Off The Record

by AVA News Service, October 15, 2013

MENTAL HEALTH ACTIVISTS are appalled that the County's recent privatization of mental health services, always problematical in Mendocino County, seems to have eliminated mental health services in Fort Bragg. The Ortner Management Group, based in Yuba City, now owns those services but there's no evidence they're being provided, as the recent suicide of a Point Cabrillo man has tragically made evident. The Point Cabrillo man could not be referred for help because Ortner Management does not have help in place. "Expect a lot more deaths unless someone does something," a caller told us Monday.

SUSAN KEEGAN'S death in her Ukiah home in 2010 was eventually upgraded to murder. Since there were only two people present when Mrs. Keegan died, and she wasn't alive in the morning, Susan's husband, Dr. Peter Keegan, was, and remains, the only suspect in his wife's brutal demise. Soon after his wife's murder, the doctor hired crack criminal defense attorney, Keith Faulder, an odd move for an innocent man. Here we are three years later. Dr. Keegan, with his starry-eyed new girl friend, Ms. Crawford, remains at his job at the clinic in Covelo, and the case remains “under investigation.” If Joe the Tweaker's wife had died under identical circumstances, Joe would have been at San Quentin two years ago explaining to his new roommates how Mendo had framed him. The late Mrs. Keegan is fortunate in her friends, of whom there are many not only in the Ukiah Valley but throughout Mendocino County. Those friends are determined to get justice for their friend, a woman beaten to death in her own home, and they all keep careful track of the evidence against Dr. Keegan as it continues to mount.

KARYN FEIDEN WRITES — “A PS to last week’s story calling for District Attorney Eyster to subpoena Ukiah attorney and divorce mediator Norm Rosen so that he can talk freely about what happened in his office the day before Susan Keegan’s death: Norm Rosen was the mediator for Susan and Peter Keegan’s divorce settlement. On November 9, 2010, Peter Keegan “went ballistic” with rage in his office as financial terms were being discussed, according to what Susan told at least two friends. One day after that meeting, Susan was dead. DA Eyster, Mr. Rosen is waiting. “Please add this link to the website. www.justice4susan.com.

ELLEN FAULKNER, 74, of Redwood Valley, pled no contest last week to five trespass infractions. Ms. Faulkner was arrested in March, April, May and September for direct action protests against the Willits Bypass. (An infraction is a legal step down from a misdemeanor.) Ms. Faulkner received 35 hours of community service, no probation, no fines, no fees or stay away order. District Attorney David Eyster had initially offered one-year probation, a 20-yard stay away plus $350 in costs. Ms. Faulkner told the court, “I put my body in the way to stop an infinitely greater crime from happening: the destruction of the wetlands. None of the regulatory agencies are holding Caltrans accountable for their numerous egregious violations… they have guns and force, we have only our bodies,” Faulkner said. Ukiah Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman praised Faulkner’s “speaking from the heart” and recognized Faulkner’s belief that what she did was right.

WILL PARRISH of the AVA, also arrested several times at the Bypass protests, will contest his misdemeanor charges before a jury.

MENDO PUBLIC HEALTH announced this week that a person identified only as a “Willits adult” is hospitalized with a confirmed diagnosis of Meningococcemia, aka meningitis. The disease occurs mainly in children, but can also occur among adults, especially those who live in overcrowded spaces. Symptoms include irritability, fever, headache, sensitivity to light, altered consciousness and rash with red or purple spots on the abdomen and extremities. A pre-exposure bacterial meningitis vaccine is available for persons from 11 years to 55 years of age. If you have questions regarding your exposure to meningitis contact Public Health Services at 472-2600.

ON-LINE ADVICE TO THE YOUNG: “I've been working steady for the past 32 years, have never collected unemployment, never been out of work for more than a few weeks, so I feel like I know something about the job market, and I think if a young person just ready to enter the labor force were to ask me for advice, I would say, Don't follow my example. Don't plan on working for a paycheck from now until you retire. Plan on being an entrepreneur. Get your contractor's license, open a muffler shop, open a co-op bakery, start some online enterprise, if that's your thing, just get as far away as you can as fast as you can from the ‘job market’ and the resume game and the promotion game and all of that nonsense. One way or another, you're just going to be exploited, and you'll spend your life working to create wealth for somebody else, not for yourself.”

THE CONSERVATIVE LIBERALS in the tightly-held Democrat apparatus that selects and helps fund candidates for elected office from Marin to the Oregon border, has tapped Healdsburg City Councilman Jim Wood for the Northcoast State Second District Assembly seat presently occupied by Wes Chesbro. Chesbro is termed out, but he's been termed out of other seats, and will be with us forever in one cush sinecure or other, count on it. Wood, a dentist and city councilman in cozy, cosseted Healdsburg, has endorsements from the whole gang of professional officeholders inflicted on the Northcoast all the way back to Doug Bosco.

HEZEKIAH ALLEN of the Mattole Restoration Council and John Lowry, former executive director of Burbank Housing in Santa Rosa, are also candidates for Second District Assembly. The AVA recommends votes for either of them over Wood, if for no other reason than Wood's endorsements by the Bosco apparat, which includes Chesbro, four of the five sitting Sonoma County supervisors, Mike Thompson, Spike Huffman, SoCo DA Jill Ravitch. (Efren Carrillo, the fifth SoCo supervisor had been anointed to succeed Chesbro as Assembly-cipher until he was discovered roaming his neighborhood in his underwear, perhaps because he thought by acting in the Clinton tradition liberals would like him even more.

ALDON SMITH, the 49ers gifted linebacker, has been charged with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon. The weapon's indictment arose out of a thug party at Smith's San Jose home in June 2012, at which Smith later said he had to fire shots in the air to convince people to leave. Smith then picked up a DUI, not his first, three weeks ago, prompting his suspension from the team and a commitment to rehab ordered by the Niners. The Santa Clara County district attorney's office said Smith, 24, still in rehab for drug-alcohol dependency, will surrender on the gun charges on his own later this month. If convicted, he could face up to four years and four months in jail. Make an under-educated young guy a millionaire, a young under-educated guy without a strong family around him, and bad things are inevitable. What's most annoying about the Smith affair, however, is the piety it's basted in, as if children should be looking anywhere but at their parents for so-called role models.

“PROBABLY THE MOST DAMAGING INDICTMENT that can be made of the capitalistic system is the way in which its emphasis on unfettered individualism results in exploitation of natural resources in a manner to destroy the physical foundations of national longevity.” — Henry Wallace, Vice-President of the United States, 1941-1948

CHESBRO got out the following press release last week: Gov. Jerry Brown has signed AB 647, a bill by Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D – North Coast), that establishes clear labeling guidelines for breweries that wish to refill consumers’ “growlers” that were purchased elsewhere, making freshly brewed craft beer more available to consumers. Growlers are glass containers that typically hold four pints of beer. “Consumers would like to reuse their containers, not just at the original brewery but to sample beers from many breweries,” Chesbro said. “Growlers have become an increasingly popular way for customers to buy beer because it allows them to sample and safely transport craft brews to their homes to enjoy. They won’t have to buy a growler for every brewery they enjoy, which promotes the reuse of glass containers.....” And so on blonk jonk cronk in the usual pol-prose.

WES, DRUNK OR SOBER! “647” is cop code for drunk in public, and from his photo Wes looks like he's had too many to drive. Which is fine with us. The guy looks better drunk, more human, like he might actually be having a good time for a change. Go for it, Wes!

THE ADVENTIST CHURCH'S Ukiah Valley Medical Center has begun work on a $41 million expansion. The work will be done by two San Francisco outfits, Herrero Builders, and Jennings, Ackerly Architecture & Design. We are trying to find out if the outside contractors are members of the church, but in-house or not it's another big Mendo job that doesn't do much for Mendo, although an expansion of a for-profit hospital organized as a non-profit charity may be good news for the locals who work there and the people who use it. But the most desirable healthcare model in the County remains the community-owned Coast Hospital in Fort Bragg, presently being mis-managed to where it may also become a for-profit enterprise. But the main diff between the two models is price. For-profit hospitals charge their patients more. Most civilized places recognize the medical care is a human right, not a business op.

SEVERAL ODDITIES in Tiffany Revelle’s account of Tuesday's Supes discussion of Mental Health privatization. (We haven't seen the film of the meeting yet.) Fourth District Supervisor Dan Gjerde seemed to focus on whether Ortner Management Group’s subcontractors were adequately trained on how to file Medi-Cal bills. Gjerde was worried about Ortner’s subcontractors not getting paid. As Ms. Revelle reported, “The consequences of not being reimbursed (are) pretty dire to these small organizations,” Gjerde said, noting that the subcontractors need to know how to accurately report the jobs they do and services they provide. “They could potentially go under if they weren't fully reimbursed.”

ISN'T THAT WHAT the County hired Ortner to do? The County’s contract with Ortner does indeed call for the County to train the contractor, who is Ortner, on MediCal’s complicated billing practices and procedures:

“COUNTY will provide Technical Assistance and Training to ensure that CONTRACTOR complies with all components of Medi-Cal, Medicare, MHP and DHCS oversight requirements, including not limited to: Certified public expenditures; Funding, reporting and contract requirements; 5150 Certification; Invoice training; Medi-Cal match training; Medi-Cal services training; Medical necessity training; All Local, State and Federal laws, codes and regulations related to the provision of Medi-Cal services; Full Service Partnership; Mandated reporting; Documentation training and supervisory documentation review and compliance to regulations; Redwood Coast Regional Centers.”

AND, “CONTRACTOR shall remain fully responsible for compliance by its subcontractors with all the terms of this Agreement, regardless of the terms of any agreement between CONTRACTOR and its subcontractors.”

THE CONTRACT with Ortner does not mention the County training subcontractors as well. If the County has to train Ortner’s subcontractors, why do we need Ortner?

NOR IS the financial stability of Ortner’s subcontractors the responsibility of the County — it’s Ortner’s responsibility. If Ortner subcontracts with Manzanita or Hospitality Center or Ford Street then Ortner must pay them for their billable services no matter what billing problems may arise.

IT'S NOT CLEAR from Ms. Revelle’s report who Gjerde is blaming for the failure to train the subcontractors. But according to Ortner’s Contract with the County, the County is only responsible for training Ortner.

HISTORICALLY, Mendo has had great difficulty getting reimbursed for Mental Health services and in some cases the State audits (usually at least three years or more after the fact) required Mendo to return millions of dollars for services provided, services which turned out not to be covered by MediCal.

NOW WE SEEM to have introduced two new layers of billing processing, with billing being shifted to a few local Mental Health non-profits who may well end up having to eat the cost of some of the services they provide, jeopardizing their existence, while Ortner makes excuses about who’s supposed to train who and how complicated the process is and how slow the state is to pay and how some services are not covered. (Whine, snivel, weasel.)

AND HERE'S the first harbinger of fiascos to come, as reported by Ms. Revelle: “Ford Street asked to withdraw from the contract because the administrative burden on the organization was higher than the amount for which the organization is compensated, Jackie Williams, director of the Ford Street Project, said.”

TRANSLATION: It’s clear to Ms. Williams that the privatization scheme was ill-thought out, and if Ford Street stayed involved, they’d probably lose lots of money. So Ford Street walked.

IN OTHER WORDS, Mental Health Privatization is already starting to unravel. How long will it take for Ortner's other local subcontractors to jump ship?

SUPERVISOR PINCHES' push to get Mendocino County its fair share of Lake Mendocino's water, and get paid for it, elicited the usual cryptic report out of closed session, “Direction was given to staff.”

WHICH STAFF? Which may beg this question: Why can't one or another of our nine attorneys in the County Counsel's office handle all the County's legal business? Why is so much of our legal business contracted out at great expense to local taxpayers when we already maintain a gang of tax paid lawyers at County headquarters on Low Gap Road?

STATEMENT OF THE DAY from Dr. Jack Rasmus, author of “Obama's Economy: Recovery for the Few”: “Yellen as Fed Chair will continue policies no different in content than Ben Bernanke. Yellen will continue to pump Quantitative Easing (QE, or cheap loans) into bankers and investors, stocks and bond markets, global speculators and offshore investors, as had Bernanke. If she really were liberal, she’d take the $1 trillion given them in just the past year of QE3 liquidity injections and use it to fund a government direct job creation program. That would create 20 million $50k a year jobs, and jump-start the economic recovery overnight. But the Bernanke-Yellen policy of giving that $1 trillion (and $12 trillion more) to bankers and investors will instead continue to prop up the stock, bond and other speculative financial markets. And just as Bernanke ‘chickened out’ this past summer when he rapidly backed off suggesting the $85 billion a month QE3 injections might be reduced by modest $5 billion, so too will Yellen go slow, and reverse course quickly as necessary, when the bondholders revolt again at any such suggestion. There will be no fundamental change, in other words, from a Bernanke Fed to a Yellen Fed. As currently structured and led, the US Federal Reserve is an institution serving bankers and wealthy investors. Before the Fed can ever begin serving the rest of the economy, the country and its citizens, it will have to be radically restructured and its leadership democratically chosen. The Federal Reserve will have to be democratized and the bankers and investors totally marginalized from its operations. The Fed will have to become an institution that functions as a ‘public banking entity,’ not a private banking conduit. It will then provide low money cost loans to households, small businesses, students, and workers—instead of wealthy investors, bankers, and speculators. And instead of issuing QE for the latter, it can then issue QE to create jobs, raise incomes, and generate a sustained economic recovery for all instead of a perpetual subsidized recovery for the 1%. But that won’t happen under a Yellen Fed, or under a government led by the dual one-party system in the US today. It will take a new, grassroots movement for real democracy in the US, and a new party based upon that movement.”

ALICE MUNRO is a wonderful writer and an ok choice as Nobel Prize winner for literature. But how about Phillip Roth? Bigger canvas, much bigger oeuvre.

AS FOR Nobel's peace prize — forever fouled by awards to Kissinger and Obama — Malala, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for standing up to them, is the logical choice. But she didn't get it. But she did point out to Obama himself that murdering people in her home country of Pakistan via drones is making terrorists faster that Obama can ever hope to kill.

A READER sent us a copy of the Coast Hospital Foundation’s 2011 tax return, which includes a summary of the finances for the Foundation’s 2011 Winesong! fundraiser held annually to benefit the hospital. According to the tax return, the event had gross receipts of $602,870 (i.e., donations, sales of donated wine and gifts, etc.) and $362,907 in expenses. The $362,907 included $67,593 for rent/facilities, $22,295 for food and beverages, $1,980 for “entertainment,” and a whopping $271,039 in “other direct expenses,” yielding a net donation to the financially struggling hospital of $238,857.

$271,039 IN “OTHER DIRECT EXPENSE”? What’s that? Presumably it does not include purchases of raffle prizes since that would be listed on a separate line item, and it’s not. It’s also hard to believe that facility rental would cost almost $68k. The 990 form does not say who got the $271,039, but it sure looks suspicious.

TWO SONOMA COUNTY public figures of the blandly uninspiring type SoCo politics seems to manufacture have added their names to the list of candidates to replace retiring Second District State Senator Noreen Evans, hardly a heavy hitter herself. (We remember only that she took corporate-paid trips to Hawaii and tried to pass them off as the public's business. But then name a career officeholder who doesn't vacation either on money's dime or ours.) The new blood is exactly the same as the old blood. Only younger, maybe even a little bit phonier, but Thompson et al have set the bogus bar so high, that McGuire and Carlstrom, although they're off to a fast start, will have to hustle to become full-on zircon.

MIKE McGUIRE, 34, is considered the “front runner” simply because he's functioned as mayor of haute bourgeoisie Healdsburg before being elected to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. McGuire has now filed after “discussing his candidacy with a cross-section of political camps,” meaning the dozen or so Democrats who decide all the Northcoast's candidates, and because he has “support among substantial campaign coffers” (sic), according to the Press Democrat. The “cross-section of political camps” turns out, natch, to be Mike Thompson, Spike Huffman, and, and, and..... Sorry, I'm suddenly nauseous, I can't type because my fingers have folded into arthritic claws, and I feel a tightening in my scrotum. Someone is shouting, “Why are you screaming? Shall I call AV Ambulance?” No ambulance, no! Just don't make me type Chesbro and I'll be ok!

THE OTHER “NEW” CANDIDATE is 30-year old Erin Carlstrom, a first-term Santa Rosa city councilperson. Ms. Carlstrom describes herself as a “business lawyer.” On her website she writes at one remove from herself, “Erin is a swimmer with the Santa Rosa Masters swim team. As a four time NCAA All-American athlete, Erin understands the importance of community facilities and recreation programs.” (Who doesn't?) And “Erin knows that support for recreational programs does more than give youth something to do — it develops healthy and prosperous adults.” (It does? How come everyone doesn't go for a dip, then?)

MOVING INTO HIGH FEEB-THINK, Carlstrom's “Oakland-based campaign manager” said the timing of the announcement was to give Carlstrom “some quiet time with her baby,” the ref to infant being the cue for everyone to conjure up images of Mary and the Christ child, sighing in unison, “Awwwwww.” The candidate is currently on maternity leave from the Santa Rosa Council. No mention of hubbykins.

McGUIRE AND CARLSTROM join two previously declared candidates: Senate Staffer Chris Lehman, 36, of Arcata, and Eric Lucan, 32, a Novato City Councilman. It's hard to tell them apart; they all have such nice teeth. Go for the one of them not endorsed by Chesbro.

THERE’S ALSO a sacrificial 70-year old “Republican” named Lawrence Wiesner in the race. Grandpap should be good for some comic relief, the rest of them for humor of the unintentional type.

GOV. JERRY BROWN VETOED A BILL Friday that would have imposed the nation's toughest gun ownership restrictions on Californians, saying it was too far-reaching. The legislation would have banned future sales of most semi-automatic rifles that accept detachable magazines, part of a firearms package approved by state lawmakers in response to mass shootings in other states. Gun rights groups had threatened to sue if the semi-automatic weapons ban became law. “I don't believe that this bill's blanket ban on semi-automatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement on gun owners' rights,” our hypocritical governor said, going on to claim that California already has some of the nation's strictest gun and ammo laws as he signed 11 other firearms bills into law.

COMMENT OF THE DAY: I tell you, I don't envy anybody trying to run an independent bookstore these days, especially not in a pricey venue like Sonoma County where store rents are so high. I mean, were it not for Mr. Harry Potter most of them would have been steamrollered by leveraged-debt creeps like Borders et. al; plenty of them were anyway. Sebastopol is such a money pit that only those shops selling the trendiest of stuff seem to get by, and typically they don't for very long since trends, by their nature, change. The big noise right now is “The Barlow,” a kind of industrial chic mega-mall built in the ruins of the last apple processing plant, and while it's certainly better than a derelict factory, it says a lot about the general collapse of America that economic revival will only come in the form of providing more places for people to spend money, not make money. It's like everybody has forgotten how a community's wealth is actually created — that you take raw materials and apply talent and ingenuity to create something of value from them that benefits as many people as possible in the process. Now it seems to be about luring rich folks north from Marin and San Francisco to buy wine, a pricey commodity produced largely on the backs of expendable and minimally paid Mexicans. “Jobs,” the magic word endlessly touted by politicians, now means benefit-free careers in minimum wage clerking. “Economic recovery” is framed as the need to reduce taxes for the ruling class, already stashing their millions offshore in order to patriotically shirk their tax responsibilities.

CRIME OF THE WEEK, from the Ukiah Police Department: On October 6th at about 9:30 PM Ukiah Police responded to a business in the 100 block of West Standley Street for a reported burglary. Officers found a large object had been thrown through the front window of the business and later determined nearly $3000 in clothing had been stolen. Officers learned the suspect was seen walking across State Street at Standley Street by two off-duty tribal police officers, who noticed the suspect was carrying a very large amount of clothing still with the hangers. Believing the suspect may have stolen the clothing, the officers pursued the suspect, who dropped the clothing and ran. The officers caught up to and detained the suspect near the 200 block of North Main Street. It is believed the suspect, identified as 18 year old Guadalupe Garcia, of Ukiah, was carrying the clothing to a waiting vehicle which had since left. Garcia was arrested for burglary, grand theft, vandalism, and criminal conspiracy. (Ed Note: The 100 block of West Standley is across the street from the County Courthouse. The robbery victim was probably “Boutique 120,” an upscale clothing shop next door to the Patrona restaurant.)

BASEBALL TALK. A READER WRITES: “The TBS announcers drive me nuts. Last night they drove me to bed just about the time they went to extra innings. On my bedroom radio I found what I am sure was the Dodger radio network. It was KCBL out of Fresno at 1340 AM. Vin Scully, who taught me major league baseball in LA in 1957 or so, is apparently doing the first and last three innings, so he must have been gone by the time I tuned in. Another guy, who I assume was Charley Steiner, went the last four innings solo and was so much better than the TV crew it wasn’t funny. He took a little getting used to, but he is knowledgeable and subtle. So if you can find Dodgers radio wherever you are, it is worth a try.”

THE TOUGHEST 72-year-old in NorCal, Gene Penaflor of San Francisco, has survived after being lost for 18 days between Hull Mountain and Lake Pillsbury in the Mendocino National Forest. Penaflor was found by hunters Saturday morning. Tiffany Revelle of the Ukiah Daily Journal provides the details of Penaflor's ordeal: “The San Francisco man who went missing during a hunting trip in the Mendocino National Forest was found alive and well after surviving 18 days alone in the woods. Gene Penaflor's family gathered Saturday afternoon at Ukiah Valley Medical Center after learning that a group of hunters had found him earlier that day and carried him out of the woods on a makeshift stretcher to safety.

“ ‘HE'S GOOD,’ said his youngest son, Jeremy, with a smile. ‘He's just like he was when I saw him last, except his beard grew.’ Since learning last month that Penaflor was missing, his family has been staying in Covelo, the nearest town to the area where Penaflor had been at a hunting camp. The four-day search for Penaflor swelled to include searchers, scent-tracking dogs and equipment from 15 neighboring agencies, according to Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman.

“THERE WERE NO CLUES, we had thoroughly searched the area and there was a weather front coming in,’ said Mendocino County Sheriff's Office detective Andrew Porter of the reasons the search was called off. The weather advisory included snow flurries in the area, which sits at an elevation of 7,000 feet.

“THE MEDICAL STAFF at UVMC reported Penaflor's vital signs were good, according to Jeremy, but hadn't decided whether to release him yet. Porter said Penaflor was ‘laughing and joking around’ and described him as ‘very upbeat’ despite the ordeal, which began September 24 when Penaflor and a hunting partner set off at about 8:30am from a hunting camp a few miles north of Monkey Rock in the Mendocino National Forest. They walked into the Yuki Wilderness down two separate ridges, he said — a technique Penaflor's son Jeremy said his father and hunting partner use to hunt deer.

“THE TWO MEN had planned to hunt for a couple of hours, meet for lunch and resume the hunt on the west side of Road M1, according to Porter. They normally didn't venture from base more than a quarter-mile to half-mile, but for unknown reasons, Penaflor had walked two and a half miles from camp that day, he said. The terrain in the area — upwards of 6200 feet in elevation — is so difficult to navigate that it's classified as ‘types one and two,’ according to Porter. He described it as ‘very steep, rocky and treacherous,’ and as being prone to runoffs.

“PENAFLOR fell and lost consciousness. He woke to find fog surrounding him and a cut on his chin, and, afraid of infection, he opted to stay where he was near a water source for the night, according to Porter. That night he built a fire and set up a makeshift shelter of leaves underneath and above him for warmth. He woke to more fog and zero visibility again the next morning, and on Wednesday afternoon, Penaflor saw a helicopter. He put damp leaves on his fire to send a smoke signal, but the helicopter's crew didn't see him. Penaflor saw a helicopter the next day, and he tried again to flag it down with the same result, according to Porter.

“'I ASKED HIM why he didn't just walk back up the hill, and he said he didn't have enough energy to hike back up’, Porter said.

“MENDOCINO COUNTY Search and Rescue responded September 25 after an initial misunderstanding about whether Penaflor had gone missing in Lake County or Mendocino County, and the search was called off September 28, according to Porter.

“‘IN THE DAYS that followed, Penaflor ate squirrels, lizards, a snake, berries and algae he knew to be safe. He saw deer but didn't shoot them because he lacked the energy to do so, according to Porter. ‘He knew at some point he was going to die, but he figured he'd last as long as he could,’ Porter said.

“AND SURVIVE Penaflor did, conserving what food he could kill and cook, keeping his nighttime fire's embers hot under leaves during the day, conserving bullets and staying hydrated until he saw what he described as ‘an army of hunters’ Saturday and flagged them down with smoke from his fire. They made a stretcher from tree branches and their coats, according to Porter, and carried him to safety. ‘He told me he learned a lot about himself through this,’ Porter said.

“SHERIFF ALLMAN thanked the many agencies and the people in them who responded to Mendocino County to help in the search.

“‘IT WAS HARD on the family,’ Jeremy said. ‘I knew my dad would do what he needed to do to survive, even if it meant eating squirrels or the occasional bug. I had faith that my dad was still alive. With the knowledge that he had, and what he knew how to do, 14 days was nothing to him. I think after 14 days, I would have freaked out’.”

SKEPTICAL ON-LINE COMMENT included, “There is something fishy about this story. I know this area quite well, and yes it's rugged but it is not THAT remote. If the man had followed ANY trail or the river for about 3 miles he would have been out of there, or on a forest road. If he spent 17 days in there and was sufficiently aware to hunt and live off animals then he was there because he wanted to be, not because he was” lost in the wilderness". And, “Money says he was poaching black bear.” And “Anybody who survives the Philippines can survive anywhere.”

WILLITS WATER looks bad, tastes bad and, we now learn, is bad. The State Department of Public Health says Willits' agua exceeds the legal limit of haloacetic acids (HAAs), not that they will necessarily harm residents of the Gateway to the Redwood Empire. These acids typically derive from the chlorine added to water supplies to cleanse them of the real bad bacteria. Willits, by the way, is presently building a new water system. (Halo-acetic is technically the combination of a halogen — chlorine, bromine, etc. — with acetic acid (aka vinegar). Vinegar is a breakdown product of simple organic compounds after exposure to certain bacteria. According to the EPA, there “may” be an increased risk of cancer as a result of long-term consumption of water with levels of HAA’s that exceed the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) set by the EPA. Haloacetic Acids are classified by the EPA as a Group 2B cancer classification — possibly carcinogenic to humans — because there is evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals, but there is either no evidence or not sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in humans.)

STATEMENT OF THE DAY” The Obama team isn’t worried that Joe Homeowner won’t be able to refi his mortgage or that the economy might slip back into recession. They just don’t want to see Wall Street take it in the shorts again. That’s what this is all about, the banks. Because the banks are still up-to-their-eyeballs in red ink. Because they still don’t have enough capital to stay solvent if the wind shifts. Because all the Dodd Frank reforms are pure, unalloyed bullshit that haven’t fixed a bloody thing. Because the risks of another panic are as great as ever because the system is the same teetering, unregulated cesspit it was before. Because the banks are still financing their sketchy Ponzi operations with OPM (other people’s money), only now, the Fed’s over-bloated balance sheet is being used to prop up this broken, crooked system instead of the trillions of dollars that was extracted from credulous investors on subprime mortgages, liars loans and other, equally-fraudulent debt instruments. This is why the media is pushing so hard to end the debt ceiling standoff; to preserve this mountainous stinkpile of larceny, greed and corruption run by a criminal bank Mafia and their political lackeys on Capital Hill. That’s what this is all about. — Mike Whitney

(THE FOLLOWING controversial op-ed was submitted to Kym Kemp by a grower who we know is currently being prosecuted for marijuana cultivation. Because of the situation, we have allowed this piece to be offered anonymously. — Kym Kemp, Courtesy, LostCoastOutpost.com)

* * *

For those of you who believe that the marijuana industry in Humboldt County should be eradicated, I’m sure that title sounds ludicrous. For those of you who feel that the grower’s greed pays no hindrance to the ruination of the environment, nor to criminal or tax law, I’m certain your gratitude is non-existent. However, many of you, whether you know it or not, owe anywhere from a handshake, to a big fat hug, to the marijuana growers in your community.

If you own property, your property values have been directly and indirectly propped up by the marijuana industry. Growers pay for land in the hills that would otherwise be relatively worthless. Those higher land values trickle down the rivers to the coast and indirectly influence the value of everyone’s land. The bloated rents that growers pay indirectly influence the rent that you can charge for your property, whether you allow growing or not. The rent that you can collect from non-growers is influenced by the general rental market, which is bolstered by growers. The dollars that growers claim on their taxes allow them to buy homes that they can afford to maintain and appoint well. If you don’t think there’s an immaculate home in your neighborhood that is fueled by marijuana dollars, then you are sadly naive.

If you own a small business in HumCo, a staggering percentage of your business comes from marijuana. Whether you sell gas or Halloween costumes or couches or plant nutrients or burritos or jewelry or beer, you’re profiting from the marijuana industry.

If you’re an environmentalist, consider that the majority of outdoor growers are making organic compost and fertilizer teas to feed their plants and are vigilant about their water usage. Much more so than half of the coast-dwellers that water their lawns and get their water from the same watershed. What’s more important is how growers manage their land. Most have implemented or are converting to a three-acre exclusion. If any of you think that the gold, sheep, or timber industries were only clearing three acres out of a 180-acre parcel, or if any of them were better stewards of the land than the marijuana industry, I’d love to hear your argument. I’ve seen some scary GoogleMap satellite shots, but none as scary as a clear-cut mountainside that the timber industry was so fond of, and some of the more egregious marijuana grow satellite shots are still less than three cleared acres. Yes, they look messy from the air. Water tanks, tarps, downed trees not bucked up, but even the worst grows pale in comparison to what other industries have done to the forest, and even the guy down the street from you with the cars in his backyard and the sofas in the front looks worse than a MJ grow from the air. Let’s not forget that this is private land we’re talking about.

If you like people to pay their share of taxes, then look no further. I’m certain that most growers don’t claim all they make to the feds … as certain as I am that most restaurant owners don’t either. They finance homes and cars … they claim taxes … as much taxes as any self-employed individual or small business owner does. So they cheat the feds a little. What do they do with the extra cash? They buy property at bloated prices, bloated prices that they created themselves, and pay property taxes accordingly. They buy mountains of soil and amendments, they buy expensive equipment and trucks, they buy dinners out, they buy gas and propane and diesel and it’s all bought locally. You forgot about sales tax, didn’t you? I’m going to venture a very conservative estimate that each of those 4,000 grows out there spend $4,000 on soil and amendments per year. That’s $16 million, which renders $1.2 million in taxes, not counting undocumented grows, indoor grows and my own conservative estimate … just for dirt. When you start extrapolating the myriad of other sales tax dollars that growers pour into our economy, don’t you also wonder why the HumCo Drug Task Force works so hard to stamp them out? After all, they’re biting the hand that feeds them.

I’m well aware of the negatives of growing. We all are. They’re well documented by the Humboldt County Sheriff press releases and, in turn, regurgitated by the various news sources. For those of you who drink this Kool-Aid and believe that the marijuana industry should be eradicated, I hear you. But, unless you’re also a home owner willing to live through another drop in home values, or an environmentalist truly willing to give the land back to another industry, or a business owner who won’t take money from a grower, I won’t believe you, and you should still at least offer a firm and friendly handshake to the silent majority who have allowed this industry to support you for so long.”

THESE OPINIONS prompted a deluge of on-line responses, a majority of them negative, this one typical: “Huh? Growers claim they are keeping up our roads and we're all moochers. The reality is that Humboldt is mooching off of the rich parts of the state. And of course, I pay state income taxes on ALL the money I make in a year, it would be nice to get to “decide” how much in taxes I wanted to claim, but since I have a real, legal job, I pay all the taxes I owe. I pay at least $300 a year in local sales taxes, but I'm not writing about how grateful you should be to drive on the road I'm funding? That $1.2 million they cite in sales tax pays for less than a mile of road. Again, growers distort the economy, don't pay their fair share in taxes (relative to their income) and then whine about how the rest of us should be grateful.”

HUMBOLDT COUNTY'S DRUG INDUSTRY is much more evident in that the persons seemingly attracted to the area because of marijuana are part or full-time street people in Garberville and Arcata. Hard drug users are all over the place in Eureka, but I speak here only as a drive-through guy. But if you see them simply driving through, well, there are lots of them. Here in bucolic Mendocino County, street people don't seem to cluster in the numbers they do in Garberville and Arcata, although there are plenty of them in Ukiah, Mendocino and Fort Bragg. Willits? Those I see seem to be simply moving on through.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *