Letters To The Editor
by AVA News Service, October 10, 2013
BACK OFF, LAFCO
A few days ago I received at my residence a mailed invitation (copy attached) from LAFCO of Mendocino County. The invitation stated “LAFCO of Mendocino County Invites your board members and staff to participate in 'Water in the Ukiah Valley' A Community Conversation.”
I am not sure why an invitation meant for my board members would be sent to my residence; apparently LAFCO staff is unaware that the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District has a business office located at 151 Laws Ave. In any case, I have a number of concerns and issues with this forum which I have detailed below.
• Spending Non-water District's Money For This Forum
The greater preponderance of districts within Mendocino County are not water districts and of those water districts in Mendocino County, most are not located in the Ukiah Valley. Of all of the districts in Mendocino County, Ukiah Valley Sanitation District (UVSD) pays the largest dollar amount of assessment to LAFCO for its operations. As is true for all the other districts, we are required by law to pay those assessments and cannot deny payment. UVSD's only way of making that payment is to adjust our sewer service fees to include LAFCO's assessment. There is no reason for UVSD's ratepayers or any other non-water district to pay for a LAFCO water forum.
Another example of the inequity of using all district's assessments: All of the fire districts in Mendocino County are volunteer organizations, most are strapped for cash, fire districts often solicit donations or conduct various community fundraisers to support their organizations. Fire districts also have to pay assessments to LAFCO. There is no reason for them to be paying for a water forum.
The point of these two examples is that LAFCO is taking money from all types of districts located throughout the County and using that money to host a Ukiah Valley water forum; as indicated below, a water forum that is not needed. If LAFCO has that kind of spare cash laying around, it should reduce its budget and send the difference back to the funding agencies.
• Basic Premise Wrong
The invitation indicates that LAFCO will be looking for an answer to the question: “Given the current complexity of water use, supply and governance, how can we re-shape service delivery to best serve the people of the Ukiah Valley?”
Within the Ukiah Valley there are four water districts (Calpella CWD, Millview CWD, Willow CWD and RRFC) and one City water department. Calpella, Millview, Willow and the City of Ukiah provide water directly to households and businesses; they are a retailer of water. Russian River Flood Control owns the rights to 8,000 acre feet of water from Lake Mendocino. RRFC wholesales that water to the indicated public agencies and agricultural users. Each of the indicated agencies also have their own water rights. This is a common model found to be effective all over the state; it is not unique to the Ukiah Valley. These agencies have been successfully delivering water to their customers for many decades. The delivery of water to these agency's respective customers or the governance associated with these public agencies is hardly a complex thing to understand; if you pay a little bit of attention.
In my opinion, the “given” part of that statement is inaccurate. If your basic premise is inaccurate then all that follows will also be wrong.
• LAFCO Intrusion — Why Now?
The second half of the LAFCO question, asks “how can we re-shape service delivery to best serve the people of the Ukiah Valley?”
Who is “we"? Is “we” LAFCO? Except for the City of Ukiah, the above mentioned water agencies within the Ukiah Valley are already moving forward to “re-shape” service delivery compared to past practices.
Example 1: Calpella CWD, Millview CWD, Willow CWD and Hopland PUD through contract arrangements are successfully sharing human resources, equipment, administration, billings and accounting and office space. Through the foresight of their respective Boards of Directors, they have been doing this for some time The thought is that if this arrangement continues to work well, they can consider consolidation in the future. If they do propose to proceed with consolidation, they will be able to demonstrate to their service recipients that consolidation could work without negative effect to them. This is a reasonable approach, admirable in its concern for assuring workability.
Example 2: The Boards of Directors of Redwood Valley CWD and Russian River Flood Control just agreed to begin the process of annexing the jurisdictional boundaries of Redwood Valley CWD into RRFC and at the same time dissolve the Redwood Valley CWD as a public agency. If this occurs, RRFC will then provide retail water services in Redwood Valley and Redwood Valley CWD will no longer exist.
These agencies did not need LAFCO or any other outside forcing agent to tell them to seek this level of cooperation and effort. Why, all of a sudden, does LAFCO want to intrude upon this process?
• LAFCO — Supposed to be Objective Hearing Body
LAFCO regulates the boundaries of various public agencies. It is required to make an objective decision regarding any change of boundary requested by districts or cities. Regarding the two examples provided above, LAFCO will likely at some point in the future hold a public hearing to make decisions about requested changes of organization for these agencies. Attempting to influence the circumstances of these agencies today will call into question LAFCO's objectivity in the future.
Why would LAFCO want to subject itself to possible future challenges because it has demonstrated its lack of objectivity?
• LAFCO Not a Planning Agency
While it would be accurate to say that a decision by LAFCO to allow or disallow a district to change its jurisdictional boundaries has a planning effect; LAFCO is not a planning agency such as a county or a city. It certainly is not a water planning agency. Water agencies do water planning. LAFCO law does require an agency, such as a water district that is seeking to enlarge its boundaries, to provide a Plan For Service that demonstrates that the district has sufficient water to meet the needs of the new territory without negative effect to existing customers. But notice this Plan comes from the water agency, not LAFCO.
Why all of a sudden, does LAFCO want to influence water planning?
• LAFCO Advises Brown Act Violations
Apparently, based on the invitation received, someone has questioned the attendance of various Boards of Directors for purposes of a “conversation” as having the potential for Brown Act violations. This past Thursday, I received an email (attached) from LAFCO Executive Officer, Bruce Baracco, providing Brown Act advice. The email indicated: “If you anticipate that any of your Board Members will be participating in the LAFCo Water Forum on October 23rd; County Counsel Thomas Parker (who is also LAFCo Counsel) advises that the Forum announcement should be posted wherever you normally post your public notices for regular meetings of the Board. This way, compliance with the Brown Act will be assured.”
The Brown Act requires a public agency to post a California Codes agenda for its regular and special meetings (See G.C. 54954 & 54954.2 ) . (Attendance at this meeting would be a “special meeting” for all of the agencies, including LAFCO.) The Act requires every agency participating in a meeting to make that posting including meetings that occur outside an agency's jurisdictional boundaries. For greatest public awareness, postings should be at the agency's regular posting locations and at the meeting location. Posting a flyer or an invitation from another agency does not of itself meet the requirements of the Brown Act; the public has no way of knowing if the respective agency's legislative body will be attending that event. The agency has to tell the public via its own agenda posting that it will be attending that event.
Willful violation of the Brown Act is a misdemeanor; by this email LAFCO has advised various Boards of Directors to commit a misdemeanor.
• Using Public Funds to Influence An Election
Richard Shoemaker is the Chair of LAFCO; as Chair of LAFCO presumably he will receive a certain level of prominence in the public's eye for LAFCO hosting this “water forum.” Along with three other candidates, Mr. Shoemaker is also running for election to the RRFC Board of Directors. I am one of those candidates. The election will occur 12 days after this water forum. Aside from my other comments, I think that the Commission has erred in attempting this forum before an election; this has the taint of using public funds to influence an election. I protest.
For all of the above reasons, I am requesting and strongly urging that the Commission, hold a Special Meeting as soon as possible (24 hour notice required) and cancel this ill-considered and ill-advised forum. (Notice requested if you hold this meeting.)
Also for all of the above reasons, should this forum go forward, I will be recommending that my Board not attend and will be urging other Boards to not attend.
Ukiah Valley Sanitation District District Manager
Ed note: Frank McMichael was Executive Director of LAFCO for several years before joining the Sanitation District.
THE BACKPACK CLASS
The September 25 AVA arrived on September 30 — five days! Boonville to 20 miles east of Morgantown, West Virginia, 2700 miles, not always that quick, but almost half the time it is.
What I've noticed lately from my viewpoint which is just below the first rung of the social ladder is a new social class here in America. I'm calling it the “backpack class.” I would place them just above the homeless, bums and mentally-handicapped class. Prison guards are there as they all show up for work with a backpack — men and women. When one becomes a counselor or lieutenant, the lowest level of a prisons middle managers, the backpack is jettisoned.
Children are acclimated into the backpack class from the time they enter school which nowadays is shortly after they learn to walk. By the time they get out of high school their posture alone identifies them in that class, that slight curve. Not all of them however, for those with strong straight backs are, at 18 years of age, ready to enter military service where they will carry 60 pound backpacks. College-bound youngsters carry that class totem also.
In their early 20s when they come out of the military where they truly have been slaves, or out of college, the whole generation has the servile, sub-class mentality derived from following orders and carrying on one's back all the important things in one's life. They seem to have missed the real value of life which cannot be weighed on a scale or packed into a hump on one's back.
Like all classes, one can get out of it. There is social mobility, although it is easier to fall then climb, and the rungs of our social ladder get further apart the higher it goes, so that the uppermost rung is beyond the reach of a mega-lottery winner. There used to be other values to determine one's social ranking. But now it seems to be just money and power. Young adults in their early 20s have the best chance to break out of that humpback class of servitude, albeit only a few do.
If Harvey Wasserman's most pessimistic prediction concerning the Fukushima Reactor #4 comes to be we will all be in another new world class — extinct Homo sapiens.
The prison here is locked down again as overcapacity, inadequate budget and poor management coincide to produce a poor warehouse.
Reading “The Prairie” by James Fenimore Cooper. Cooper is a philosopher at heart. His characters speak too much, too long and too learned for being frontiersmen. I like his philosophy. He was a tree hugger and must have been a friend of Henry David Thoreau, his contemporary.
I see President Putin is now up for a Nobel Peace Prize for staying the hand of our Drone Warrior president, who erroneously was given a peace prize in advance of hoped for peaceful deeds.
The parole board still has not made a decision in my case since my last hearing over a year ago. Eric Holder's “office” says they will consider my case for 60 days (30 are left) deciding even if they will release me after all these 36-plus years.
Wishing all the people well, freedom and health,
USP Hazelton, Box 2000
Bruceton Mills, WV 26525 2000
LOCAL INPUT, LOCAL OUTPUT
To the Editor:
I would like to get a few things off my chest about what is currently playing out at KZYX, Mendocino County, Listener Supported, Community Radio.
I host and produce the show, “All About Money” at KZYX, and I was elected by the station's 2,300 members to its Board of Directors and serve as Board Treasurer. I want to make it crystal clear that the opinions I am expressing in this letter are not being made in my capacity of either programmer or Board member. I am speaking solely as a private citizen.
Concerning the suspended programmer at KZYX, Doug McKenty, and his alleged leadership of an “insurgent group” to replace current management at KZYX, I think this thing with Doug is being blown way out of proportion. KZYX will always have critics. And that's not unhealthy. That's a good thing. A grain of sand in an oyster is an irritant, but nacre builds up around it, and produces a gem-quality pearl. We can do the same thing with a little criticism now and then. We shouldn't back away from it, or get defensive, or be paranoid. And we shouldn't be gruff or rude toward our critics.
Let's remember, too, that Doug was one of our own at KZYX. He was a good programmer. He did good shows, and he had good guests.
And, Doug was once the “most favored son” here at KZYX. Let's not forget that, either. He was very popular. He was a workhorse for KZYX. I think Doug actually had three different shows on our programming schedule at one time. He was the go-to guy. And, he served as the programmer’s representative on the Board of Directors.
That said, Doug's suspension is not a Board matter at this time. I think it must wend its way through the formal grievance process. What happened to Doug is a “dispute” in legal terms, if you want to view it that way. So, dispute resolution is what's required. Let the KZYX General Manager, John Coate, work it out with him. That's what we pay John to do, among the hundred other things we pay them to do.
Let's hope for a good resolution between Doug and John. If it doesn't happen, Doug may have the right to an appeal by the Board (I don't know). In any case, let's hope for the best. And, let's not forget that what all parties have in common — we are all good people, and we all love KZYX.
Concerning another big issue that is playing out at KZYX, the Program Advisory Committee (PAC), I also have some opinions.
I think the PAC is unnecessary. It's superfluous. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, from which KZYX receives some federal funding, requires us to have a Community Advisory Board (CAB).
So, that CAB should be revived, or reinvigorated, or whatever.
And, the PAC should be abolished (in my opinion). There is no requirement to have a PAC, and a PAC seems to duplicate the CAB in may ways.
The requirements for the CAB are clearly described by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in this link: http://www.cpb.org/stations/certification/cert3.html
My 2¢ on programming, in general?
First, we need a lot more local news at KZYX. Five minutes just doesn't cut it. I, and a few other programmers, have tried to fill the gap by doing some shows focused on local issues. But, that's no substitute for 30 or 60 minutes of local news. W need a full-time news director at KZYX. In an ideal world, I would also bring back K.C. Meadows, editor at the Ukiah Daily Journal , who once had a popular show here at KZYX. Nobody knows more about local news than K.C. And, I would also invite Mark Scaramella, major contributor at the Anderson Valley Advertiser , to host a show. Mark does some of the best reporting on local politics.
Second, I think there's a bigger potential problem than the scant coverage of local news.
Almost every public affairs show has a “progressive liberal” bias here at KZYX. Hence, KZYX is perceived that way by much of the public (rightly or wrongly). Personally, I prefer diversity of opinion that reflects the whole of Mendocino County. Folks at the Employers Council or the Farm Bureau should want to support KZYX — not just those who are left of center. We're not “alternative” radio, we're “community” radio. But, that said, I think the fact that 2,300 members and many underwriters support the station speaks to the fact that we must be doing something right. We've met our budget every year for the last five years, and on top of that we erased the $250,000 budget deficit that John Coate inherited five years ago when he started his job as the station's General Manager. That says something about support. Consumers vote with their dollars.
So, let's just continue to do what we do — operate the best little radio station in the NPR universe. And, let's also stay on top of this bias thing.
In conclusion, let's be nice to Doug McKenty and the station's dissidents. They are not enemies. They are critics — critics with their own vision for the station. And, vision should be honored. The real enemy of public radio is apathy, indifference. If listeners don't listen, they don't become members or underwriters. And that is financial death. That's when we pull the plug on what I consider to be two immensely valuable FCC licenses and the opportunity to broadcast to all of Mendocino County and much of the Counties of Lake, Humboldt, and Sonoma. On any given day, at any given moment, we have a potential audience of 100,000 to 150,000 listeners, or more.
It would be unforgivable not to be the public forum for these 100,000 to 150,000 people. A public forum, and an informed electorate, are essential to a democracy. KZYX does no less than to be that public forum and to serve an informed electorate here in our broadcast area. It's a sacred duty. I remind myself of that ever time I sit in front of the microphone and go on-air.
So, let's get on to what really matters most at this point in time — the Fall Pledge Drive at KZYX. I'll be hosting my own Pledge Drive show on Friday, October 18, at 9 am. Hopefully, my guest will be Hedrick Smith. He has been a guest in the past, and he is one of my favorite guests. Hedrick is the long-time Washington bureau chief of the New York Times, and he is also the recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes and two Emmy Awards. In the Ukiah Valley, you can listen to the show at 91.5 FM. Or listen at 88.1 or 90.7 on the coast. We also stream live from the web at www.kzyx.org.
Friday, October 18, at 9 am — it 's a good time to become a member.
During the week of Pledge Drive, we need to grow our membership base from 2,300. We know that only one out of every ten regular listeners become members. The other nine who listen, but don't become members, need to step up. They need to step up, if we are to preserve and protect this very valuable democratic institution.
Of the People, By the People, and For the People — that is what community radio is all about.
DIRT OUT, COURTHOUSE IN?
To the Editor
The Friday, October 4th edition of the UDJ headlines a most deceptive article about cleanup of the site being considered for the new Mendocino County Court House. The casual reader will assume that with this lead: “Courthouse Site Work Begins” we are finally building a replacement courthouse after years of merely thinking about it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
All that is going on is a local dirt mover is trucking contaminated soils from the Railroad Depot on Perkins Street to a disposal site in Suisun over a period of less than two weeks. This is hardly a big deal — even though Guy Mills of the City Manager's staff says “it is good for all concerned to get the land back into production.”
Things must surely be slow at City Hall.
What the UDJ story fails to mention are three major stumbling blocks:
First: No City money has been allocated to continue this work after throwing away $400k on earlier preliminary testing before their cash cow — the (RDA) Redevelopment Act — was shutdown by the State of California more than a year ago. The defunct North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) that owns the land is paying for this little excavation, but that's all.
Second: The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) has placed this new and very expensive new courthouse project on hold due to an extremely tight budget in Sacramento and a less than urgent need for grand new courtrooms locally.
Third: Even should the AOC decide to proceed with the $121 million Taj Mahal courthouse, the rail depot is not the site preferred by the AOC. They want it in the parking lot behind the library.
So what is Guy Mills spouting about with this talk of a “shot in the arm for the community” and cleaning up a “gateway into Ukiah” that the courts will purchase?
As the Editor of the only daily newspaper in town, we rely upon the Daily Journal to smell the hyperbole, ferret out the half truths, and expose the wishful thinking that so often pass for clear headed planning at City Hall.
God I want to put this to rest for me but I can't. Two-ish years ago we tried to make the point that a 10% pay concession, albeit more dollars for the North end of the pay scale, has a much more debilitating impact on the lower end in terms of basic needs. We know that's true and we've heard the testimonials to bring it home. That's why it's so infuriating and disappointing for me to be exposed to the patronage of the upper income workforce. From Carmel, to the BOS, to director's and upper management, it is morally bankrupt for them to tell people to wait another year for some crumb of reparation. The vulnerable, those who haven't left already, and the newly hired are being exposed to insulting complacence by people who refuse to make an overt statement on their behalf. The strike was our way of making that statement; anyone who did not support the strike, excluding those who worked that day to keep food on their table, should be ashamed of themselves. Especially those who are comfortably riding this out with a “be patient” attitude.
A cartoon in last week’s paper refers to the Trivia Quiz and the use of cell phones. This same cartoon appeared in the New Yorker magazine three weeks ago and your paper gave no credit the New Yorker. It would appear the plagiarism is alive and well in your news paper.
Cheers from l'ermitage
Ed note: Proposition: You don't turn us in to the New York pointy heads, we don't tell anyone you sleep through CSD meetings. Deal?.
RINOS GO DODO
This weekend the California GOP is holding their biannual convention in Anaheim. The conversations seem to be mainly about how they can undo the Democrats' supermajority in both houses of the Legislature and elect more Congresspersons plus elect Republicans to statewide offices of which they now hold none. The far right continues to chase out of the party moderate Republicans (i.e., “RINOS” — Republicans In Name Only). Meanwhile their registration rolls continue to drop and the percentage of independents that will vote for them continues to decline.
To speak at their convention on how they can reverse this situation they invited the King of Buffoonery, Governor Rick Perry of Texas. At first, I thought this was some kind of a sick joke but apparently the Cal Repubs believe California should emulate Texas. A state with one of the largest number of uninsured citizens in the country, a low-wage state, a failing school system where creationism is a science, looming budget problems and a state where executions per year exceed all other states and countries except for a few repressive countries like Iran and China.
The California Republican party is going the way of the Dodo bird. In a couple of decades they will be just another minor party like the Peace and Freedom Party and the Green Party.
James G. Updegraff
I am still amazed that Congress, highly paid, well insured and supposedly respected has left the US high and dry. Sure it is primarily the raging Republicans, who like lemmings are grinding their axe into congressional oblivion at our cost many times over. This Congress has serious eroded the due respect between members for a single agenda. The health care program Obama's administration got through and has managed to keep even with this myopic one issue gang raging in the background. House leader Mr. B should be canned at least. He is a bully and his sense of issues insures he never puts his finger in the air.
With regards to "Obama" care, which I would call one step better care, we are at least getting insured if we have previous ailments. I agree that the best is Single payer which would solve so many problems it is hard not to go there. In Europe and Canada it not only makes health care accessible to all, insures that they get care they need without discrimination but it also causes the Federal government to watch what is going on in their country. Such examples as not allowing toxics in Europe to the point of forcing indirectly companies like Mars to remove petroleum based dyes from their famous M&Ms in Europe. The dyes have been causing ADD and many other ailments as documented for over 45 years by the Feingold, confirm by the Lancelot and apologetically acknowledged by the Journal of Pediatrics.
Still the wondrous Mars folks discriminate against Americans still serving the noxious additives including the Vanillan wood pulp substitute for vanilla in the US. Likewise the Gatorade fire repellent issue was resolved by a 15 year old girl using an online petition. Gatorade makers pulled the boron based chemical from that drink but not the other drinks with the same chemical. She is fighting the next battle.
We would undoubtedly see health issues reduce and even RF which is not allowed in some places in Europe for similar reasons would be scrutinized. So a small salute to Obama for standing ground and putting up something that is better than what we had.
Surely though the main expense, the middle man insurers should be removed. It is clear that is what Republicans are truly screaming about. The health care insurers do not like to compete but are playing both ends on this. They lobbied the Pugs hard to kick Obama's, no American left behind (but a few will be,) out. I agree we should kick em out and go single payer. Socialized medicine. Sure just like Socialized police and fire care. Big deal Americans. We work together and frankly I think health is a right, not a privilege. Brain cancer,once an occupational issue is now high and in children as well as any adult. Something wrong out there. Lobbied Congress has forgotten who they really represent and who's money they are spending.
THE YUBA FACTOR
A note to your comments well wishing Supervisor John Pinches a merry Bon Voyage as he leaves the County in surplus: How could he vote and be willing to send $15 million a year of the county's money to Ornter Management Group instead of keeping the money in the county regarding Mental Health. And, as well send all the money that the county would have collected from Medi-Cal and MediCare to Yuba County as well?