Transparency Could Benefit MCHC

by Malcolm Macdonald, March 23, 2016

I went to the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center (MCHC) Board of Directors meeting last Thursday, March 17.

A belated Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all.

The MCHC Board meeting started promptly at 9 a.m. With a prayer from Reverend Dan Fowler, a board member (others present included MCHC Board President Gary Johnson, Secretary Kathleen Cameron, Treasurer Jerry Thomas, and Dr. Michael Brown – a psychiatrist). A Public Comment session was next on the agenda. Lifelong Fort Bragg resident Jay Rosenquist asked for a clarification as to the total number of MCHC Board members, then requested she be considered to fill any vacancy.

At that point an audible “harumph,” emanated from those present, though it would be difficult to pinpoint its precise source. Since I was looking more or less in the direction of Johnson and Board Secretary Cameron, I can attest that it was neither of them.

It is just that sort of dismissive harumphing attitude which has kept the MCHC in the public eye long after moving into their headquarters at 191 N. Franklin Street in Fort Bragg (the Old Coast Hotel).

Next up in Public Comment was yours truly. I prefaced my remarks by noting that approximately a week earlier, I had been forwarded a series of emails in which the original email author stated, “What year or years was Malcomb (sic) on the Hospitality Board? I am sure I saw his name somewhere on a Board list or maybe the tax return.” Followed by, “I thought for sure i saw somewhere that he was on the board at one time. How did he get a copy of the bylaws? I am sure somewhere i saw it. Maybe it was another Board.” Then, “Maybe it was just the Finance Committee he was on.” And one more, “I see Malcolm MacDonald (sic) on the Mendocino County Mental Health Board in this link.”

I only got through about one and a half of the quotes before being drowned out by much laughter from the actual MCHC Board members. Just in case there is a random AVA reader without a sense of humor, let me make it crystal clear. This writer, Malcolm Macdonald, is not a member of any board in this county, or any other, unless one counts the regular contributors to the AVA who, of course, meet in secret cabals at undisclosed pot farms to sacrifice goat cheese, grill and consume baby seal steaks, and pledge everlasting fealty to the ghosts of Alexander Cockburn and Johannes Gutenberg.

All seriousness aside, I suggested to the MCHC Board of Directors that they might want to re-visit their overly faith-based bylaws (see my piece in the March 9th edition of the AVA which says in part, Article I, Section 1 of the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center bylaws is headed, Qualifications for Directors, with the following language, “Directors of the Board of Directors will adhere to these by-laws in personal life and behavior. Failure to do so and/or immoral, unethical sinful, illegal or shameful behavior or activities shall be just cause for dismissal by the remainder of the Board.”).

At the March 17th meeting I went on to say that while the letter of the law under both the Brown Act and the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act (see the same March 9th article for details) allow most non-profit 501(c) 3 organizations to conduct board of directors business outside of public view, given the current state of public scrutiny in Fort Bragg, not to mention public money spent to acquire the Old Coast Hotel site, MCHC would be doing itself a favor if it opened its board meetings to the general public.

Ms. Rosenquist added that the supposedly rejuvenated MCHC website contained no references concerning the day and time of the monthly MCHC board meetings. Both of us members of the public listened to a presentation from Professor Dan Jenkins of Mendocino College aimed at involving MCHC clientele in college courses, then we were politely asked to leave while the MCHC board and its executive director, Anna Shaw, considered the remainder of the items on the agenda (an agenda that included “Financial Reports,” but one that also had not made it to the MCHC website).

Not quite so summarily, Board President Gary Johnson slowed our exit to make clear that an item oft repeated publicly, a rumor concerning Todd Harris, one of the most public representatives of Ortner Management Group (OMG) needed clarification. Mr. Johnson made it abundantly clear to all present that the perception that Ortner's Todd Harris packs three different guns is entirely incorrect. The Todd Harris with a permit for three guns is another Todd Harris. Of course, that hasn't stopped some people from latching onto the partial truth that if any ol' Todd Harris owns guns that's a fine and dandy reason to impugn Ortner Management Group and by extension its subcontractor, MCHC.

Thus, the drums of social warfare in Fort Bragg beat on. One way for the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center to quiet those drums is to become so thoroughly transparent that even the most far fetched of critics can see the whole truth.

(Malcolm Macdonald's website is MalcolmMacdonaldOutlawFord.com)

5 Responses to Transparency Could Benefit MCHC

  1. BB Grace Reply

    March 23, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    “It is just that sort of dismissive harumphing attitude “…

    With the of lack of transparency, and the fact that there is limited parking and the Mendo Lake Credit Union parking lot should be renamed “Panhandle’s Plot” at this point.

    Gosh, but wouldn’t it be great to be able to go to the OCH and have something from Mendocino Farms, a booming restaruant that doesn’t contribute anything to Mendocino for the right to the name?

    Anywhere else in the world, Mendoino would have a trademark, but we let these Southern CA folks get rich and not give a dime to Mendo.

    Mendocino Farms receives investment from Whole Foods Market

    Nation’s Restaurant News‎ – Oct 12, 2015

    Whole Foods Market Inc. has made a minority investment in Mendocino Farms, the first restaurant partnership for the natural and organic …
    Whole Foods Bets Big on LA’s Mendocino Farms With New Minority … Eater LA
    Whole Foods just backed a tiny sandwich chain no one has heard of … Business Insider

    • BB Grace Reply

      March 28, 2016 at 11:23 am

      PS: Thanks to Jay and Judy’s posts for encouraging a second read.

      Take 2: “…the partial truth that if any ol’ Todd Harris owns guns that’s a fine and dandy reason to impugn Ortner Management Group and by extension its subcontractor, MCHC”.

      Least we forget Aaron Bassler, and the women who gave us Laura’s Law, Kendra’s Law, and the dozens of social workers raped and killed by the people they were helping. Forget them. Todd Harris had no sane reason to think he might have to protect himself one day (from his subcontractor by County circumstances).

  2. Jay Reply

    March 27, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    Old Coast Hotel,101 N Franklin St, FB CA 95437
    Yes on Measure U, 100 N Franklin St, FB CA 95437

    It was nice to have another member of the Public there Malcolm.

  3. Judy Valadao Reply

    March 28, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Very good article Malcolm. It is however a “fact” the address of the Old Coast Hotel is 101 N. Franklin St.

  4. mr. wendal Reply

    March 29, 2016 at 11:43 am

    re: Transparency Could Benefit MCHC

    Mr. MacDonald writes: “they might want to re-visit their overly faith-based bylaws” but their activity code listed with the IRS is “05 – religious activities.” As a religious organization, they would be expected to have faith-based bylaws and begin their meetings with a prayer. They would be wise to open their entire meetings to the public and replace their Executive Director if they are sincere in their mission.

    Their NTEE (National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities) classification is “N41 – Temporary Shelter for the Homeless.” I would think that it would be “P85 – Homeless Services/Centers.”

    The MCHC Activity Code and NTEE classification can be found on the State of California’s Charity Research Tool website. It’s too bad the State doesn’t make Schedule B from 990 returns available for public viewing on the website so we could see who made contributions over $5,000 (in addition to the millions of taxpayers’ dollars) to MCHC.

    Scott Peterson claimed during a radio interview on KNYO that he has paperwork showing that Ortner (OMG or Thomas Ortner personally?) made a contribution of over $95,000. If true, MCHC will be taking a bigger financial hit than first thought with Ortner out of the picture. Can that be a proven claim?

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