upcoming revue, prominently displayed in some barbershop window (said posters are worth a fortune today, if you, unlike me, were smart enough to hang on to one). They would have names like “Soul Caravan” or “Cavalcade of Stars,” with a picture of each artist inside a star, a dozen or so acts, like the Drifters, the Coasters, Jackie Wilson, Patti LaBelle — you name it. These shows weren’t heavily advertised outside the East Side of town, nor was there much said in the newspaper, but anyone who dug the music and had the balls to go was there. Your audience was about 99.9% black, with a few Italians, Latinos and plain ol’ cornfeds like me. The only prerequisite needed to avoid hassles was to dress righteously: no Levis and penny loafers at these functions. This meant a suit, tie, trench coat and hat, and I’m not talking about something from Robert Hall, either. You bought your “vines, kicks and skies” at Matlaw’s or Pener’s Menswear down on 18th Street and Vine. And you made sure it was all clean, Gene, if it meant spending your last cent at the dry cleaners.

James made it a point to have his shows around Easter time, and always at the Municipal Auditorium. This was an ideal venue, both for its size and the fact that there would normally be about 50 or so cops present, the majority of them being big, dumb gap-toothed goons from Oklahoma or Texas, and they always worked in pairs (they weren’t that dumb).

James would divide the show into two segments. The first half would feature numerous acts like Marvelous Marva, Two Tons of TV Fun, a ventriloquist, etc., and an all-instrumental set with Mr. Dynamite at the organ. A break and then the fireworks would begin! If you haven’t done so already, get a copy of the James Brown Live At The Apollo CD, just to get an inkling of what it was like at one of these shows. Talk about a master showman who had the audience in the palm of his hand at all times — you’d have to go to church to find a rival performance.

BrownAtApolloI have to admit that I illegally purchased alcoholic beverages for these shows, and handily snuck them in — it wasn’t really that difficult. Everybody had a jug and knew how to drink it without getting caught. If you were unfortunate enough to run out before achieving the right buzz, you could always find a gentleman in the restroom who would happily supply you, at an inflated price of course. I’d never heard of Mr. B bourbon until I shelled out five dollars for a half pint one time. Haven’t seen it since, either. Those who were really short of funds could get a slug of cheap red wine for a quarter — high quality stuff like Bali Hai or Italian Swiss Colony.

I probably went to three or four of these shows without a hitch, and never saw any kind of conflagration before, during or after. Well, as you know, all good things must soon come to an end.

In the infancy of my hippie period, I was associating with some other disaffected youths I’d met at college, including my longtime friend and musician, Glenn Walters. When he found out that I went to see James every year, he immediately wanted to go with me next time around.

Well, Glenn had a good head start on me in the hair department (pun sort of intended). I told him I wasn’t really all that confident that he’d fit in with the rest of the crowd, and I certainly didn’t fancy the idea of getting my ass kicked through guilt by association. I didn’t think he even knew what a suit was. Somehow, he came up with all the necessary togs — some of it even fit right. There’s nothing like a guy with shoulder-length hair and a fedora, in Kansas City, in 1966.

We showed up at the hall, and I was sure that all the brothers and sisters were checking out “the dude with the hair.” After a few slugs of whiskey I pretty much didn’t give a rat’s ass; I suggested we find ourselves a seat in the stands and stay there, and it’s a damn good thing we did.

For some bizarre reason the promoters, or someone else with their head up their ass, decided to hold a dance contest between the first and second halves of the show. This in itself isn’t completely ludicrous. The fact that the judges narrowed it down to a black couple and an Italian guy with a Mexican girl is another story. The final vote belonged to the audience, and as far as I’m concerned the applause was clearly in favor of the black couple, as one would expect. But oh no, the judges seemed to think that there was a tie, so they announced that they would add the first and second place awards (cash) together and split it evenly between the finalists.

It took less than a nanosecond for the first bottle to come flying out of the balcony, and then it was like a Kansas thunderstorm. I saw one poor cop take an empty to the back of the head, spin about to look for the culprit, and get another one from the opposite direction.

I grabbed Glenn and said, “Let’s get the f___ outtahere!”

“What about the rest of the show?”

“The show’s over, brother!”

We managed to get to the front door without being accosted, treading on a sea of broken glass. It was the only show I’ve ever been to where they frisked me on the way out. Ambulances were pulling up, and there were plenty of cracked and bleeding skulls to keep them busy. We made it home finally, and tried to relax with the help of several beers while relating our tale of woe to everyone else in the house.

The Kansas City Star carried the whole story, wherein the Powers That Be announced that James Brown would not be allowed to perform in KC in the future. To this day I’m not sure Glenn ever got to see James live; I’ll have to ask him some time.

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WEBB LEWIS HARPE, born February 3, 1918, passed peacefully to his Maker on September 10, 2013. 95 glorious years! Mendocino County Native, World War II Veteran, Husband of Dorothy, Fisherman, Father, SF Giant fan, Country Music Lover, Storyteller, Husband of Evelyn, Friend, Card Player, Rock Hound, Grandfather, Husband of Esther, College Football fan, Mason, Lieutenant in Signal Corps, PG&E Supervisor, Jewelry Maker, Tree Farmer of the Year 2008, Rose Gardener, Hunter, Independent Thinker, Neighbor, Nonagenarian, Rejecter of Gloom and Doom.

Webb Harpe was born to Gladys Fortune Harpe and Webb Amsby Harpe. A native of Mendocino County, he graduated from Hopland High School, then attended Chico State before joining the United States Army, serving in the Army Signal Corps during WWII. He achieved the rank of Lieutenant while with the occupation forces in Japan. After discharge he started his long career with PG&E, beginning as a climber and retiring at 58 as the Ukiah District Electrical Supervisor. He literally climbed the pole to the top! He married Dorothy Williams Martin and embraced her two children Craig and Melody. They went on to enlarge their family with young Austin. Dorothy passed and Webb then married Evelyn Smart. Evelyn passed shortly after Webb's best buddy, Albert Elmer. Webb then married Esther Elmer, Albert's widow, and they enjoyed her last years traveling with their travel trailer and fishing boat. During his retirement, Webb spent a great deal of time hunting and fishing with best buddies Elmer (Brownie) Brown, Roy Hoskins and Albert Elmer. Verbally given the responsibility by Albert Elmer to look after his timber ranch, Webb took the task to heart. He was actively involved in the day-to-day logging operations, and carefully made all the decisions related to that responsibility. Thanks to Webb for leaving a beautiful ranch for the future generations. Webb was nominated by Mike Howell (Webb's Forester) for the California Tree Farmer of the Year in 2008, and he won! He basked in the hectic pace of the three days of meetings and parties, and of course he was the center of attention. As well, Webb was very involved with the Shriners, acting for several years as Trustee with John Parducci and Bill Brosig. He spent his final retirement years collecting, cutting and polishing rocks and making his famous black walnut earrings and necklaces filled with turquoise, coral and lapis lazuli. He loved to give his handmade jewelry to all of the women in his life.

The family would like to thank Webb's very special caregivers, Arselia Delgado, Elenoa Fong and Lella. And we will never forget his very special friendship with Stella Rau, Webb's fiercest protector!

Webb is survived by his son Craig Martin (Linda), daughter Melody Martin (Ian), son Austin (Janet) and grandchildren Bill, Carrie and Gina Martin, along with other grandchildren and great grandchildren. Services on Tuesday, Noon, at Eversole Mortuary in Ukiah, California. Reception directly after services at the Mendocino Lake Clubhouse. Private burial at Hopland Cemetery on Wednesday. Donations may be made to the Anderson Valley Fire Department, PO Box 398, Boonville, CA 95415, or to a favorite charity.

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ANDY CAFFREY, the Garberville-based enviro and marijuana activist, has announced he will again run for Congress in the 2014 elections. Caffrey drew national attention when he appeared on several national television shows during his 2012 run as one of two pot candidates and the third candidacy of ocean protectionist, John Lewallen. Jared Huffman went on to Congress while progressive Democrat Norman Solomon was knocked out of the general election in the primary election by the combined vote of other mainstream Democrat candidates, the two pot candidacies of Caffrey and Courtney, and Lewallen. Huffman went on to face a sacrificial Marin Republican whom Huffman trounced in the general election. Solomon, if he had succeeded in forcing Huffman into a runoff, both the conservative liberals of the Northcoast and the Clintonian national Democrats would have been forced into a showdown over party priniciples, as in, Are Democrats going to continue as Republican Lites or return to an FDR-like commitment to working people.

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TO THE EDITOR:

Breaking news: A $16 million dollar claim against the City of Ukiah was filed by the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District last Friday, September 6.

Apparently, the Sanitation District thinks that the City of Ukiah has been dipping into Sanitation District funds — “borrowing” — to cover their own budget/cash flow problems for years, and that these “borrowing costs” may have been passed along to ratepayers.

Passed along to ratepayers!

Yup. Those ratepayers are most of you reading this!

And maybe rebates will be passed on to ratepayers, if the District wins the case.

Let's hope so. My sewer bill has tripled during the last ten years.

Also, it would seem apparent that the District only recently got wind of this ruse. The accounting deception was that skillful.

Reportedly, the District hired Duncan James to file the claim, and that after it's routinely denied by the City, it will become a hell of a case in the courtroom.

I'm asking City Clerk, Kristine Lawler, to send me a copy of the claim. It's quite lengthy. A 10mb file of scanned non-text images. I'll post it on my blog on KZYX once I receive it. Besides the City borrowing the District's money, I gather so far in my reading of the claim that the District also thinks Ukiah may have been “cooking their books” to cover it up — the City was doing the District's bookkeeping, apparently.

PS. One of the named parties in the lawsuit is our old buddy, Gordon Elton. Remember him?

Gordon Elton, the retired Ukiah City Finance Director.

He is also the guy that Dan Hamburg felt so strongly about protecting from negative publicity that he violated my right to free speech at the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meeting on July 16 during public comment by ruling me out of order when I started to wail away at Gordon Elton.

Hamburg chairs the Board of Supervisors.

Just think about it.

Gordon Elton was more important than the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The very same Gordon Elton who is now alleged to have cooked the books at the Sanitation District.

Free speech is regarded as so important that state constitutions are allowed to provide free speech protections similar to those of the US Constitution. In a few states, such as California, a state constitution has been interpreted as providing more comprehensive protections than the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has permitted states to extend such enhanced protections, most notably in Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins.

So, stand-by for my own lawsuit. My issues surrounding free speech have not yet been resolved with Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. I am hopeful we can come to a settlement, but time will tell. The majority of the Board are decent, well-meaning, responsible people.

If we can't settle and I sue, folks should know that I sue on behalf of all of you, the citizens of Mendocino County. It will not be a frivolous lawsuit.

Our First Amendment rights must not be abridged!

Especially in this age of corporate personhood, big political donors, lobbyists, and Super PACs, our rights must not be abridged. Public comment is the only access that many of us have to our elected officials.

Every violation must be contested. It's a slippery slope.

Meanwhile, I wonder if the Ukiah City Attorney will be called upon to defend Gordon Elton. Will taxpayer dollars be spent defending Gordon Elton? And will the good people of Ukiah protest that misuse of public funds during public comment at both Ukiah City Council meetings and Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meetings?

— John Sakowicz, Ukiah

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FOR NORTHERN CALIFORNIA RIVERS, LUCK IS NOT A PLAN

By Congressman Jared Huffman

In “Dirty Harry,” Clint Eastwood memorably asked, do you “feel lucky?” It made for great theater, but it's no way to manage North Coast salmon. Unfortunately, that's been the policy of the U.S. Department of Interior toward the near-record run of chinook salmon that is migrating up the Trinity and Klamath rivers. Instead of a comprehensive strategy to fulfill its duty to protect this iconic fishery, the department is rolling the dice. So far, the salmon have been lucky.

A decade ago, they were not so lucky. In 2002, the same conditions we are experiencing this year — large salmon returns, a dry year, and over-allocated Klamath River water unable to satisfy all competing needs — produced a massive fish kill. Insufficient river flows brought death to thousands of salmon and economic disaster for tribes, fishermen, and communities up and down the West Coast.

The water allocation conflicts in the Klamath River Basin are exacerbated by the constant legal battles waged by corporate farms in the Central Valley against the interests of those who rely on salmon on the North Coast of California. This summer, the ever-litigious Westlands Water District in Fresno sued to stop the federal government from releasing water from Trinity Lake into the Trinity River to improve conditions for salmon downstream in the Lower Klamath. Despite the need to raise water levels and cool the river to help avoid a fish kill, Westlands wanted the water, so it sued and won a temporary order blocking the Trinity releases.

Luckily, the federal court ultimately ruled against Westlands and allowed the water to be released — just in time to reach thousands of salmon entering the Klamath estuary. But this shouldn't have happened — it shouldn't be up to a judge to decide every year whether the federal government can use Trinity River water to prevent a fish kill. For the sake of salmon and the sake of plain good governance, we need a permanent solution.

Unfortunately, the Interior Department has been dithering for years. Humboldt County, 200 miles north of San Francisco, is owed 50,000 acre-feet of Trinity River water a year dating back to a 1955 federal law. For years, Humboldt County, the Hoopa Valley and the Yurok tribes, have been asking the department to allow this water right to be used to protect and enhance the downstream salmon fishery. Earlier this summer — well before the pending crisis and the Westlands lawsuit — Democratic Reps. Mike Thompson, George Miller and I asked the secretary of the interior to respond to the long-standing requests for use of this water.

The response from the federal water managers? Crickets. Their silence follows an all-too-common federal tactic of waiting until an emergency, letting the Central Valley water exporters drive the agenda, and hoping for the best: the “do you feel lucky” plan. It's past time for the department to decide, once and for all, whether Humboldt County's water allocation will be honored so we can avoid these regular crises on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

The Interior Department's mismanagement of this year's crisis and failure to take a stand on Humboldt County's water rights should be a red flag to Northern Californians regarding another “do you feel lucky” policy in the making: the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and its proposal to build huge tunnels to increase diversions of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta estuary without protections for North Coast water. This is a movie we've seen many times before: Westlands and other delta exporters will sue for every drop of Northern California water they can get, with no regard for salmon or North Coast rivers.

The federal agencies, along with Gov. Jerry Brown, have told us to trust that the BDCP will avoid these problems. I hope they're right. But the state and federal agencies have been negotiating with Westlands and the other water exporters for seven years, and still haven't been able to agree that more water — not less — must flow through the bay-delta to preserve healthy salmon runs.

With tens of thousands of wild salmon and the economic vitality of North Coast communities in the balance, the feds have consistently ducked the tough calls. Is it any wonder that Northern Californians are skeptical about the Bay Delta Conservation Plan?

(Jared Huffman represents the Second Congressional District, which includes Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity and Del Norte counties, in the U.S. House of Representatives.)

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AMEN, BRO

Editor,

I had the dubious pleasure of visiting San Francisco with my three-year-old daughter and feel compelled to write to you regarding an unforgettable experience. In an effort to take my daughter on a cable car ride, we found ourselves on Eddy Street for parking near the cable car turntable. We could hear the sounds of an angry man screaming in the distance. Within minutes, the source of the sound became readily apparent. It was a man in a “Jesus Saves“ shirt with a bullhorn strapped to his waist and a hand microphone screaming at my daughter and me as loud as he could from three feet away.

On the surface, I say, fine, the guy has his First Amendment right to say whatever he wants to say, but is there really nothing that can be done when a man is screaming in the face of parents and children who are effectively stranded in a line, to the point where a little girl is shaking in fear and put to tears?

This went on for at least ten minutes while a police officer casually chewed gum with his thumbs in his belt roughly 20 feet away. I asked the officer how this could possibly be tolerable, and he gave me the First Amendment pitch and noted that the same guy has been doing this for years down there.

Is there anything you can do to address this kind of unconscionable, egregious absurdity? Is there no line of decency that can be drawn in a city as grand as San Francisco?

— Clay Miller, Reno

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REMEMBER BONGO BILL?

WELL, HERE HE IS NOW!

Editor:

My name is William Joseph Newport CDCR#K14307, aka “Bongo Bill.” This letter has been a long time coming. I was a homeless man who had a more or less meager form of existence in the town of Mendocino called “The Shadow Folk,” the invisible ones, the dregs of society. I fought not only with drugs and alcohol but a mental illness.

But let me back up just a minute. This letter is not about poor me or how screwed up my childhood was leading me to this form of existence called incarceration. No, far be it for me to say. This is a letter of taking the focus off of me and placing it on the people of Mendocino.

Back on September 7 of 1994 I lost my friend George Nelson who used to panhandle on Main Street in Mendocino down the street from The Melting Pot. Also a sweet dear woman named Annie (an Eskimo Indian tribal member) who lost her baby named Joseph Two Owls (who was my baby).

On top of the many hits of LSD that I took in your lower cemetery mixed with my mental illness, I set four fires.

1. The Melting Pot — I would like to say to the owner I am truly sorry and that I thank my God that not a single person was hurt in any physical way. I am also truly sorry for the money you had to spend on repairs.

2. The McCallum House where I set a laundry bag on fire that did cause damage and could have seriously injured people in both places, meaning The Melting Pot and the apartments on the other side.

3. The little red house across from the health food store where we homeless sat, I am truly sorry for your loss.

4. The lot on Evergreen — I am truly sorry for the damage I cost you.

I would also like to apologize to the homeless people I brought pain and suffering to.

Like I said, this is not a letter for sympathy to the poor homeless mentally ill man who got his 45-Life, but to the fact of the matter, “You Mendonites."

I've been in here since September 7, 1994 until now and I deserve this sentence. I will die in here and that's a given. I'm not getting out. I don't have any violence on my prison record since that time. It took this death sentence for me to find life. I seriously wish I could have had one of your townsfolk named Louise Mary Ditto to have taken care of me when I was a lad. She stayed with me as my SSI payee until January of 2009. I miss her very badly.

Well, I could go on but I won't. This focus was for you and not me.

— William Joseph Newport, Chowchilla

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THE REVIVAL OF THE HERITAGE HOUSE RESORT

An Historic Property Re-Opens on the Mendocino Coast

MENDOCINO/LITTLE RIVER, CA — On Monday, September 16, 2013, the Heritage House Resort will re-open its doors after a lengthy 5 year absence from the popular Mendocino destination. The highly acclaimed resort, located on 37 wondrous acres along the Pacific coast, has always been well known as the jewel of the North Coast. It has been home to a storied past dating back to 1877 and the location of numerous motion pictures, such as the classic “Same Time Next Year” starring Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn. “Since acquired in 2012, we have been entrusted in polishing the jewel and placing it back in a combined historic and modern setting with a multi-million dollar phased renovation,” says Denis Ferguson, General Manager. “With over 136 years of heritage to respect, our task is a labor of love and one that will continue into 2014.”

Our service team is ready, and guests who will be staying with us as one of the many to experience the first chapter of our revival story, can rest assured that every precaution necessary has been taken to ensure a great experience is delivered. “Ongoing improvements will not affect the serenity of the resort in any way,” Ferguson adds. “We are quite certain the Heritage House Resort’s continuing revival will capture the interest and intrigue of everyone, where they will surely want to return as future chapters unveil.”

Heritage House will first open with 30 of its 70 guest rooms. All rooms feature majestic views of the Pacific, large decks with soothing sounds of the sea, while the gardens, grounds, and wooded trails along the coast afford to all a haven of total harmony and fun. The Heritage House Resort will feature fully renovated accommodations with stylish Pacific contemporary decor that will appeal to all generations. The remodel has provided all of the modern amenities typical of a 4-Diamond resort. Also opening with the resort is the much anticipated 5200 Restaurant & Lounge featuring farm-to-fork cuisine by celebrated Executive Chef Fabrice Dubuc. 5200 will initially operate for dinner by reservation only.

Future chapters of the resort will include a wellness center, full-service spa and fitness center. An array of additional recreational activities will also be unveiled at the resort and its secluded beach, along with the return of its nursery and gardens, a favorite of former guests. Indoor and outdoor reception and meeting facilities will soon be completed, making the resort an ideal destination for weddings, family reunions and corporate outings.

For more information, or to schedule an interview, please call Jay Chambers, Director of Sales & Marketing at (707) 202- 9000 x180, or email: jchambers@heritagehouseresort.com

2 Responses to Mendocino County Today: September 15, 2013

  1. John Sakowicz Reply

    September 15, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Thank you for today’s great story about the $16 million dollar claim against the City of Ukiah was filed by the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District last Friday, September 6.

    Apparently, the Sanitation District thinks that the City of Ukiah has been dipping into Sanitation District funds — “borrowing” — to cover their own budget/cash flow problems for years, and that these “borrowing costs” may have been passed along to ratepayers.

    Passed along to ratepayers!

    Yup. Those ratepayers are you readers of this newspaper who live in the Ukiah Valley!

    And maybe rebates will be passed on to you, the ratepayers, if the District wins the case.

    Let’s hope so. My sewer bill has tripled during the last ten years.

    Also, it would seem apparent that the District only recently got wind of this ruse. The accounting deception was that skillful.

    Reportedly, the District hired Duncan James to file the claim, and that after it’s routinely denied by the City, it will become a hell of a case in the courtroom.

    I’m asking City Clerk, Kristine Lawler, to sent me a copy of the claim. It’s quite lengthy. A 10mb file of scanned non-text images. I’ll post it on my blog on KZYX once I receive it.
    Beside the City borrowing the District’s money, I gather so far in my reading of the claim that the District also thinks Ukiah may have been “cooking their books” to cover it up — the City was doing the District’s bookkeeping, apparently.

    PS. One of the named parties in the lawsuit is our old buddy, Gordon Elton.

    Remember him?

    Gordon Elton, the retired Ukiah City Finance Director.

    He is also the guy that Dan Hamburg felt so strongly about protecting from negative publicity that he violated my right to free speech at the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meeting on July 16 during public comment by ruling me out of order when I started to whale away at Gordon Elton.

    Hamburg chairs the Board of Supervisors.

    Just think about it.

    Gordon Elton was more important than the First Amendment of the U.S.Constitution. The very same Gordon Elton who is now alleged to have cooked the books at the Sanitation District.

    Free speech is regarded as so important that state constitutions are allowed to provide free speech protections similar to those of the U.S. Constitution. In a few states, such as California, a state constitution has been interpreted as providing more comprehensive protections than the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has permitted states to extend such enhanced protections, most notably in Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins.

    So, stand-by for my own lawsuit. My issues surrounding free speech have not yet been resolved with Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. I am hopeful we can come to a settlement, but time will tell. The majority of the Board are decent, well-meaning, responsible people.

    If we can’t settle and I sue, folks should know that I sue on behalf of all of you, the citizens of Mendocino County. It will not be a frivolous lawsuit.

    Our First Amendment rights must not be abridged!

    Especially in this age of corporate personhood, big political donors, lobbyists, and Super PACs, our rights must not be abridged. Public comment is the only access that many of us have to our elected officials.

    Every violation must be contested. It’s a slippery slope.

    Meanwhile, I wonder if the Ukiah City Attorney will be called upon to defend Gordon Elton. Will taxpayer dollars be spent defending Gordon Elton?

    And I wonder if the good people of Ukiah will protest that misuse of public funds defending Elton during public comment at both Ukiah City Council meetings and Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meetings?

  2. Shankar Reply

    September 15, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Glad this is being looked at. I live in Ukiah and I feel my sewer bill is way too high.

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