Mendocino County Today: October 24, 2013
by AVA News Service, October 23, 2013
TWO BROTHERS, 8 and 6, were killed near Fort Bragg about 6:30pm Tuesday when the 8-year-old driver lost control of the ATV he and his brother were riding, and both boys were thrown from the vehicle and killed. Their names have not been released pending an investigation. The accident happened just off Highway 20 "in the 19000 block," the CHP said. Both boys were wearing bicycle helmets, but not seatbelts.
Approximate location of fatal incident
HUMCO DA MARK GALLEGOS ON POT GARDENS: “It’s like lightning in the rain. We all go out into a rainstorm and
don’t worry about being struck by lightning because the odds of that
happening are so low. Same with our local marijuana growers. With over 4,000 identified outdoor grows they don’t worry about arrest and
prosecution because the odds of it happening are equally low. We need your help on the federal level. Either legalize marijuana or give us the resources to go after the criminals.”
MENDOCINO COUNTY must have just as many — the northern tier of the County has lots of big greenhouse grows — but the industry is somehow less obtrusive, less flagrant in Mendo than it is in HumCo, although at this time of year in, say, the Anderson Valley, you can smell the bud just driving through town. It's all anecdote, really, and I'm adding to the load here by saying the hills where I hike are drier this year than I've ever seen them. Are dope growers diverting more streams than ever? Are the parched hills a result of both the pot people and the grape brigades taking water in historically unprecedented amounts? Global warming? Cyclical weather patterns? Old timers remember the Navarro drying up as far as the Greenwood Bridge, so very dry years are not unprecedented. Clearly, though, there's a radically increased demand for our finite water sources over the past 40 years, and just as clearly, as Supervisor Pinches said to me recently, “I've never seen the criks in my area (Laytonville) dry up like they have this summer. Growers are responsible, no question.”
Duckhorn's Napa Vineyard & Mansion
THE DUCKHORN WINERY, based in St. Helena and Philo, is applying to put 314 acres of Anderson Valley land into tax-free “ag preserve.” The property is presently divided into three parcels. Wine grapes as ag? That's stretch number one. Stretch number two is granting a large tax exemption to a company valued at $250 million and owned by a group of multi-millionaires. (Majority interest in Duckhorn belongs to a private equity firm, the kind of people who brought us the crash of 2008 and are poised to bring us the next crash.
THE EINSTEINS RUNNING SEIU “Local” 1021 (the so-called “local” chapter of the Service Employees International Union, based in Oakland, and who represent Mendocino County's largest bargaining group) are at it again. Last week SEIU distributed a flyer calling for a “BOS Action” to take place October 22 at 9am at the Board of Supes chambers at 501 Low Gap Road, Ukiah. Except, as anyone who pays attention knows, the Supes have been saying for a couple of months that they were planning to have an “off-site” meeting Oct. 22 in Mendocino (aka: trinketville by the sea) to consider the Mendocino Town Plan. The CEO dutifully included info to that effect in her last several CEO reports.
THESE ARE THE SAME SEIU GENIUSES who made the decision to show up for the second day of budget hearings when anyone who follows the county knows that the budget always (at least for the last ten years) gets approved on the first day of budget hearings. SEIU didn't even bother to have anyone in the room to monitor the Supes and hear what Admin had to say about the budget. Next, SEIU called a one-day strike (because they know the employees would not be willing to support a real strike). SEIU brought up two busloads of SEIU members from the Bay Area and Santa Rosa because they feared not enough local members would show up for the picket lines. The strategists at SEIU called for a mass turnout to address the Supes at 1pm the day of the strike. Except (as everyone but SEIU knows) the Supes invariably return from lunch at 1:30. Which meant that the planned 1pm rally, with chants of “S…E…I…U,…S…E…I…U,” (led by the out-of-towners) was held in the Admin Center hallway outside the darkened BOS chambers. When the Board reconvened at 1:30, several SEIU members, again led by the out-of-towners, addressed the Supes.
IF SEIU INTENDED to put a local face on the strike, they stumbled badly (and continue to stumble) by proving over and over again that the SEIU shotcallers from Oakland are completely out of touch with local Mendocino County reality. The local SEIU “leadership team,” which blindly follows the Oakland honchos, are equally out of touch. What does it say about the SEIU leadership when they can't even keep tabs on where and when the Board of Supes meets? And how does it help to have a bunch of “look at me” types from outtahere present themselves as the local face of the union? And how long will it take for the local SEIU members to wake up and realize that SEIU is milking them for their union dues and delivering very little in return? The local employees aren't even allowed to pick their “local” labor reps. Instead, they have to settle for whoever SEIU central sends up from Oakland.
THE SEIU FLYER calling for the BOS Action, at a time and place when the Board doesn't meet, was headlined “WE FIGHT BACK ‘CARMELCARE’ OCT 22!” in an apparent effort to invoke the controversy over the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). And what is SEIU protesting? A proposed 3% to 5% increase in healthcare premiums. Incredibly, SEIU says the proposed increase “would mean hundreds more dollars a month out of our paychecks.” But the county says the increase will only cost about $5 a month. Determining the cost of a 5% increase is a simple math problem, but the County and SEIU are off by hundreds of dollars. Which just shows once again there is a huge gap between SEIU and the County. And no chance that the two bickering sides will reach agreement on anything of substance.
AS IT TURNED OUT, no one from SEIU showed up at the Supes meeting in Mendocino to speak against the health care premium increase (which in any case was not on the agenda.) And because no one was present to represent SEIU, there was also no one to describe the “alternative cost saving solutions” promised by the flyer. Again: SEIU needs to clearly explain what they are asking for and how they think the County should pay for it.
THE SEIU ONE DAY STRIKE came and went like a summer cloudburst, briefly turning the streets and sidewalks purple (SEIU's signature color) but leaving no lasting impression. The day after the strike the only certain result was a day of lost pay for the participants. SEIU said the “unfair labor practice” strike was necessary because the County wasn't willing to bargain in good faith. As proof, SEIU pointed to the “impasse” declaration (meaning agreement can't be reached and further negotiation is futile) delivered to SEIU at the last bargaining session before the strike. SEIU said the impasse declaration was “premature” and the strike was needed to force the county back to the bargaining table. Except SEIU emailed and posted a flyer calling for the strike the week before the impasse declaration by the county.
SEIU SAID THE STRIKE was also needed to send “a strong message” to the county that “if they continue to disrespect us…we could be forced to take further action.” Except a lot of employees joined the one day strike to avoid the personal nastiness that SEIU is known for when co-workers fail to show “solidarity” of the lock-step variety. The bottom line is, SEIU called a one-day strike because they know they can't sustain a concerted action. The employees know they would only be sacrificing their pay with no hope of restoring the 10% cut from two years ago. SEIU has no leverage because most of the SEIU workers are concentrated in social services. We agree they are underpaid for the vital work they do, which makes them just like social workers everywhere. (You know the national pay scales are seriously out of whack when a prison guard with a high school education makes more than a teacher with a master's degree.) But the people who rely on social services, for the most part, are the downtrodden and dispossessed who have given up thinking that the “system” has any relevance for them. These are not the people who will bring pressure on the county to give SEIU what they want.
AND WHAT SEIU wants is a restoration of the 10% pay cut plus a laundry list of other demands that are detailed in the letter declaring impasse, including a prohibition on contracting out; cutting the probationary period for new hires from one year to six months; and making increased premiums for health care a meet and confer issue. In addition, SEIU is demanding “longevity” pay increases of 2.5% at 5 years, 5% at 10 years and 7.5% at 15 years. The SEIU wish list also includes an increase in on-call pay from $2.50 to $4.00 an hour; increased clothing and tool allowances; increased premium pay for bilingual employees; and new benefits for education, training and health. Comparing the County's precarious financial position to the long list of on-going economic demands by SEIU (plus non-starters for the County, like the prohibition on contracting out) and it is clear the two sides truly are at impasse.
SEIU KEEPS TRYING to rally community support, but the shot-callers at SEIU headquarters in the Bay Area are clueless when it comes to community outreach in the outback. The phony Mend Mendocino “coalition,” (organized out of Oakland by SEIU staffer Anna Bakalis) never caught on in Mendo. During the one-day strike, Bakalis dropped the “I'm representing the Mend Mendocino” facade and accurately described herself as an SEIU spokesperson. It also didn't play well when one of the strikers was prominently quoted saying “We just want to live. We can't live on $16 an hour.” But out here in rural Mendo, many hard working people do live on $16 an hour. Or less. And do it without the healthcare, retirement and other benefits that come with County employment. Without the ability to rally community support, far from being a show of power, the one-day strike was really an admission of weakness.
SEIU DEVOTED AN ENTIRE FLYER (headlined “CEO Carmel Angelo Fails Mendocino County”) to bashing the generally popular CEO. The flyer boldly proclaims “Workers to Declare No Confidence in CEO Angelo.” SEIU also said they were starting a petition to have Angelo fired. Attacking the CEO would be a good strategy if there were serious questions about her leadership ability. Or obvious signs of a rift with the Board of Supes, who alone have the power to hire and fire her. But Angelo took the helm when the County had a seemingly insurmountable deficit, a falling credit rating and critics calling for the County to file bankruptcy. During the last few years, the Supes have made mostly responsible budget decisions, but the CEO has provided the leadership to put them in a position to make those decisions.
THE COUNTY ISSUED a post strike press release which included quotes from County Department of Transportation (DOT) Director Howard Dashiell claiming that SEIU reps had been trying for months to convince the DOT workers to strike, even approaching them in the middle of construction zones. (The union has a right to organize before and after work and during breaks, but is not supposed to engage workers on “county time” — doing so in a construction zone is both dumb and dangerous.) But the point here is that SEIU, months before negotiations began, was lobbying its members to go on strike. Neither SEIU (which is following the same adversarial approach that got them nowhere two years ago), nor the County, (which is paying big bucks for an outside labor negotiator/attorney) seem to have learned much of anything from the fiasco of two years ago.
EXCEPT THE COUNTY, instead of ignoring the various attacks launched by SEIU, is firing back this time. Which only shows that the high priced contract negotiator/attorney is feeling the need to justify the cost of her services. The post strike press release from the County also contained a charge by HHSA Director Stacey Cryer that striking SEIU workers were preventing non-striking workers from getting to work until Sheriff Allman and the Ukiah police showed up, a charge that SEIU hotly denies. In fact, SEIU strikers were temporarily blocking driveways and doorways, with a mass of slow moving bodies shuffling aimlessly back and forth. And the scores of SEIU members bused in from outtahere could afford to be more militant without having to worry about facing their co-workers the next day. But, in an effort to discredit SEIU, the County over-reacted to the minor inconvenience caused by the slo mo SEIU shuffle.
THE COUNTY also filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) Charge with the State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) the week before the strike, claiming SEIU was “undermining and sabotaging the negotiations” by bringing uninvited observers to the table. At the next negotiation session the county says the union put out a flyer calling for its members to come to the county admin building “for free tacos” and “to act as our silent observers.” (The union has so little faith in their ability to mobilize their members that a hired catering truck serving free tacos has become a fixture at their demos). Which led the county to charge SEIU with bad faith for inviting a crowd of taco eating observers to the meeting where the presence of observers was to be negotiated. Thus, SEIU “failed to meet and confer in good faith…and [its tactics] constitute evidence of impermissible surface bargaining.” Which is exactly what SEIU says about the county in their PERB complaint.
THE ONLY DIFFERENCE from the hostile negotiations of two years ago is that this time, instead of letting the predictably futile negotiations drag on for over a year, the county declared impasse after only three months of futility. Which saves everyone a lot of time and effort. And which also means the two sides will be going to mediation. But will anything come out of mediation except more fingerpointing?
THE INEPT SEIU leadership has failed to bring any pressure on the County. And the County has shown no leadership in how to break the impasse. And they don't have to as long as SEIU keeps acting stupid. SEIU, instead of attempting to have a serious (and honest) discussion about County finances and what the County can really afford, has staged a series of childish drive-by rhetorical attacks that only push the two sides further apart. And whereas last time the SEIU stall tactics paid off by preventing pay cuts for over a year, this time around, stalling will prevent SEIU members from getting any increase, assuming the county is willing to grant one.
A BAPTIST, a Catholic and a Mormon are hanging out bragging about how big their families are.
“I have four boys and my wife is expecting another,” says the Catholic. “One more son, and I'll have a basketball team.”
“That's nothing,” says the Baptist. “I have 10 boys now, and my wife is pregnant again. One more son, and I'll have a football team.”
“That's nothing,” says the Mormon. “I have 17 wives. One more and I'll have a golf course.”
YESTERDAY IN MENDOCINO, A READER WRITES: The Supes were in town today for the hearing on the Mendocino Town Plan. The dreaded SCRA designation went down in flaming glory thanks to our three inland supervisors. It is the first time I have seen Hamburg throw one of his full fledged tantrums. In fact, he threw two of them. The first was directed at the hapless Planning and Building Staff, none of whom were accountable for the fact that their predecessors failed to implement the SCRA designation when David Colfax pressed through the directive to explore it in 2006. Later on, after his motion failed on a 3/2 vote, he berated his colleagues for not seeing eye-to-eye with him and the bedraggled souls he'd assembled to speak on behalf of the action. Being the functional souls they are, they just waited for the tirade to end and then went on about the business of the day. It was hard to watch. My hat is off to them.
WHY SNOWDEN’S PASSPORT MATTERS
By Norman Solomon
When the State Department revoked Edward Snowden’s passport four months ago, the move was a reprisal from a surveillance-and-warfare state that operates largely in the shadows. Top officials in Washington were furious. Snowden had suddenly exposed what couldn’t stand the light of day, blowing the cover of the world’s Biggest Brother.
Cancelation of the passport wasn’t just an effort to prevent the whistleblower from getting to a country that might grant political asylum. It was also a declaration that the U.S. government can nullify the right to travel just as surely as it can nullify the right to privacy.
“Although I am convicted of nothing,” Snowden said in a July 1 statement<http://wikileaks.org/Statement-from-Edward-Snowden-in.html> after a week at a Moscow airport terminal, the U.S. government “has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.”
Since 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights<http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a14> has affirmed with clarity: “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” The only other words of Article 14 specify an exception that clearly doesn’t apply to Snowden: “This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.”
The extent of the U.S. government’s scorn for this principle can be gauged by the lengths it has gone to prevent Snowden from gaining political asylum. It was a measure of desperation -- and contempt for international law -- that Washington got allied governments of France, Spain, Portugal and Italy to deny airspace to the plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales in early July, forcing the aircraft to land for a search on the chance that it was carrying Snowden from Moscow to political asylum in Bolivia.
Although Snowden was able to stay in Russia, revocation of his U.S. passport has been a crucial weapon to prevent him from crossing an international border for any reason other than to come home to prison in the United States.
Just as the decision to revoke Snowden’s passport was entirely political, any remedy will be political. The law has nothing to do with it, other than giving the Secretary of State the power to revoke his passport.
Unfortunately, that option was established in the case of Philip Agee, the CIA agent who revealed wrongdoing and became a CIA foe. He lost a legal fight to regain his revoked passport when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against him in 1981.
Thurgood Marshall was one of the dissenting justices in that 7-2 decision on Haig v. Agee<http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=453&invol=280>. The other was William Brennan, who wrote that “just as the Constitution protects both popular and unpopular speech, it likewise protects both popular and unpopular travelers.”
Justice Brennan added: “And it is important to remember that this decision applies not only to Philip Agee, whose activities could be perceived as harming the national security, but also to other citizens who may merely disagree with Government foreign policy and express their views.”
Clearly winning the right to travel for “both popular and unpopular travelers” is a political battle ahead. A step in that direction has begun with an online petition<http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=8711> telling Secretary of State John Kerry to restore Snowden’s passport. Thousands of signers have posted cogent -- and often eloquent -- personal comments alongside their names.
“I urge you to immediately reinstate the passport of Edward Snowden, a U.S. whistleblower who has educated the public about threats to our privacy and precious constitutional rights,” the petition says. “Due process is fundamental to democracy. Your revocation of Mr. Snowden’s passport contradicts the words of many U.S. leaders who have often criticized other governments for violating the principle of freedom to travel.” (The petition, launched by RootsAction.org, has gained more than 25,000 signers since mid-October.)
Whether sending missiles across borders or using the latest digital technology to spy on vast numbers of people, the U.S. government relies on military violence and chronic secrecy in an ongoing quest to exert control over as much of the world as possible. The agenda reeks of impunity and arrogant power. Revoking Edward Snowden’s passport is in sync with that agenda. We should challenge it.
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org<http://www.warmadeeasythemovie.org/>
HALLOWEEN TIPS FROM JEFF COSTELLO: For those who enjoy making and displaying jack o'lanterns, here is the secret trick for having the best pumpkin on the block: Get a pumpkin small enough to fit in your freezer — the bigger the freezer, the bigger the pumpkin. The day before Halloween, clean the guts out of the pumpkin and carve whatever face you want into it. Put the hollow, carved pumpkin into the freezer overnight and all day on Halloween. When it gets dark, take it out of the freezer, put the candle in it and light it up. The light is refracted by the ice crystals in the pumpkin's flesh and the whole thing becomes translucent. It's good for two-three hours, depending on the outside temp, before the ice melts.
ON OCTOBER 22 at about 4:45pm, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office received a telephone call from investigators with the Springfield Police Department in Oregon. The investigators advised they were seeking assistance with the capture of an alleged homicide suspect, Sean Patrick Kelley, 23, of Eugene, Oregon, who was currently at a residence in the 3500 block of Primrose Drive in Willits. Investigators advised the Sheriff’s office that a victim of a homicide had recently been discovered in their jurisdiction and the investigators were obtaining an arrest warrant for Kelley. Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to the Primrose Drive residence where they contacted Kelley and subsequently placed him under arrest without incident. Kelley was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he is currently being held on a no bail arrest warrant obtained by the Springfield Police Department investigators. Kelley will remain at the Mendocino County Jail pending extradition to Oregon. All inquires into the circumstances of the homicide are to be made to the Springfield Police Department.
KELLEY is assumed to be responsible for the murder of his mother.
SAVE THE SONGBIRDS!
Help save a hundred-forty million songbirds
Please help save 140 million songbirds every year in Egypt, who are trapped and sold to restaurants by nearly 400 MILES of nets, by signing this petition (http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-massive-bird-slaughter-in-egypt) from Change.org. Please share it with your Friends. Also, please ask your FaceBook Friends to share it with all *their* FB friends. This horror must be stopped! The nets must be taken down! The signed petitions will be delivered to the Egyptian and German governments in late November, so there is still time to get as many signers as possible!
For the Songbirds — Ed Oberweiser, Fort Bragg
MENDOCINO COUNTY SCHOOL GARDENS FACE AN UPHILL BATTLE
October 1 was a big day for Mendocino County’s public schools, but not in a good way: that was the day that each of the county’s 32 school gardens lost funding.
In June, it was announced that Mendocino County’s notable school gardens would be cut from the Network for a Healthy California due to a restructure in how the organization distributes money. Four months later, Garden Enhanced Nutrition Education (GENE) Program Coordinator Terry D’Selkie says they have taken a multi-tiered approach to keep each school’s program afloat, and different strategies are working at different schools.
In the Ukiah area, Parducci and Golden Vineyards have adopted the gardens at Calpella and Oak Manor Elementary Schools, as well as Pomolita Middle School. Employees – many with children in the Ukiah Unified School District – are helping with garden maintenance after school and on weekends. “They think they’re going to be able to grow a lot of food for the cafeteria,” says D’Selkie. If these outreach programs are successful, GENE may invite other businesses to create similar partnerships at more schools.
In Laytonville, an August fundraiser generated an incredible $15,000 for the elementary and high school cafeterias and gardens. This annual crawfish boil has been put on by community organizers for the past seven years, with a different charity or organization receiving the proceeds each year. August’s event drew over 1,000 people. “We’ve never raised this kind of money before,” says Meadow Shere, one of the organizers. Sheere cites both incredible volunteers and the growing reputation of the event for its success, with an emphasis on it being a party rather than a fundraiser. “We didn’t advertise at all,” says Shere. “We put all our energy into making really good food, with local ingredients and animals raised just for this event.” Donated food and beer also helped keep the event’s cost down.
Calpella Elementary School is hoping for a more modest success with its November 1 spaghetti feed fundraiser. All proceeds will go toward keeping a beloved school presence, Julio Pardini, active and working with the students in the garden. Julio has been with the program since its inception 13 years ago.
Another success story is found in the Redwood and Dana Gray Elementary Schools in Fort Bragg. Garden Coordinator Julie Castillo has incorporated those gardens into the culture and curriculum of each school, so that when her position was defunded the school board found money to keep her on. Castillo also does a lot of fundraising for the garden itself, with a plant sale in the spring and a bulb sale in the fall. Castillo says she raises more than ten thousand dollars each year. Despite being in direct competition with local nurseries like Fiddler’s Green, which sells Castillo the bulbs almost at cost, those businesses are positively impacted by the garden programs. “It’s making more gardeners in the world, which supports our local nurseries and other businesses,” says Castillo. She puts a lot of extra time in to make the gardens and fundraisers a success. “You have to make your job your service to your community,” she says.
Other schools don’t have as much momentum. The garden at Frank Zeek Elementary in Ukiah is overgrown with weeds, and vandals cut the fence and covered surfaces with graffiti. The garden at Willits High School is similarly fallow, as are many other gardens around the county.
California is funding schools at a higher rate thanks to Propositions 30, and districts may decide to prioritize school gardens for the 2014-15 school year and beyond. The GENE program is being incorporated into new Common Core project-based learning curriculum as the school year unfolds, which will inspire more teachers to take their students into the garden.
The benefits of the GENE program have been proven time and time again, and if a significant community interest in school gardens and nutrition education is demonstrated to each school board, GENE has a very real chance of thriving once again.
Until then most students will miss out on garden time, and unattended gardens run the risk of being plowed over by groundskeepers. Some schools have partially funded GENE by converting it to an after-school program, but this reaches a fraction of the students who previously received daily or weekly hands-on nutrition education.
For now, says D’Selkie, the goal – beyond fundraising – is to generate awareness of and interest in the program. “Our school gardens benefit the entire community,” she says. It’s advantageous for everyone, she explains, not just students. Hands-on gardening encourages pride of place among our young citizens, and nutrition education is a type of preventative health care. Building healthy habits now creates healthy communities down the road.
Although Laytonville’s school gardens won’t necessarily be the recipient of next year’s crawfish boil proceeds, Shere says that something more important than money was raised. “The energy around doing something good with the gardens has really spread,” she says. For example, the nursery recently donated money and resources to build a greenhouse at the high school. “The event helped galvanize the community to act. Raising people’s awareness showed them how and where they can make a change.”
D’Selkie estimates that the cost to fully fund the GENE program is $25 per student per year. She hopes that in the years to come the schools will prioritize funding for the program, but for this year she’s hopeful that community donations and participation can keep the gardens alive.
To make a donation, look for the School Gardens Fund under the Youth/Education category on the Community Foundation site: http://www.communityfound.org. Or, to support your local school garden, contact your school board or e-mail Terry D’Selkie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Elizabeth Archer