Mendocino County Today: November 6, 2013

by AVA News Service, November 6, 2013

THE MAMMOTH CASINO at Rohnert Park opened Tuesday. A joyous mob massed outside ran through the opening day doors to sit at 3,000 slot and video poker machines, blackjack tables and a variety of card games.

Casino-Floor

THE $800 million Graton Resort & Casino is owned by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. The casino's general manager, Joe Hasson, told AP, “We've built it for convenience, access and accessibility, and then we've added quality to a level the market has not seen before.”

CALIFORNIA is home to more than 60 Native American casinos that produced about $6.9 billion in revenue in 2011, according to a recent report about the industry by economist Alan Meister.

RIVER ROCK CASINO, 30 miles to the north, also draws heavily on Bay Area gamblers. It is likely to be negatively affected by this huge casino in Rohnert Park less than an hour from the Bay Area's six million people. Mendocino County's casinos seem to draw, and depend on, a mostly local clientele.

THE 340,000-square-foot Rohnert Park casino, apart from its slots and card tables, will feature four full-service restaurants, nine “casual dining options” and three bars. About 2,000 people will be employed full-time. The whole show is managed by Las Vegas-based Station Casinos.

THERE ARE 1,300 people enrolled with the Graton Rancheria tribe. Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo tribes had their federal recognition restored by an act of Congress in 2000. They signed a gambling compact with the state last year and successfully fought off a lawsuit by opponents who argued that a road-widening project was not exempt from state requirements for an environmental study and would endanger the threatened California tiger salamander. Casino critics, more generally, raise concerns about gambling addictions and, at Rohnert Park, traffic problems.

THE GRATON TRIBE will contribute $25 million to Sonoma County parks and open space and has agreed not to develop a casino on any other land it acquires in Marin or Sonoma counties, said Gret Sarris, tribal council chairman. Sarris is also a well-known writer.

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IT CAME AT THAT TIME to be the duty of a certain public officer to inquire into a charge made against a seemingly respectable man in the far west of Ireland, purporting that he had appropriated to his own use a sum of twelve pounds sent to him for the relief of the poor of his parish. It had been sent by three English maiden ladies to the relieving officer of the parish of Kilcoutymorrow, and had come to his hands, he then filling that position. He, so the charge said — and unfortunately said so with only too much truth — had put the twelve pounds into his own private pocket. The officer's duty in the matter took him to the chairman of the Relief Committee, a staunch old Roman Catholic gentleman nearly 80 years of age, with a hoary head and white beard, and a Milesian name that had come down to him through centuries of Catholic ancestors — a man urbane in his manner, of the old school, an Irishman such as one does meet still here and there through the country, but now not so often — one who above all things was true to the old religion. Then the officer of the government told his story to the old Irish gentleman — with many words, for there were all manner of small collateral proofs, to all of which the old Irish gentleman listened with a courtesy and patience which were admirable. And when the officer of the government had done, the old Irish gentleman thus replied:

“My neighbour Hobbs” — such was the culprit's name — “has undoubtedly done this thing. He has certainly spent upon his own uses the generous offering made to our poor parish by those noble-minded ladies, the three Miss Walkers. But he has acted with perfect honesty in the matter.”

“What!” said the government officer, “robbing the poor, and at such a time as this!”"

“No robbery at all, dear sir,” said the good old Irish gentleman, with the blandest of all possible smiles; “the excellent Miss Walkers sent their money for the Protestant poor of the parish of Kilcoutymorrow, and Mr. Hobbs is the only Protestant within it.” And from the twinkle in the old man's eye, it was clear to see that his triumph consisted in this — that not only had he but one Protestant in the parish, but that Protestant should have learned so little from his religion.

— Anthony Trollope, 1847; from “Castle Richmond”

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DEAR PACIFIC SEABIRDS GROUP BOARD,

Is Pacific Seabirds Group a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation?

The Spring 2010 newsletter claims it is:

http://www.pacificseabirdgroup.org/publications/PacificSeabirds/VOL_37_1.pdf

: page 1, paragraph 2.

However, Pacific Seabirds Group isn't listed at the State Registry of Charitable Trusts:

http://rct.doj.ca.gov/MyLicenseVerification/ : go to fourth bullet and click the link titled "here to search for a Organization.”

Also, any notice of exemption as such is missing from your Articles of Incorporation:

http://pacificseabirdgroup.org/downloads/PSG_AOI.pdf

According to the Packard Foundation, they donated $50,000 to your organization in 2010:

http://www.packard.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/2010-Statement-29.pdf :

page 540, last line.

That donation was reportedly sent to P.O. Box 324 in Little River, CA.

However only last tax return I can find for your organization is for 2001:

https://bulk.resource.org/irs.gov/eo/2003_08_EO/91-0977708_990_200209.pdf

The California Secretary of State has your organization registered as a for-profit corporation:

http://kepler.sos.ca.gov

Is the Packard Foundation aware of this?

— Scott Peterson, Mendocino

PS. Dear Pacific Seabirds Group Board,

I finally found your 501(c)(3) registration in Hawaii. So that's okay.

I'm still a little confused about the $50,000 contribution from the David & Lucile Packard Foundation in 2010.

According to your audited 2011 tax return, it never received that money.

But the Packard Foundation reports making it.

http://rct.doj.ca.gov/MyLicenseVerification/ : go to fourth bullet and click the link titled "here to search for a Organization.” Then enter "The David and Lucile Packard Foundation" in the organization field, select CA in the State field, and hit the search button. That should return a link to that Foundation's records.

The third item from the bottom of the group titled "Related Documents" is titled "IRS Form 990-PF 2010.” Hit that link, and you'll get the Packard Foundation's 2010 tax return. At the bottom of page 540, you'll see the entry for "Pacific Seabird Group" and the $50,000 donation. This is under Statement 29 titled, "Grants and Contributions Paid During the Year.”

Now let's go look at your tax returns.

http://rct.doj.ca.gov/MyLicenseVerification/ :

go to fourth bullet and click the link titled "here to search for a Organization.” Then enter "The Pacific Seabird Group" in the organization field, select HI in the State field, and hit the search button again. That should return a link to your organization's records.

Using the same procedure, find your tax return for 2011. At the top of page six is a schedule of grants and contributions received for the same time period. But the $50,000 from the Packard Foundation isn't there.

I hope you can find that missing money.

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PUBLIC SQUALOR

by Bruce Patterson

“And sadly enough, Capital is so fluid that a threat to any investment seems to be a threat to all investments. Therefore newspapers that represent sizable investments are tempted to shy off and shiver when in Congress… or City Hall… a man or a group threatens an investment in any kind of patent medi­cine, in any kind of holding company, misbranded food, railroad security, good or bad. It is no longer the advertiser who puts on the pressure. It is not even the boss who begins to quake. It is the whole middle and upper structure of society.”

— William Allen White, 1938

* * *

There’s something the Piped Pipers forgot to tell us as they lured us toward of our own private con­sumer Nirvanas. Since there is nothing under the sun more pathetic than a solitary individual, to make the individual the beginning and end of all things is to abolish the concept by denying its essential nature. When individuals are so atomized that truth becomes whatever some fool, demagogue, lobbyist, gangster or political party wishes to make it; when marriages, families, and communities cannot be held together and nobody can stay put, or stop the ground from shifting under their feet, or raise a voice when wronged, what is left but fear and appetite? People nowadays have no say because, beyond their willingness to militantly defend what they perceive as their own private interests, they have nothing to say. “We” no longer has meaning because it doesn’t include us.

So it makes sense that the Federales should have more power in determining the fate of Anderson Valley than the people living here do. I’m not talking about the Big Picture, either. Although it is worth noting that living in the belly of a global empire ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. What I’m talking about is our utter helplessness right here and right now. For starters, take a look at that long-faced wooden fire­trap defiling downtown Boonville. Drive through Boonville and you can’t miss it. For over a quarter of a century I’ve watched that slum rotting into the sidewalk Over the years Bruce, Mark and others have repeatedly complained about it in print. Yet still it remains. Since the derelict building is not just a foul eyesore but also a clear and present danger to the public—a virtual Molotov cocktail set to be thrown at the crowd of nearby wood framed houses and the people living within—the owner of that property should be considered Boonville’s Public Enemy Number One. He’s also Boonville’s most prominent and influential citizen since northbound tourists, who are often in a buying mood, just love getting welcomed to our fair metropolis by having that slimy slumlord mooning them with his rat infested garbage pit. Makes the tourists want to stop in Boonville and buy lunch.

So, what is this, Chicago? Whose palms are get­ting greased? How much money does it cost per month or year to earn the right to pose a lethal threat to sleeping children? Or maybe the slumlord gets away with it for religious reasons. If there are no human rights beyond property rights, then there is no community to consider. So the CSD, the fire chief, sheriff, building inspector, DA, Grand Jury, the Chamber of Commerce, the Grape Growers, the neighbors and passersby—everybody knows the slumlord has money and so he’s protected by God.

Now that Highway 128 through Boonville has been transformed from a backcountry road into a buzzing tourist corridor, low long will it before a child gets squished by a car speeding through town? How easy would it be to set “pedestrian crossing” signs into the center lines of Boonville’s crosswalks? How much money would it cost to install flashing yellow lights and digital speedometers like they have in Philo and other towns getting overrun with speeding traffic? It’d cost about as much as one square thumb of new highway bridge or one square rod of freshly planted grapes. Yet don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen.

Boonville wishes to become a tourist destination and yet anytime a tourist stops the first thing he or she is confronted with is doors with signs announc­ing, “No Public Restrooms.” And if the tourist asks the retail clerk where he or she might find one, as often as not they’re told there are none. This even though there are spacious public restrooms right there in the fairgrounds. There’s even a marquee that could be used to advertise “free public restrooms.” Now what cheaper and better way is there to throw out the welcome mat? The answer is that there is none.

If you were a community organizer arriving in a new town, the first thing you’d do was find out who has the money. Once you’d ascertained that then you’d know who was calling the shots and who you needed to deal with. Yet, in Boonville, even the mer­chants are helpless. To get access to the public restrooms they’re paying for they’d have to file the equivalent of an Environmental Impact Report. They’d probably have to hire lawyers and consult­ants, take out insurance, get bonded, piss in a bottle and Lord knows what else. So the merchants throw up their hands and they tack up their signs. Like with being forced by the Federales to maintain and account for saucers with shifting piles of worthless pennies, shooing away squirming, knock-kneed little girls is just another cost of doing business. It sure beats having to contend with what could be the Chinese Communist Party under Kafka.

When putting two and two together becomes an obstacle course; when removing a fly from your hair becomes a marathon; when getting any type of accounting is like pulling teeth out of a chicken, it’s worth wondering how folks came to be so helpless. Is it possible that when you lose your sense of The Commons you lose your common sense? Must mole­hills always become mountains and mountains mole­hills? The fundamental issue in Anderson Valley is the health of the creeks but, like with the rest of the natural environment, or “we,” the creeks have no chips in the game. So to speak of who is getting the water, how much, what for and at what cost is taboo. The water is public property that is being diverted to lawful private use and that’s final. While it would cost a pittance to restore the salmon and steelhead to their rightful places in the local creeks, nobody can bring themselves to even think about it seeing all of the unpleasantness it would cause. Yet, looked at from a positive standpoint, maybe our children hav­ing to grow up along depleted, poisoned, sterile creeks will be good for them. Like us, they won’t know what they’re missing. There are no Environ­mental Impact Reports for souls.

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IF YOU CAN’T LICK ’EM, CLICK ’EM

by W.E. Reinka

My yearning adolescent eyes kept returning to the catalogs smudged page showing the Pflueger bait casting reel. The reels shiny green casing matched the shiny green northern pike I anticipated reeling in with its precision gears and the green stamps it would take to own it.

Bless my mother, she was ready to sacrifice her own dreams of a yellow Melmac serving platter or harvest gold electric can opener by relinquishing the family trading stamps to me. Unfortunately, Mother’s supermarket offered Gold Bond stamps, not S&H Green.

Then I learned a woman across town dealt in stamps. A cagey broker, she set the rate of exchange at three Gold Bond books for two S&H. I rode the 14 blocks to her kitchen headquarters on my bike. We made the exchange. A trip to the S&H Redemption Store transformed the ethereal Pflueger reel into reality.

Mention S&H Green Stamps (or Gold Bond, Tru-Value, Blue Chip or Plaid Stamps) to anyone who remembers the 1950s and 60s and you’re bound to get a story like mine. The trading stamp boom hit its peak in the years after World War II when retail outlets — mostly grocery stores and gas stations — built customer loyalty on giveaways.

Dreaming of four-slot toasters, collectors would lick stamps and paste them into bulky books. Back in 1964, S&H Green Stamps printed three times as many stamps as the US Post Office. The S&H catalog became the largest single publication in the US. Communities even pooled stamps for civic projects such as a new school bus.

Then came the 1970s oil embargo. Gasoline prices soared. Sometimes we could only buy gas on odd or even days. Meantime, supermarkets, under pressure from discount chains, had to cut costs. Trading stamps took a licking.

But they never died. S&H Green Stamps still main­tains six redemption stores in outposts like Jefferson, Texas, and Hazard, Kentucky. Equally far-flung truck stops from Watertown, New York to Broken Bow, Nebraska, still display the tiny green S&H sign, hoping to attract big rigs that fill up with hundreds of dollars of diesel.

In 1999, Walter Beinecke, the great-grandson of Thomas Sperry (the S in Sperry & Hutchinson, or S&H) revived the ailing operation as S&H greenpoints. Available primarily from a half dozen grocery chains scattered around the country, shoppers generally earn 10 points for every dollar’s worth of purchases. Greenpoints work like stamps without all the slobber. As with frequent flyer miles, computers track everything. Instead of turning in books at redemption centers, customers click on merchandise at the greenpoints website, paying only ship­ping and handling.

The most popular catalog item is the large George Foreman Grill which runs 40,800 points or a little more than $4,000 worth of groceries, less than a year’s shopping for most folks. The cheapest item in the catalog, a silver-plated photo album, will set you back just 1,000 greenpoints, while the most expensive, a 36 Panasonic picture-in-picture TV set, runs 1,026,000 greenpoints.

The privately-held corporation remains mum on whether three million users in eleven states yield a profit, but they hint that more grocery chains, users and states will soon be added to the growing greenpoints family.

Meantime, if you find any Green Stamps behind the kitchen drawer, they’re still good. Call S&H customer care at (800) 435-5674 and they’ll explain how to convert stamps to points so that you, too, can click, not lick, your way to free merchandise.

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