Mendocino County Today: Sunday, Mar 20, 2016
by AVA News Service, March 19, 2016
THE CYBER DELUGE is blessing and curse, as is instant communication. If I don't restrain myself, I could pass entire days arguing with e-mail provocations. Occasionally an on-line beef is worth getting into, like the one several paras below about Sheriff Allman's proposal to fund and establish a County mental health facility apart from the County Jail where mental patients can only get sicker. Allman's idea is a place where the mentally ill could be housed and perhaps even helped. Initially, the effort would be funded by a slight, five-year bump in the sales tax.
I THINK it's a good idea as outlined by the Sheriff. The County's police forces spend much of their on-duty time dealing with the mentally ill, however they got that way whether through drugs, alcohol or genetic turbulence. (The present crop of homeless mentally ill are crazier than ever because on the street they "self-medicate." And there are many more of them, not to mention the criminally insane, like the homicidal maniac who walked in out of the midnight to attack the woman north of Fort Bragg with a knife.) And the cops deal with this growing cohort of thanatoids over and over again because there is presently no viable alternative to police and jail. (Our monarchical local judges are of zero help here. They run the same people through the courts over and over again.)
COUNTY COPS now do all the mental health heavy lifting and housing which, actually, isn't all a bad thing. Cops tend to be much more sophisticated and much kinder in dealing with the mentally ill than the "liberals" who staff the helping bureaucracies. The libs go to college, emerging after four years of heavy drinking, random boffery and recreational drug use with vague diplomas in Advanced Billery and, clutching their ersatz degrees, their confused heads stuffed with nonsense, latch onto life jobs in public agencies.
(I HASTEN to add that my collitch degree, which I've found of no practical use whatsoever, let alone as an income enhancer, is in English and history. I learned nothing that I couldn't have absorbed faster with a good reading list. "Here ya go, Bozo. These books will give you some idea WTF and you can take it from there." As it was, I spent hours sitting in classrooms listening to a tiresome collection of tenured hacks who managed to make these subjects boring. I had one college teacher I enjoyed listening to and, of course, he got fired for criticizing the jive administration of the place. For high schools to hold out college as the end all, be all does young people a huge disservice. Kids! Listen to me! Don't do it! If you're going to be a doctor or an engineer of course you gotta go. But liberal arts? A total waste of time and wayyyyyy too much money. If college was free, like it ought to be and The Bern wants it to be, then go to college. As it stands, all you'll be doing is racking up a lot of debt.)
WHERE WERE WE? O yes. Sheriff Allman's mental health plan. Some of you are at least dimly aware that right here in Ecotopia, Mendo branch, we spend roughly $20 million a year for an existing mental health apparatus that doesn't do much of anything apart from shipping out the more extreme cases to privately owned and operated facilities in places like Yuba City. The Sheriff's plan would keep a hunk of that money at home. (By the way, all that Mr. Ortner's hack-staff of mercenary mental health pros do for crisis cases in Yuba City is lock them indoors for a week while they zombo-ize their patients on new combos of liver-destroying drugs.)
BEFORE AMERICA LOST ITS WAY, there was a broad consensus that persons unable or unwilling to care for themselves were the social responsibility of all us. It was regarded as cruelly unthinkable to simply allow drunks and crazy people to live on the streets. Somehow, we've drifted far from reality ourselves, going from a modest and effective state hospital system to the ad hoc conglomeration of free lunch programs (such as Hospitality House in Fort Bragg and Plowshares in Ukiah) and a huge and expensive tax-fed public bureaucracy of "helping professionals," all of it feeding off the ever-larger numbers of free range drunks, drug addicts and crazy people without doing anything for any of them.
THESE HELPING PROS and the well-paid mercenaries running places like Hospitality House and Plowshares, now comprise an obstacle to commonsense strategies for actually doing something about the "homeless," a catch-all term that includes only a tiny minority of people who are on the streets because of economic bad luck while drunks and drug addicts are on the streets because, with a hot and a cot when they feel like it, they can stay on the streets, drunk and loaded and destroying public spaces. The insane are on the streets because there is no place for them except the County Jail. Which can only hold so many.
OK, SO HERE COMES the critic of the Sheriff's plan:
"The 'plan' is very simple — raise money to build a building which will be used for mental health services. Period. It does not say what services. Oh, and we will use 10% of the money to build a mental health training center, as if there is not already an abundance of conference rooms where this training can take place. But beyond that, the initiative does not say what kind of facility will be built or what kind of services will be provided. The Sheriff has made it clear he wants a 16 bed locked facility for 5150s. But many seem to think this building will take the place of all out of County placement. Supporters are also projecting that it will accommodate a crisis residential program, drug and alcohol treatment, 23 hour pre-crisis voluntary drop in and everything else that people believe we ought to be doing. It is a mental health facility of dreams but buildings do not provide treatment or pay for it. Is it too much to ask that the proponents describe what will happen in this building and how we will pay for it?"
I'M SURE THE SHERIFF will correct me if I'm misrepresenting his plan, but everything listed here is not like organizing the construction of King Tut's pyramid. All this stuff would fit nicely at the now abandoned Howard Hospital in Willits. Cops could take the Catch of the Day straight there for the (existing, funded) helping professionals to sort out and maybe even help. As is, we have an in-County "system" led by people who can't even tell the Supervisors how many people are employed in the local system and what these people do! You mean to say we can't revamp this expensive absurdity along the lines the Sheriff has proposed and bring it off for less than twenty annual million?
BASICALLY, lightly populated Mendocino County, with our relatively small (but growing, always growing) population of drop-fall drunks, free-range drug addicts and untreated mentally ill, has, by default adopted San Francisco's approach to the so-called homeless. Frisco spends a quarter of a billion dollars a year on the homeless, which they radically under-estimate at 6,600 as more and more homeless appear every month on the streets of the city. Divide $250 million by 6,600 and you get $37,878 much of which goes to the people paid to allegedly get the homeless indoors.
HOW MANY HOMELESS in Mendocino County? Pick a number. The County has done a couple of counts they admit are deeply flawed, as they naturally would be because the homeless resist enumeration. But officially, after literally beating the bushes and peering under bridges in 2013, there were 1,344 homeless individuals in the County. In 2015 there were 1,032 because, well, the people doing the counting want us to believe that their savvy interventions are working miracles so state and federal government will continue to kick down grant dough.
BOTTOM LINE? State and federal government is going to have to revive versions of the old state hospital programs. The problem is obviously beyond the capacities of local government. Odds of that happening? A million to zero.
WHICH IS WHY Sheriff Allman is way, way ahead of the curve here. He wants a local solution in lieu of anything being done, or likely to be done higher up the government ladder of bribe takers, straight-up crooks, time servers, and incompetents. (cf Huffman, Little Mikey, The Dentist.) If we don't do it ourselves it's not going to get done, and to get it done locally we've got to go outside present strategies.
BTW, it can't be noted often enough that Supervisor McCowen spends almost all his spare time cleaning up after and helping out the homeless capable of being helped in practical ways of housing and work. He knows directly who's out there and why they're out there. Hopefully, three supervisors, if they can be convinced that the Allman Plan can be more effective and less expensive than the present failed approaches to homelessness in the County, will make some version of the Allman plan a reality.
THE OTHER PARTY to the mental health discussion came right back with:
"I completely agree that the walking mentally wounded and chronic drunks should not be allowed to commit slo mo public suicide. But the proposed initiative does not say anything about dealing with those people. And saying the building is only for mental health services automatically excludes drunks. I am not sure of the current number of out-of-county placements, both in locked and unlocked facilities, but I don't think the non-existent plan includes long term confinement of drunks and crazy people.
"HOWARD HOSPITAL? First the Sheriff said it would not work for his building due to seismic issues. Now he says it will. I've heard that Margie Handley will sell Howard for $2 million, maybe less. Allman has said the seismic for his 16 bed locked faciility could be handled for $1 million. Say it cost $2 million more to do all the other upgrades to make it the building of our collective dreams. Now you are at $5 million. So why are we approving a tax to raise $22 million? Again, no plan, no cost projections, nothing at all to indicate that the facility (whatever it is intended to be) can operate sustainably into the future.
"I favor using Howard as a mental health facility and more. Very reliable sources say Ortner was ready to buy it six to eight months ago but that all came to a halt when we pulled the plug on the adult mental health services contract. But for the money that is needed ($3-$5 million — not $22 million) I would think Redwood and one of the local hospitals could develop Howard with a combination of services that are needed locally. The hospitals could also have a number of dedicated psych beds and the County would guarantee payment. That would allow services to be scaled to the local need. Acute psych in a hospital setting with crisis residential and drug and alcohol treatment at old Howard."
THE SHERIFF'S PLAN is of course tentative because plans are by their nature tentative. Seismic upgrading is often an ongoing scam shoved down our collective throats by politicians funded by construction donors. Assuming Howard Hospital is not made out of Pick Up Sticks and Gorilla Glue, it isn't going to fall down any time soon. An '06 quake is going to knock every thing down, a lesser quake will knock some things down, other things will remain functional. Minor reinforcements, where needed, could be done. You don't have to make it seem as if it's impossible.
I THINK it would be enormously helpful to the cops and the communities of this county to have the gamut of "homeless" services under one roof. There's plenty of room in Howard for a drunk unit, plenty of room for tweakers to get straight, plenty of rooms for the mentally ill, including locked rooms for the extreme cases to be sequestered while our hard hitting helping pros restore them to their senses. The old state hospital at Talmage had room for all manner of walking wounded. We should aim at having our own Mendo version of Talmage on the assumption that it's up to us to take care of ourselves because help will not be forthcoming from other levels of government.
PS. Coast Hospital is struggling because, like every other public institution in the County, the higher echelons — doctors and administrators — make way too much money. Coast Hospital, often under-populated, could be partly converted to a unit for, say, drunks, thus helping the Hospital perhaps regain its fiscal equilibrium.
ISN'T IT CLEAR to most of us by now that these grotesquely inflated salaries that public servants have managed to gull the public into paying are bankrupting government at the local level? Mendocino County is soooooo broke just paying retirement and health benefits to past employees that it will, at some point, be forced to declare bankruptcy ala Vallejo.
PROPOSITION 172 FUNDS for Emergency Services: An unsolvable muddle.
(Unsolvable by the Board of Supervisors, anyway.)
As we reported yesterday, the Board of Supervisors last week put off a decision to allocate some portion Proposition 172 funds to local fire departments, ambulance services and various hybrid districts like Coast Hospital’s ambulance department in Fort Bragg.
The primary reason for the postponement was Supervisor Dan Hamburg who after four months of flab-gab sessions (along with Supervisor Dan Gjerde who seems to be taking a back seat on the Prop 172 funding issue) couldn’t even get his overview memo into the Board agenda packet in time for last week’s meeting. Supervisor Brown even chastised Hamburg for his fumbling by grumbling that Hamburg’s memo “should have been posted on Thursday like everything else.”
In the absence of proper notice, and for the benefit of the many fire department representatives on hand for last week’s Prop 172 discussion, Hamburg read his memo out loud. It didn’t have anything in it that couldn’t have been written four months ago before Hamburg started meeting with fire departments — more transparency, a dedicated line item in the County’s budget, proportionate replacement for funds lost in 1992 when the state shifted a huge chunk of property taxes from local government to the edu-monopoly instead of cutting the budgets across the board including those of the many state bureaucracies. Hamburg then boldly called for “staff” to come up with a recommended way to allocate some Prop 172 money to emergency services and for more meetings on the subject of revenues for emergency services.
That’s it. Again: Hamburg’s memo took four months.
SUPERVISOR JOHN McCOWEN complimented himself and his colleagues for even discussing the issue which has been a problem for 25 years. (Never mind that every other County in the state has been allocating a small portion of the Prop 172 sales tax revenue to emergency responders for decades. But not Mendo.)
McCOWEN then proceeded to complicate things even more than they already are by demanding information from each district and department that would, even if it somehow magically appeared in the Supes bloated agenda packet, simply raise more questions, and on and on.
AFTER TOSSING OUT the more, ahem, “novel” approaches to the problem (such as Jim Little of Laytonville and his pot tax idea, or the Fire District Association’s abortive demand for 30% of the Prop 172 money), there are two good sources of funds that could easily be siphoned off to supplement the various Districts (and let the Fire Chiefs Association — as competent and well-meaning a bunch as Mendo has anywhere) divvie it up as they see fit to whoever needs it most.
THE FIRST PLACE to get money is the Bed Tax which, as others have noted, is supposed to go toward covering the cost of the traffic accidents the bed taxed inevitably have when they aren’t in bed. The second is a portion of the giant pile of asset forfeiture and pot restitution revenues that clearly should be used to cover some of the pot-mob’s emergency services impact.
OF COURSE, such simple proposals are beyond the thinking of Hamburg who can’t even get a memo with specific options written in four months, or McCowen who can’t bring himself to allow anyone but himself decide how to allocate the funds.
THE ISSUE will be back before the Board on April Fools, er April 5th, and if they decide to do anything beyond turning the problem over to “staff,” the Major will personally pay off the rest of Jeffrey Bacon’s emergency services bill.
JEFFREY BACON is the poor guy who last year got into a motorcycle accident on Highway 128 requiring the life-and-limb-saving services of the Anderson Valley Fire Department. The Fire Department sent him a bill for a few hundred dollars to cover the response cost, but Mr. Bacon didn’t have the money to pay. Instead of asking to have the bill written off (which the District would have done if he’d asked), Mr. Bacon was so thankful for the help he received he offered to pay it off in $10 a month installments which he has assiduously been doing ever since.
MR. BACON’S experience — and the rest of the Anderson Valley Fire Department’s pretty good billing experience — flies in the face of Laytonville Fire Chief Jim Little’s claim that accident victims or their insurance carriers tend not to pay response fees. Mr. Little could learn a thing or two about billing out-of-district accident victims from the AV System which works reasonably well — and when it doesn’t the bills are turned over to a Ukiah collection agency to recover whatever it can.
James "Jay" Walter Miller Jay passed away on March 11, 2016, at the age of 81, after a long illness. He is survived by his wife, Dorinda Kay Miller, sons James W. Miller Jr - Tonopah, NV and David Eric Miller (wife-Mary Miller and grandchildren; Jennifer, Tammy and William Barnes) - Livermore, CA; and daughters-in law Jen Kephart (grandchildren; Autumn Webster and Caitlyn Prince) and Tabitha Hedrick (grandson, Colton Prince). Jay is proceeded in death by his parents Walter and Alberta Miller; beloved son, Paul Dean Prince, courageous sister Delor Baldwin; first wife, Sharon Miller (parents-Ralph and Kay Whittaker); and mother-in-law, Patricia Arnold. Jay was born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma on September 14, 1934, and lived In Caney, Kansas. After graduating high school in 1951, he enlisted in the military where he served four years in the Navy and eight years in the Air Force as a flight mechanic. He joined the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office in 1965 as the first Potter Valley Resident Deputy and from there continued a career that spanned 30 years and the following promotions and assignments (1973) Sergeant, (1978) Lieutenant, (1984) attended the 136th Session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, (1989) he was selected as the first Public Information Officer, and also as Chief Deputy Coroner of which he served in those capacities until he retired in 1992, then he continued on as a Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Reserve Deputy. After leaving the Sheriff's Office Jay went to work for the Savings Bank of Mendocino as a courier for 10 years before he retired completely. Instead of services a Celebration of Life is being planned and will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests denotations to your favorite charity . Eversole Mortuary is in charge of arrangements.
JUST IN FROM JENNIFER POOLE OF THE WILLITS WEEKLY:
A ban on all medical marijuana cultivation inside the City of Willits? Willits City Council's Medical Marijuana Regulation ad hoc committee will recommend the full council move forward with such an ordinance, during Item 5 of a special Willits City Council meeting on Monday night, March 21. The recommended ordinance would also "explicitly prohibit by ordinance" all commercial medical marijuana activities.
To quote from the agenda packet: "The Committee members [Mayor Bruce Burton and Councilmember Larry Stranske] are of the view that the City of Willits should explicitly prohibit by ordinance the commercial marijuana related land uses and activities that are now allowed under the MMRSA [Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act], and that the City should also ban any further cultivation of medical use by qualified patients or primary caregivers."
And further: "The Committee is of the view that the City of Willits has unfortunately developed a national reputation as a place associated with marijuana cultivation, culture and use; and that marijuana cultivation has become an intolerable nuisance for many persons within the City. The Committee also recognizes that the use, cultivation, possession, sale and distribution of any marijuana is unlawful under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. The Committee thus further recommends that the Willits Zoning Ordinance be amended to specifically provide that any land uses and activities that are unlawful under either state or federal law shall be prohibited within all zones of the City."
The full agenda packet for the Monday meeting (in place of the regular fourth Wednesday of the month meeting) will be posted on the City of Willits website at:
— Jennifer Poole
From the agenda packet for Item 5:
Summary of Request: The Medical Marijuana Regulation Ad Hoc Committee has carefully reviewed the recently enacted Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act that regulates certain commercial medical marijuana related activities, including cultivation, processing, transportation, testing and sale of medical marijuana. The full text of the MMRSA is attached. The MMRSA acknowledges the right of local public agencies to prohibit the medical marijuana business enterprise activities that are now regulated and licensed under the Act. Thus, someone wanting to engage in the business of testing, sales, cultivation, etc., of medical marijuana within a City needs both a state license and a permit or other authorization from the City. The Committee members are of the view that the City of Willits should explicitly prohibit by ordinance the commercial marijuana related land uses and activities that are now allowed under the MMRSA, and that the City should also ban any further cultivation of medical use by qualified patients or primary caregivers. In this regard, Cities may also lawfully ban the non-commercial cultivation of medical marijuana.
The Committee is of the view that the City of Willits has unfortunately developed a national reputation as a place associated with marijuana cultivation, culture and use; and that marijuana cultivation has become an intolerable nuisance for many persons within the City. The Committee also recognizes that the use, cultivation, possession, sale and distribution of any marijuana is unlawful under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. The Committee thus further recommends that the Willits Zoning Ordinance be amended to specifically provide that any land uses and activities that are unlawful under either state or federal law shall be prohibited within all zones of the City.
Based on the foregoing, the Committee recommends adoption of an ordinance substantially similar to the attached ordinance of the City of Merced. Alternatively, the Committee recommends adoption of an ordinance similar to the attached ordinance of the City of Petaluma.
Recommended Action: Provide direction to City Staff concerning the drafting of a proposed new ordinance(s) regulating or banning activities and uses related to medical marijuana within the City of Willits, including cultivation. Upon providing direction staff can then draft the recommended ordinance and notice a public hearing for discussion and review before the Willits Planning Commission.
‘THEY’VE COME A LONG WAY!’
Supervisors’ Ad Hoc Medical Marijuana Committee Recommends 9 cultivation permits
by Jane Futcher
The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors’ Medical Marijuana Ad Hoc Committee unveiled its recommendations for countywide medical cannabis cultivation permits Tuesday. If revised and adopted by the board quickly, permits could be issued in late spring or summer by the county Department of Agriculture.
In an unusually upbeat meeting at the supervisors’ chambers in Ukiah, cannabis cultivators thanked the supervisors for listening to their needs and creating permits that will help them compete in a state and nation where cannabis prices are falling fast due to legalization.
“This is just a proposal,” Supervisor Tom Woodhouse of the Ad Hoc Committee said at the start of the two-and-a-half hour hearing. “What we have is a direction.”
The proposed plan, a revision and expansion of the county’s 9.31 cannabis program, offers cultivation permits for: cottage; outdoor; mixed light, and indoor cannabis cultivation. Exemptions may be possible for farmers growing no more than 25 mature plants for personal, caregiver or collective/cooperative use.
The marijuana committee has been working on its recommendations since the state’s Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act was signed into law in December. Because the state will not be issuing licenses until Jan. 1, 2019, local governments have been asked to develop their own guidelines if not follow those outlined by MMRSA.
“By adopting policies that we believe are advantageous to small growers, we will perhaps influence the state to adopt policies that are beneficial to all growers,” Supervisor John McCowen, the other cannabis committee member, said to about 70 people at the hearing.
The proposed outdoor cultivation permits are:
—Cottage: 25 plants not to exceed 2,500 square feet of total canopy size (2,000 sq. ft. of cultivation area triggers regional water board waiver requirement)
—Type 1: 50 mature plants not to exceed 5,000 square feet of total canopy size
—Type 2: 99 mature plants not to exceed 10,000 square feet of total canopy size on one premises
The mixed light cultivation permits using a combination of natural and supplemental artificial lighting are:
—Cottage: Less than or equal to 2,500 square feet of cultivation area within a structure
—Type 1B: Less than or equal to 5,000 square feet of cultivation area within a structure
—Type 2B: Between 5.001 and 10,000 square feet of cultivation area within a structure
The indoor cultivation permits using exclusively artificial lighting are:
—Type 1A: Less than or equal to 5,000 square feet of cultivation area within a structure
—Type 2A: Between 5,001 and 10,000 square feet of cultivation area within a structure
Each permit category spells out zoning and parcel-size as well as some specific licensing or inspection requirements. For example, a Type 2 Permit for outdoor cultivation of 99 mature plants must be located on agricultural, rangeland, upland residential, or rural residential land and a minimal parcel size of 10 acres. An application and unique identification, like a zip tie, are required, as well as a pre-site inspection, a mid-season inspection and a certified third-party inspection.
Agricultural Commissioner Church Morse, who will be responsible for developing an ordinance with county counsel, gave a presentation prior to public comment on elements of the permitting and compliance program. Each plant, he said, will have a unique ID, such as a zip tie, and a “track and trace” system that will parallel the state’s. He said he and the Sheriff Department will need to reach out to the whole county and do “a lot of education” on the permits, the inspection process, safety measures, environmental issues, and enforcement.
Many farmers, Morse said, have asked the Agriculture Dept. to develop an organic or sustainable growing program or certification that would help the county develop the Mendocino “brand” or appellation.
More than 20 people, many of them leaders of the local cannabis community, offered comments after Morse’s presentation.
“Thank you very much for moving this thing forward,” said Casey O’Neill, a Laytonville farmer and chair of the California Growers Association. “The supervisors have been very open and supportive.” O’Neill suggested a tiered system of taxes would make it easier for small farms to make the transition into compliance.
Tim Blake, Laytonville founder of the Emerald Cup and one of the original members of the county’s 9.31 program, said the county did an admirable job with that program. He urged the board to hand over permit enforcement duties to the Department of Agriculture not the Sheriff’s Department. “Don’t criminalize these people,” he said.
Julia Carrera, a 9.31 third party inspector and leader of the Small Farmers Association, said the SFA is “happy to be working with the sheriff until the Agriculture Department can get caught up.” She and several others also asked that the county offer a permit for medical research, which requires a higher plant county as breeders test different strains.
“The corporate takeover is here,” Carrera said. “It’s happening and it’s huge.”
Longtime cannabis activist and Skunk Magazine editor Pebbles Trippet said she supports the establishment of a cannabis commission made up of cannabis stakeholders and other community members to advise the Board of Supervisors. “It would present a transparent process which has never existed in this county,” Trippet said.
Justin Calvino told the board he fears that giving permits only on residential property would discourage commercial use and development. He also urged the creation of a cottage license for indoor cultivation.
Not all speakers were enthusiastic about the proposed permits. Chris Brennan, a federal trapper, was concerned that more grows in rangeland and rural areas exposes wildlife, including bears to concentrated fertilizers that have killed dogs and bears. He recommended growers be required to store fertilizers in metal, bear-proof boxes so bears can’t get to them.
Paul Truitt of the Mendocino County Black Tail Deer Association said he thought that the proposed 25-plant cottage programs in upland and rangeland would add to such problems as illegal water diversion, sediment discharge and soil erosion.
Jude Thilman of Dragonfly Nursery and Healing Center in Fort Bragg said the number of cannabis patients has risen astronomically in California. “We produce the best cannabis in the world,” Thilman said. One of her concerns about the proposed permits was that the zoning “seems haphazard” and should be expanded. “We are here to be regulated. Let’s make sure we’re not driving anybody underground.”
Other concerns from the public were: The need for transportation permits; concerns that growers who space plants far apart not be penalized by square footage limits; and the need for a nursery permit.
Following public comment, the supervisors reviewed many of the 23 points in the Ad Hoc Committee’s written recommendations. Dan Hamburg posed the county might go with square footage instead of plant counts; caps on permits. He also wondered if the county “shouldn’t go directly to the Ag Department, moving enforcement from criminal to civil.”
Much of the discussion focused on whether the Department of Agriculture had the staff to take on such a big job. Although Agriculture Commission Morse said he could staff up quickly, and county CEO Carmel J. Angelo said she would make staffing his department a priority, the supervisors were not all persuaded that he, and not the Sheriff’s Department, should oversee the entire program.
McCowen and Woodhouse suggested the county create a registry of participants in order to gauge how many farmers might be participating in the programming.
“We don’t know it it’s 100 or 1,000,” Woodhouse said.
Sheriff Tom Allman, who arrived toward the end of the supervisors’ discussion, seemed disconcerted by what he was hearing.
"While people are drooling over the possibility of a recreational marijuana law being passed by the voters this fall, the true reality is that it has’t been passed,” Allman said. “And cultivation of commercial marijuana in California is a felony. Let’s be very clear on this."
“I don’t want anyone to think the Sheriff’s Office is going to stop eradicating illegal marijuana until the law at a state level dictates that’s going to be our change. . . . I’ve been sitting her for quite a while, and I haven’t heard the word medical at all. It’s almost as if we are talking 2017 right now. It’s not 2017, it’s 2016. . . If you’re watching this on TV and you’ve already bought a new car, I’m sorry. You don’t need to be turning into a commercial marijuana operation thinking this is the golden goose egg because it’s not going to work. I’m sorry.”
McCowen reiterated that county cultivation permits would be granted only for medical marijuana, and that the Sheriff’s Office would take action if it sees activity in violation of the law.
Despite the sheriff’s sober warning, after the hearing Swami Chaitanya said committee’s proposals were a big step forward.
“It’s wonderful to hear the Board of Supervisors actually starting to pay attention to us and calling us stakeholders,” Chaitanya said. “They’ve come a long way and I think it’s a result of two years of work by all these different groups who are what we are calling stakeholders — the MCPC, SFA, EGA — and they are starting to listen to us and they are starting to realize that we’re real people."
“And the other thing is that we’re starting to realize that they’re real people. And now we know their names; we’ve had social gatherings with them. They’ve come a long way to realize that we’re not just these crazy hippies back in the mountains either. We’re having a dialogue and that’s the key thing, and hopefully they will start to realize the crucial issues for us are agriculture and also to open up the zoning so that people will have the right to grow this magic medicine wherever they need to grow it.”
The Ad Hoc Medical Marijuana Committee said it hopes to have a new draft of recommendations as early as next month.
(Jane Futcher is the host of The Cannabis Hour, on KZYX FM.)
WELCOME TO MENDOCINO - WE'VE GOT SMILES
My latest Mendopia video is here:
The entire Mendopia series is here:
GRAND JURY BLAMES HUMCO’S LOW VACCINATION RATES ON POOR TRANSPORTATION
And the Fact That Parents Don’t Know About This One Cool Website
by Hank Sims
This year’s Humboldt County Grand Jury — that group of citizens tasked with providing independent review of local governmental agencies, and given special investigatory powers under the constitution of the state of California — Friday issued its first report of the 2015-2016 year. Their topic? Child immunization rates in the Humboldt County school system, and what local governmental authorities are doing to address new state legislation requiring kids to be up-to-date on their immunizations in order to attend public school.
This is an important and interesting topic. It resulted in one of the strangest Humboldt County Grand Jury Reports in recent memory.
The report starts off well enough, noting that Humboldt County’s immunization rates are near the bottom (54th out of 58 California counties) and that not coincidentally we have the state’s second highest rate of pertussis (whooping cough), a potentially deadly infectious disease that was once on the road to eradication. Humboldt County had 58 diagnosed cases of pertussis in 2010, the Grand Jury writes, and 149 diagnosed cases in 2014.
But why are our vaccination rates so low? The Grand Jury has two answers:
One: It’s hard for some people to find transportation to the clinic.
Two: Too many parents don’t know about a cool website — www.shotsforschool.org — that can tell you all about current vaccination rates at their kids’ schools.
That is literally the Grand Jury’s diagnosis: Tough to find a ride to the doctor sometimes, the cool website hasn’t made the rounds. This makes the solution so simple! Send the Department of Health and Human Services Mobile Medical Van out to the hinterlands to deliver shots to the kids, and everyone put a link to shotsforschool.org on your websites!
Why does this analysis fail to convince? For one, because many or most of the schools with the lowest vaccination rates in the county aren’t exactly hours from civilization. Three of the five schools with the lowest rates — Coastal Grove Charter School, Fuente Nueva Charter School, Blue Lake Elementary — are well within Humboldt County’s urban center. The first two of those schools are literally walking distance from several different clinics and doctor’s offices.
What the report fails to consider — what it absolutely fails to acknowledge at all, in fact — is the fact that a large proportion of Humboldt County parents stand firm by the discredited notion that the cure, in this case, is worse than the disease. Many people here honestly believe that vaccination is not so much a proven means of eradicating deadly and crippling infectious diseases, but some sort of medico-industrial governmental plot to enslave and poison the minds and bodies of their precious little ones.
This is a real thing that people in Humboldt County and elsewhere believe, and in large numbers. Sadly for everyone, the problem isn’t going to be solved by offering people a lift to the doctor’s office. There’s no easy answer, but the Grand Jury does no one any favors by glossing over the issue.
The full report — titled, sunnily enough, “Be Wise, Immunize” — can be found at this link.
* * *
Press release from the Humboldt County Grand Jury below:
Vaccination rates in Humboldt County rank a low 54 out of 58 California counties.
Humboldt County’s low vaccination rates became a public concern when SB 277 was signed into law in June 2015. With the passage of SB 277 parents will no longer be able to refuse the vaccination of their children based on personal belief exemptions, if their children attend public or private school. Humboldt County has the sixth highest personal belief exemption rate in the state.
When it comes to California vaccination rates for kindergarten and seventh graders in schools, Humboldt County ranks 54 out of 58 Counties. This includes both public and private schools. The Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury finds there is a risk of a contagious disease outbreak due to the percentage of children who are not currently vaccinated in Humboldt County. The Humboldt County Department of Public Health has taken the initiative to establish the Humboldt Immunization Coalition (HIC) and is initiating a community-wide outreach program to improve vaccination rates for County school-aged children. The HCCGJ acknowledges the work of the Humboldt County Department of Public Health, Humboldt County Office of Education, and the individual schools in Humboldt County for their diligence in initiating the implementation of SB 277.
The 2015-2016 Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury has two concerns.
According to a survey conducted by the HIC, access to transportation presents a major obstacle when it comes to children receiving vaccines. The HCCGJ, therefore, recommends that the Humboldt County Department of Public Health, in collaboration with the Humboldt County Office of Education, develop and implement an action plan to address transportation accessibility for mandated vaccinations.
Furthermore, parents may not have access to vaccination rates prior to the fall of 2016, to enroll their children in their selected school. While there is a state database (www.shotsforschool.org) which includes the vaccination rates for every school in California, parents may not be aware of this site and the Humboldt County information contained on that site may not be accurate. The HCCGJ recommends the Humboldt County Department of Public Health, Humboldt County Office of Education, and the individual schools post the vaccination rates of students on their websites and/or include a link to the Shots for School website and in collaboration designate an agency to officially oversee the timely and accurate reporting of those vaccination rates.
Parents have a right to access accurate vaccination rates of prospective schools before they enroll their children in that school.
John Coate / Maude Frickert
COATE AND CAMPBELL — THE LEGACY
From: Doug McKenty
Date: Fri, Mar 18, 2016 at 7:20 PM
Subject: [Kzyxtalk] Stuart Campbell
I heard the broadcast of the candidates debate last night and was shocked to hear Stuart Campbell rebuff John S's statement that the station had lost a thousand members over the past decade. He then made the claim that anyone could check the website to find out the facts. First, membership numbers, past or present, are not on the website. It is not even possible to discern the level of income derived from the membership after 2010. Second, in order to find these numbers out, I had to threaten to sue the radio station. When I showed up to find out, it was Stuart Campbell himself who called the police in order to prevent me from finding out. Finally, after the new GM was hired and it was possible to discuss the issue with someone reasonable, she revealed that past record keeping was in disarray, and even she did not know how far the membership has declined. Why did Stuart not just tell the truth? And why was he willing to go to such great lengths to prevent me from discovering the answers to these questions?
— Doug McKenty.
CATCH OF THE DAY, March 19, 2016.
Abernathy, Cantaroni, Donahe
LORIE ABERNATHY, Fort Bragg. Domestic assault, probation revocation.
LAURA CANTARONI, Ukiah. Vehicle theft, grand theft, burglary, tampering with vehicle, receiving stolen property.
MICHAEL DONAHE, Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
Fackrell, Fischer, Graham
ROBERT FACKRELL II, Redwood Valley. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
TIMOTHY FISCHER, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
JOHN GRAHAM, Willits. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
Jones, Kraft, Lockett
CHARLES JONES, Fort Bragg. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun.
ELIZABETH KRAFT, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
WILLIAM LOCKETT, Court order violation with priors.
Marquez, Palacios, Pearson
CARLO MARQUEZ, Ukiah. DUI, no license.
JOHN PALACIOS, Ukiah. Battery.
ADAM PEARSON, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
Ray, Tyrell, Yadon
DANNY RAY, Fresno/Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation.
KIRSTINA TYRELL, Willits. DUI.
EMILEE YADON, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
FOR THE FIRST TIME in more than 40 years, Yellowstone National Park’s grizzly bears may soon be in the crosshairs of trophy hunters. Worse, the deadly combination of bear hunting coupled with climate change — which has already decimated Yellowstone’s most important bear food — poses a double whammy threat to the survival of the iconic grizzly.
The March 3 announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) came paired with an astonishing declaration in the Federal Register: “Therefore, we conclude that the effects of climate change do not constitute a threat to the [Yellowstone grizzly bear population] now, nor are they anticipated to in the future.”
This nearly unbelievable, flat-earth statement by America’s chief wildlife agency should warn us that President Obama is not carefully watching his flock. It also tells us that in the battle to save the Yellowstone grizzly, the FWS has once again aligned itself with the wrong side of the fight....
I am a hunter who doesn’t buy into the fatuous claims about the need to kill carnivores. Apex predators serve a complex and necessary role in ecological communities and in their own wild social communities. America’s great bears today threaten our minds more than they do our bodies; by reminding us that upon occasions still possible today, we mighty humans were once just another flavor of meat. They challenge our notion of how we fit into the world and our dominion over it. And that’s why we need them alive and roaming the land.
Grizzlies entered my life when I came home from war way too crazy to hang out on street corners. In that unbalanced stratosphere, the worst thing you can do is think about yourself: You need something large, unpredictable, and probably dangerous to anchor your mind: Staring at your bootlaces doesn’t work.
The one place that has always been a sanctuary for me is the wilderness, so I headed for the Rocky Mountains and camped out, wandering north with the seasons until I landed in Yellowstone. There I ran into grizzlies, and all traces of self-indulgence vanished. Living in grizzly country is a lesson in enforced humility. They rivet your attention as only a same-sized predator can. You hear better, smell better and see more when you live on the ground unarmed with an animal that can kill you and eat you (they almost never do). I lived with grizzly bears for well over a decade and, in grizzly country, I recaptured the threads of my own humanity....
— Doug Peacock
HUFF SAVES ORCA!
With so much troubling news these days, I wanted to share something important and positive that our work helped produce this week. Yesterday, SeaWorld announced it is ending captive breeding of orcas (killer whales) and will completely phase out its orca captivity program and focus on marine mammal rescue, rehabilitation, and conservation.
This is the beginning of the end of captive orca displays around the world, and all the ugliness that goes with it – capturing these highly intelligent, social mammals in nets; separating family groups; breeding and trading them in captivity where they spend their entire lives in cramped, inhumane tanks; and requiring them to perform for food.
This historic change wouldn’t have happened without a sustained campaign that included our work in Congress.
Two years ago, Rep. Adam Schiff and I successfully passed bipartisan legislation to require a federal review and update of regulations for captive orcas and other marine mammals. This hadn’t been done for two decades, despite new scientific information and troubling revelations from the documentary Blackfish. Last year, we followed up by introducing the ORCA Act to phase out orca captivity for public display, as SeaWorld has now agreed to do. With our legislation, a similar push by the California Coastal Commission, and an unprecedented public advocacy campaign led by the Humane Society of the United States, the pressure and the momentum for change grew.
When we started this uphill fight, conventional wisdom was against us. SeaWorld was a big, powerful corporation and part of an entrenched, multi-billion-dollar captive orca entertainment industry. Few would have predicted such a monumental victory in just two short years.
Together, through hard work and perseverance, we did it. Let’s remember that when the deluge of discouraging news sometimes feels overwhelming. Our work truly matters, and we are making a difference.
With much gratitude,
Jared Huffman, Congressman, CA-1
CLOSURE of the recreational Dungeness crab fishery south of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line has been lifted, and opening of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery – delayed since November – is set for March 26 in the same region.
Recent test results show that domoic acid levels in crabs off the California coast south of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line no longer pose a significant human health risk, according to notice given today to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) by the director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), after consultation with the Director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
As a result, the director of OEHHA recommends opening the Dungeness crab fishery in this area. Under emergency closure regulations, CDFW will provide commercial Dungeness crab fishermen at least seven days’ notice before the re-opening of the commercial fishery south of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line, and so that fishery will open at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 26. The presoak period, during which commercial fishermen may begin getting gear in place, starts at 6:01 a.m. Friday, March 25.
Closures remain in place north of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line for the Dungeness crab commercial and recreational fisheries. The commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are closed north of Piedras Blancas Light Station near San Simeon, and in state waters around San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz islands.
The unusually high domoic acid levels off the coast this fall and winter wrecked a Dungeness crab fishery worth as much as $90 million a year to California’s economy. Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and may be fatal.
“This has been a very difficult season for hardworking Californians who have suffered significant financial hardship due to this natural disaster,” said Charlton H. Bonham, Director of CDFW. “We thank the affected communities for their patience and fortitude as we have worked with our partners at CDPH and OEHHA to open a portion of the commercial fishery along a traditional management boundary as recommended by the industry.”
Both the commercial and recreational Dungeness crab seasons are scheduled to end June 30 in the newly opened area, although the CDFW director has authority to extend the commercial season.
In February, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker seeking federal declarations of a fishery disaster and a commercial fishery failure in response to the continued presence of unsafe levels of domoic acid and the corresponding closures of rock crab and Dungeness crab fisheries across California. Should a federal determination be made to declare a disaster and failure, the state and federal agencies will work together to determine the full economic impact of the disaster and, upon appropriation of funds from Congress, provide economic relief to affected crabbers and related businesses.
Despite several weeks of test results that showed crab body meat samples below alert levels, one sample of viscera was slightly above the alert level. Because of this, CDPH and OEHHA strongly recommend that anglers and consumers not eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs. CDPH and OEHHA are also recommending that water or broth used to cook whole crabs be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews. The viscera usually contain much higher levels of domoic acid than crab body meat. When whole crabs are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach from the viscera into the cooking liquid. This is being recommended to avoid harm in the event that some crabs taken from an open fishery have elevated levels of domoic acid.
With the partial opening of the commercial fishery in the state, CDFW recommends that all people fishing for crab refer to the Best Practices Guide, a resource providing tips on how to use crab trap gear in a manner that reduces incidences of whale entanglements. This guide was produced collaboratively between commercial crabbers, agency staff and staff from non-profit organizations during two meetings of the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group that took place late last year.
Pursuant to the emergency regulations adopted by the Commission and CDFW on November 5 and 6, 2015, respectively, the current open and closed areas are as follows:
Areas open to crab fishing include:
- Recreational Dungeness crab fishery along mainland coast south of Sonoma/Mendocino county line – 38° 46.1’ N Latitude, near Gualala, Mendocino County
- On March 26, 2016 Commercial Dungeness crab fishery along mainland coast south of Sonoma/Mendocino county line – 38° 46.1’ N Latitude, near Gualala, Mendocino County
- Commercial and recreational rock crab fishery along the mainland coast south of 35° 40′ N Latitude (Piedras Blancas Light Station, San Luis Obispo County)
Areas closed to crab fishing include:
- Recreational Dungeness crab fishery north of Sonoma/Mendocino county line – 38° 46.1’ N Latitude, near Gualala, Mendocino County
- Commercial Dungeness crab fishery north of Sonoma/Mendocino county line – 38° 46.1’ N Latitude, near Gualala, Mendocino County
- Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries north of 35° 40′ N Latitude (Piedras Blancas Light Station)
- Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries in state waters around San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands.
CDFW will continue to closely coordinate with CDPH, OEHHA and fisheries representatives to extensively monitor domoic acid levels in Dungeness and rock crabs to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened throughout the state.
OEHHA Memo 3/18/2016
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
Well, it appears that both models of the Republocrat bulldozer are slowly and inexorably making their way to their respective (if not respectable) Party’s nomination. The red one, driven by ‘The Donald’, as one of his wives often referred to Donald Trump, boldly proclaims United States superiority in everything, although it defines ‘U.S.’ in mainly white terms. Racism, religious intolerance and general xenophobia are the order of the day for Mr. Trump and his multitudinous followers. Proudly driving the blue model is former First Lady Hillary Clinton. She is looking a little the worse for wear, having fought and successfully thrown Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders out of the bulldozer, but he continues to run alongside, shouting various obscenities at her. Such phrases as ‘free tuition’ and ‘no bank too big to fail’ are most offensive to Mrs. Clinton, but she can barely hear them over the roar of her many fans. The blue model has a great advantage over the red: there is a bottomless pit of fuel available for it, coming from Wall Street and a wide range of lobby groups. Million-dollar donations will assure that Mrs. Clinton reaches the destination for which she has set her GPS: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
STATE OF THE NATION
The overwhelming majority of people on the streets of Garberville are healthy young males. Many may have a drug problem. I would have no way of knowing. This I do know. The several times that I’ve helped one, by giving them a place to stay, they’ve burglarized me. No more. Even speaking to one of them makes you a target once they know you. It’s sad. But the hangers out in Garberville and Redway are 99% not families with kids down on their luck. There is a nationwide subculture – nationwide if not international in scope – of young males who do drugs and steal and live in the woods. Given the number of job openings that businesses can’t fill, it’s not for lack of work. Repeat: this is a subculture – it’s rooted and it’s getting worse. The causes are: economic depression, law enforcement allowing drugs into the country and communities (right before our eyes), breakdown of family structure, lack of social services (starting with Reagan), and breakdown of the educational system. For starters.
by Manuel Vicent
(Translated by Louis S. Bedrock)
Before Einstein demonstrated theoretically, in 1916, the existence of gravitational waves, the product of the collision of two black holes that had its origin thousands of light years away; and before science was capable of detecting these waves, some privileged beings on our planet had already incorporated them into their spirits.
The infinite harmony of that sound from outer space might have been imbued in the strokes of the chisel of Phidias, the rhythm of a verse of Ovid, in the Venus Rising From The Sea of Botticelli, in the inspiration of Mozart when he composed his Concerto For Clarinet, or in the throat of Louis Armstrong.
The mind-boggling cataclysm in some corner of the universe produced by two galaxies consuming one another, after thousands of millions of light years, has ended up vibrating in the strings of a harp with which an angelic girl enhances the dinner of mafiosos in restaurant with three stars from Michelin that have also fallen from outer space.
Just as the experimental Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory has captured gravitational waves, it’s possible that some day quantitative physics will demonstrate that the souls of people and animals also obey the formula E=MC2 as a result of that explosion.
What is the spirit but a contraction of time and space? The souls that populate this speck of cosmic dust that is the Earth form one unique mystical entity, the material of which, when it transforms into energy, engenders good and evil, Paradise and Hell, radiant intelligence and fanaticism.
From that immense ball of fire has arisen the wisdom of Plato, the serenity of Buddha, the lamp of Aladdin, the ecstasy of the Sufis, the bonfire that consumed Giordano Bruno, the knife of Jack the Ripper, the winged feet of Margot Fonteyn.
We are all in a black hole without realizing it.
Pentagon & Corporate Contractors Too Big To Audit
by Ralph Nader
The Reuters report put this colossal dereliction simply: “A law in effect since 1992 requires annual audits of all federal agencies — and the Pentagon alone has never complied.”
All $585 billion and more, e.g., for the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, of your money — not just unaudited, but, in the sober judgement of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) of the Congress, this vast military budget is year after year UNAUDITABLE. That means that the Congressional auditors cannot obtain the basic accounting data to do their job on your behalf.
Auditing the Department of Defense receives left/right support, from Senator Bernie Sanders (Dem. VT) to Senator Ted Cruz (Rep. TX).
H.R. 942, the “Audit the Pentagon Act of 2014,” is supported by both Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives. In the statement announcing this legislation, the sponsors declared “The Treasury Department’s Financial Report of the US Government for fiscal year 2012 shows the DOD yet again has nothing to audit — its books are a mess. In the last dozen years, the Pentagon has broken every promise to Congress about when DOD would pass an audit. Meanwhile, Congress doubled Pentagon spending.”
Republican right-winger, Mike Conaway (Rep. TX) used to be a CPA in private life. At a Congressional hearing in 2011, he told Defense Secretary Robert Gates: “I go home to folks in West Texas, and when they find out the Department of Defense can’t be audited, they are stunned.” His constituents may be more stunned to learn that their Congressman also voted for all expanding defense budgets, which is why H.R. 942 is going nowhere unless the people rally to make auditing the Pentagon a presidential election issue.
Secretary Gates and his successor Secretary Panetta agree with Rep. Conway’s observations. Yet it has seemed that the military — this huge expanse of bureaucracy, which owns 25 million acres (over seven times the size of Connecticut) and owns over 500,000 buildings in the U.S. and around the world — is beyond anybody’s control, including that of the Secretaries of Defense, their own internal auditors, the President, tons of GAO audits publically available, and the Congress. How can this be?
Enormous scandal after enormous scandal is reported by newspapers such as Reuters, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal and by news services such as Associated Press and ProPublica. Citizen groups from the left and Right excoriate this runaway budget, including the national Taxpayers Union, POGO, and Taxpayers for Common Sense. TO NO AVAIL!
Have you heard of the $43 million natural gas station in Afghanistan that was supposed to cost $500,000? Do you know about the $150 million villas that were built for corporate contractors in Afghanistan so they could spend another $600 million advising Afghans about starting private businesses in that war-torn country?
Or how about purchase of billions of dollars of spare parts because the Army or Air Force didn’t know the whereabouts of existing spare parts in forgotten warehouses here and there? What about the $9 billion the Pentagon admitted could not be accounted for in Iraq during the first several months of the invasion?
The list goes on, together with massive cost over-runs by the private contractors that are rewarded with more contracts. Soldiers get dirty drinking water, bad food, inadequate equipment, and security breaches by these contractors. No matter.
President Eisenhower’s farewell warning about the “military-industrial complex” becomes ever more of an understatement as it devours over half of the entire federal government’s operating budget.
Mike McCord, the Pentagon’s chief financial officer, has some startling explanations for why the Department is not ready for an audit. It’s not the Department’s “primary mission,” he says, which is “to defend the nation, fight and win wars.” He continues: “We’re too big to just sort of blow up all our systems and go buy one new, gargantuan IT system that runs the entire Department.”
Where are the accounting standards groups when we need them to speak up?
Mr. McCord certainly knows how to enhance his job security. Why no Pentagon audit? Too big to audit? No. Just too many scandals, too much waste, gigantic weapon system redundancies, overlaps between military branches, and many sinecures in bloated, inflexible bureaucracies, so often condemned by commanding generals in the field.
McCord himself has pointed to the areas in which he prefers to cut costs in order to save money: Congressionally-opposed base closures, retiree costs, and consolidating “its Tricare health system.”
In the final analysis, the principal culprits, because they have so much to lose in profits and bonuses, are the giant defense companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and others that lobby Congress, Congressional District by Congressional District, for more, more, more military contracts, grants and subsidies. They routinely hire ex-Pentagon specialists and top brass who know how to negotiate the ways and means inside of the government.
President Eisenhower sure knew what he was talking about. Remember, he warned not just about taxpayer waste, but a Moloch eating away at our liberties and our critical domestic necessities.
(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)