Off the Record 2/10/2010

by AVA News Service, February 12, 2010

ONE RUMOR I hope isn't true has a group of inland libs associated with the County's foster home system making plans to bring twenty or so Haitian orphans to Ukiah where they would be plugged into the foster system. As hellish as Haiti may be, Mendocino County's “helping professionals” are twice as menacing.

IN THE DAILY DELUGE of press releases, one reached out with a chloroform-soaked rag to begin, “The Regional Council of Rural Counties…” Fighting to remain conscious, I read, “Wes Chesbro” and slumped to the floor. When I came to I learned that assemblyman Chesbro, serial occupant of highly paid public positions out of his alleged home in Arcata for what seems like the past thousand years has been named Legislator of the Year for 2009 by rural counties where aspiring Chesbros occupy the power slots. You can be forgiven if you didn’t know that Chesbro “worked closely with rural county staffs in the discussions of water policy and opposed legislation to impose a difficult new mandate on rural counties for groundwater monitoring.” Two phone calls and a no vote. How exhausting. Wes must have put in a lot of OT on that one, especially considering that he also “sought to ensure that counties receive federal mental health services funds in an expedited manner” and also worked “to ensure....early release of state prisoner proposals contain adequate protocols with counties.” 

ON TUESDAY JANUARY 26, the Board of Supervisors spent the entire afternoon on three (that’s 3) rezone requests. All three were supposed to have already been approved under the General Plan’s fast-track process and had already been approved by the Planning Commission. But supervisor McCowen declared that the years-long process the applicants had gone through was only a “thumbnail” review. He said some of the neighbors objected to the proposed rezones. So why did the Planning Commission approve them? Why did the (previous) Board invite the applicants to use the fast-track process if there were objections?  

PLANNER PATRICK FORD took almost two hours describing the re-zones in excruciating detail. Then the objecting neighbors ran through their complaints for another hour. Then the Board discussed them for another hour, deciding to approve one and not the other two. It took four long hours three “fast-track” rezone requests with potentially a couple dozen more to come, and so much for the fast track process. 

FRIDAY ABOUT two in the afternoon, I headed west on Market Street for what I call my Up and Over — up Market, up 17th, down Stanyan, left turn through the gauntlet of dope dealers at Haight and Stanyan, past Hippie Hill and a couple hundred young derelicts, past the tennis courts, north on 7th to Kaju where the counter girl was deep into her Korean-English Bible, an island of wholesomeness after a traverse of much of The City's demographic, from clumps of open air criminals through serene neighborhoods of Whole Foods shoppers. Setting out from Bush and Kearney, I was soon on Market where, near Fourth and Market, I saw a large placard declaring, “Obama is a cracker.” Larouchies! If you don't know the Larouchites I'll save you research time by telling you they're a cult led by a one-time Trotskyite and convicted swindler named Lyndon Larouche who says the whole global show is a conspiracy, a conspiracy which includes the Queen of England as a drug dealer. The Larouchies are so far out even the Building 7 people think they're whacked. Two young Larouchies, one black the other white, manned the Larouche table with the inflammatory denunciation of Obama as a cracker. They were besieged by a half dozen angry black men and a stylish young black woman who was lifting her Nordstrom shopping bag up and down like she couldn't quite decide whether or not to swing it at the Larouchies. The white Larouchie was a bulge-eyed nutcase, a cartoon quality fanatic, the black Larouchie an apologetic-looking kid who seemed to be having serious second thoughts in the face of the deluge of insults he was taking from his fellow ethnics. If a pair of uniformed cops hadn't been standing nearby the two Larouchies would have been smacked around, I'm sure. Market Street isn't the kind of venue where you want to get into arguments with passersby. Or street nuts. Or Larouchites. But I helped myself to a leaflet and, adopting what I thought was the therapeutic tone I've learned as a long time resident of Mendocino County, announced that I thought calling the president a cracker wasn't the way to “enhance dialogue.” The black Larouchie, nonplussed, stared back at me. The white nut called me a double fascist. “You are a fascist,” he said, “an obvious fascist.” That had been his response to all his critics. It isn't right to call the president a cracker, I insisted. Two black guys encouraged my line of flab-think. “That's right,” they said, as I added that Obama was certainly not a cracker, of all things. At which point a round black guy, pointing happily at me, shouted trimphantly at the Larouchies, “See mothafuggas! Even this cracker say you wrong.” I walked on, vindicated. 

SO FAR, even after a big media outreach campaign, the Planning Department’s permit amnesty program has seen exactly ONE (1) person apply. Now that the outreach campaign, which consisted of a few insta-chlor (instant chloroform) press releases scattered among the pages of unread press releases that comprise Mendocino County's print media, and one brief narcoleptic segment on KZYX, future applications for amnesty are likely to be less than one. Although the Planning Department's Gonzales and Co. will waive the “investigative fee” involved in catching you with your permits down, you still have to pay the County’s permit fees, which aren't waived and are very expensive. And unless your building is already up to code and you absolutely have to get a permit so you can sell your house, there’s no real incentive to fess up and apply for this “amnesty.”  

THE COST OF BLATHER. At a typical Board of Supervisors meeting you have the CEO, the Assistant CEO, the Board Clerk, five Supervisors, County Counsel, one department head speaking and one or two more in the bullpen warming up their interfaces and paradigms, with maybe five other County staffers sitting in the audience available to back up bossy-wossy. Not counting various County staffers who stop work to listen to the meeting on-line, well, your tax dollar at work. We calculate that each minute of Board meeting time costs the taxpayers at least $12. So ten minutes of Colfax or Smith or McCowen free associating to no audible purpose runs us $120 or more. (Pinches and Brown say what they have to say and hang up.) The Board has a rule that supposedly limits supervisors to two comments per agenda item with each comment not to exceed five minutes. Of course the blather rule is very loosely enforced, if at all. We therefore propose a set of flashcards numbered 1 through 5 minutes and with the corresponding cost — $12, $24, $36, and so on. A local taxpayer could do a major public service if each time a Supervisor exceeded his or her alloted speaking time, the corresponding amount in wasted public time would be toted up, turned in to the Board Clerk, and the cash value deducted from their plump paychecks. 

THE INDEPENDENT COAST OBSERVER rode out of the Point Arena hills last Thursday to pump a few final bullets into Matt Murray's tortured remains. Having ignored the ground-breaking Murray vs. Iacuiniello case for the month it was underway in Superior Court, Ukiah, not to say for the previous two years, D. Glenn O’Hara, ICO, February 4, 2010 writes under the headline “Iacuaniello cleared in civil suit.” Not exactly. (See Susan Rush's letter.) O’Hara’s final paragraph is quite remarkable in that it inadvertently reveals that the Point Arena schools, under Iacuaniello, maintains what appears to be a terminally ill school district. O’Hara quoted a “teacher who spoke to this reporter on the basis of anonymity.” Why a teacher in this context needs anonymity — especially when the ICO has a strict policy of not running unsigned letters — is a complete mystery. The “anonymous” teacher’s identity must be protected, apparently, because that teacher, according to O”Hara, “likes current Principal Paula Patterson because, ‘She is firm when she needs to be, like Matt [Murray], but she also knows when to give a hug'.” The shiv, too, as Murray discovered. 

AS IF the crucial difference between Murray and his orchestrated replacement, former teacher Ms. Patterson, is that Patterson “knows when to give a hug.” There are three other differences that Mr. O’Hara might have mentioned: Test scores at Point Arena Elementary have reverted to pre-Murray lows; discipline problems have returned; campus safety has deteriorated — and South Coast parents are again without a decent school. 

THIS CHASTE sentence in the Ukiah Daily Journal heralded the return of Doctor Craig McMillan to his old job as Mendocino County's Public Health Officer, interim that is: “Although the reasons for his suspension weren't released, McMillan believed at the time that he was suspended because the then-Board of Supervisors was disappointed in his budgetary control.” Actually, the Ukiah cops were tired of driving the old boy home when he was drunk, and even with the rides the doc got nailed at least twice for drunk driving, both times behind the wheel of a County car. McMillan's been Lake County's public health guy for the last decade or so and, so long as his liver holds up, will likely be ours for a few more years. Here's looking at ya, Mac! 

THE SUPERVISORS’  AGENDA for Tuesday, February 9, 2010, contains 176 pages. Nobody, least of all the supervisors, will read much of it. Item 7d on page 170 is entitled, “Annual Review … of Supervisors Expenditure Reimbursement Policy … to make adjustments, redefine, or clarify the intent of the policy…” Surely, somewhere in these 176 pages of detailed info we’ll find the proposed changes to the Supervisor's travel reimbursement policy, the one so egregiously abused by supervisors Kendall Smith and David Colfax as documented by the Grand Jury two years ago. Surely somewhere in the 176 pages we'd see for ourselves how the Board plans to contain the costs of their generous, nay extravagant, travel reimbursements, which includes an average of about $1000 a year per supervisor just for commuting to work and back. Nope. Nowhere in all that lengthy unread document. You want to see the proposed policy changes? “The proposed policy amendments [are] available for review in the Clerk of the Board's Office.” You've got to go to them to see what they are.

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