Mendocino County Today: Sunday, May 15, 2016
by AVA News Service, May 14, 2016
ODD MYSTERY, but all mysteries are in their separate ways, aren't they? This one has Anderson Valley people scratching their heads. Someone apparently broke into the Cakebread vineyard at the Philo end of Anderson Valley Way, Boonville, and opened the valve on the larger of the two ponds there, releasing many thousands of gallons of drought-precious water to no constructive purpose. We were first alerted to the empty pond last week by Tom McFadden who, like all of us, daily noted the full-to-the-brim irrigation pond, known locally as The Big Dig. Then, Tom saw, the pond was suddenly empty. The smaller pond just to the west of the Big Dig appears covered in a dead-looking brown. Cakebread would like to hear from anybody who may know who committed a fairly large-scale act of vandalism. ("Break-in" is a little too dramatic to describe access to the site. Anyone can simply walk in anytime.)
After discovering work crews had dumped a bunch of dead animals in a state waterway, a state Water Code enforcer is investigating if Caltrans ever created and implemented roadkill disposal policies, which was a requirement from the last time Caltrans got in trouble for improperly dumping dead animals.
A stockpile of dead animals, as well as other contaminants like dirt and asphalt, was found in a drainage ditch — considered a waterway — by a North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board inspector in Mendocino County.
WILLITS CITY COUNCIL APPROVES BURTON-MITCHELL PURCHASE OF REMCO;
Despite lack of transparency and public notice
by Linda Williams
The Willits City Council, with Mayor Bruce Burton absent by agreement, voted 3-1 on May 11 to approve the development proposal for the Remco Hydraulics site provided by the Mayor Burton-Ed Mitchell group. Councilwoman Madge Strong voted against the proposal.
Strong said while she was in favor of accepting the development rather than forcing Willits Environmental Remediation Trust (WERT) to tear down the complex, she wanted to provide the public more time to understand the details and would have been more comfortable approving the plan and resolution at the May 25 meeting.
Councilwoman Holly Madrigal had voted earlier with Strong to delay the vote, but when that failed she moved to approve the proposed sale, with acting Mayor Ron Orenstein seconding the motion.
The action allows WERT to sell the property to the Burton-Mitchell group immediately. A council resolution to confirm that this sale will allow WERT to leave the structure standing and not require full demolition will now be voted on at the May 25 council meeting.
In Orenstein’s pugnacious style, he kept repeating that the public had been totally informed of all actions — as evidenced by Facebook posts, and there was no need to delay for any reason. He jokingly acknowledged if the other councilmembers disagreed with him, they could go outside and settle the matter in the parking lot.
The alternate Willits city staff recommendation, originally favored by Madrigal and Strong, provided the option for approving both the purchase and the accompanying resolution at the council’s May 25 meeting. This would have resulted in little delay, still allowing WERT to sell the property to Burton-Mitchell by the May 31 expiration of the current sales contract.
The council has been meeting in closed session with their attorneys on some aspect of the Remco matter nearly every council meeting for the past several years. Issues covered during those sessions have not been reported to the public.
The last time the council met in open session to discuss the Remco development was nearly a year ago, when there were two proposals. At that time Orenstein, also in his role as acting mayor, had shown his strong prejudice for the Burton-Mitchell proposal, to the extent of demanding information and guarantees from the Skunk Train presenters which he never asked from the Burton-Mitchell team.
At that time, with two possibly viable proposals, the council was expected to vote on which one they preferred. Had the council voted in favor of the Burton-Mitchell proposl, WERT Trustee Anne Farr had said she would accept the council’s direction. This was even though WERT, which owns the property and is responsible for its environmental cleanup, considered the Skunk Train to be the winning bidder, with Burton-Mitchell in the second position. Farr had said that her main objective was to resolve whether WERT was obligated to dismantle the structure.
In 2015, Orenstein communicated his desire to have WERT choose Burton-Mitchell over the Skunk Train proposal. Councilman Larry Stranske’s position was more neutral, he believed that as the owner, WERT should be free to choose whichever bidder it wanted to accept. Madrigal and Strong liked both proposals.
The council, after input from its legal team, required WERT to have some assurances the facility would not still be vacant years later. Developers were asked to present a “development plan and detailed project financing plan, including phase by phase budgets and financial statements (including “sources and uses” breakdowns) reasonably acceptable to the city; and completion assurances, such as payment bonds, performance bonds, or other construction related surety bonds or completion guaranties, reasonably acceptable to the city, to guarantee completion of development work through issuance of a certificate of occupancy.”
The council also agreed other matters involving the full financing of the final Remco site cleanup had to be resolved before the sale
This was the last action the council took on Remco’s future development until the May 11, 2016 meeting. .
Farr said at the May 11 council meeting that the Skunk Train had been dropped from consideration in August 2015 when it failed to approve the second change to the purchasing agreement.
Why this was not shared at that time with the public was never addressed and no one from the council asked her why WERT did not make this public earlier.
Farr also acknowledged WERT never advertised the property sale publicly and that she had been in discussions with the Skunk Train since 2011, initially for a lease-purchase.
The Burton-Mitchell proposal surfaced as the sale to the Skunk Train was entering the final phases. Skunk Train General Manager Robert Pinoli says he entered into escrow to purchase the property on June 4, 2015. The first meeting with the Willits City Council where this topic was discussed occurred on June 10, 2015.
WERT’s original sales price was $200,000 for the building and 7 acres of property in the center of Willits.
The first official hint the Skunk Train had been left behind came at 1:48 p.m. on May 10, 2016 when City Manager Adrienne Moore emailed a supplement to the May 11 agenda which included an action recommendation and a letter from WERT lawyers. Normally such details would have been available on May 6.
Ed Mitchell told TWN that his proposal for a brew pub, mixed commercial and industrial complex, and possible Willits firehouse and law enforcement training facility had not changed since his presentation in 2015. Mitchell says he remains open to an arrangement with the Skunk Train to share the facility.
At the May 11 council meeting, Ernie Burton presented the council with a timeline and financial guarantees for the development they had provided WERT in July 2015. The total development cost for the mixed business complex was estimated at $10.575 million with construction planned in phases over 6.5 years. The first phase, estimated at $2.4 million and 30 months to complete, would include a 5,000 square foot brew pub, a 1,500 square foot visitor center and 13,500 square feet of mixed retail space. The second phase at $2.925 million, expected to proceed concurrently with phase one, would include a public safety training facility and a new Willits firehouse.
Phase three, estimated at $2.5 million, would create 50,000 square feet of mixed retail space, light industrial space, manufacturing space and a sport center. This would take 24 months and would begin after phase one and two concluded.
Phase four, estimated at $2.75 million would add 55,000 square feet of retail, light industrial and manufacturing space and take an additional 24 months following phase three.
The financial guarantee was provided by a letter from Savings Bank of Mendocino County which stated that Burton and Mitchell “have the financial capacity to purchase the subject property and complete the development.” There was no further information which provided the “completion assurances, such as payment bonds, performance bonds, or other construction related surety bonds or completion guaranties, reasonably acceptable to the city, to guarantee completion of development work through issuance of a certificate of occupancy,” which was a concern of the council a year ago. No member of the council nor the city attorney, asked for such documentation prior to the vote.
Several members of the public asked questions about a variety of issues, including water use by the brewery, traffic impacts, suitability of the location for a fire house, suitability of the location for a brew pub, the appearance of a conflict of interest, the city’s current inventory of empty shops and properties, questions about WERT’s actions toward the Skunk Train proposal and the development’s impact on the design of Main Street renovations. Orenstein assured the public their questions had either been addressed already or would be addressed at a future date.
AND HE HAS GREAT ENDORSERS (LIKE ME)
My voting recommendations (if you want more information, call (937-5925) or email me):
Patrick Pekin for Judge — extremely important to have a fair minded, independent, dedicated, energetic, enthusiastic community servant elected. Fire fighter, student mentor, advocate for access to the courts with tons of experience and great endorsers. This race is very tight — every vote is important. If you want more info: Check out his website: PATRICKPEKINFORJUDGE.COM
Yes on V: common sense protection from wild fires.
Yes on W: Let’s see what a charter would look like. This is just to draw up the charter which could be beneficial. We have nothing to lose.
NO on U (in Fort Bragg): Besides all the discriminatory, negative and unfair results of this measure, zoning by initiative is just a bad, bad idea.
United States Senator: Kamala Harris.
Other races decide for yourself. No matter what, never Trump!
Thanks for your consideration. Vote as if your life depended on it.
Best, Steve Antler, Mendocino
Please spread the word and make sure everyone you know votes.
* * *
YOU REALLY have to admire the hubris of this guy (a coast attorney): "Other races decide for yourself…" Coastlib's version of The Great Helmsman trusts us to decide the down ballot stuff for ourselves? Can we really be trusted to do that?
ANTLER'S probably wrong about how close the judge race is between his pal and Faulder. From here it looks like Faulder going away, if for no other reason, than being so much better known than Pekin, Faulder is also much more experienced, knows the entire County better and, wait for it! he's got the endorsement of Sheriff Allman, the most popular elected official in the County.
WE'RE SURPRISED that Pekin ran for this particular Superior Court slot. If he took on Ten Mile Court's stumbling Clay Brennan he'd be a shoo-in.
* * *
ON FORT BRAGG'S Measure U, Antler says it's a bad idea to do zoning by initiative. He's right, but that's not what Measure U is. It simply says it's a worse idea to put a "homeless" organization in the middle of town where there already is one a few blocks away. Measure U also objects to the highly suspicious, hurry-up manner in which the Old Coast Hotel deal was brought off. And the opponents of U have steadily and deliberately lied about U, claiming it will destroy popular existing social service entities, which it won't. Clear-thinking people will of course vote Yes on U.
* * *
TRUMP. Here at Boonville's beloved community newspaper we feel The Bern, knowing full well, thanks to the Antler types (middle of the road extremists) dominant in the national Democratic Party, that the laughably corrupt Hillary will be handed the nomination. But Trump, for now, as the enemy of our enemy, is doing us all a huge political favor by blowing up the entire two-party fraud. Hil vs. Trump? We'll vote for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, and if the millions of us who find it impossible to vote for Hillary get blamed for electing Trump, it will again be the Democrat's — now worse than Republicans — own fault.
AS OF MAY 11, corporatist and militarist Hillary Clinton is making a premature boast of victory. The only reason she’s ahead is because of two anti-democratic systems: one, the unelected superdelegates, her cronies, mostly, in Congress, who were elected by nobody to be delegates — they were appointed; and second, the closed primaries. Primaries are paid by taxpayers; they should not be closed to independent voters. And if independent voters could have voted in these primaries, Bernie Sanders would have defeated Hillary Clinton. In fact, in one Tuesday a couple weeks ago, Sanders lost four primaries, in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, because of closed primaries. The one that was open to independent voters, in Rhode Island, he won. So, I wouldn’t be as boastful as Hillary Clinton. Also, Hillary Clinton has to divulge her transcripts. The Wall Street Journal just reported that she is getting more money from Wall Street than all other candidates combined, in the Republican and Democratic Party, running for president. And that’s one reason why she has to divulge those transcripts, which she had her sponsors, the big bankers and other closed business conventions, pay a thousand dollars each for a stenographer to write — to have these stenographic transcripts. So she’s got them. And she’s got to divulge them, so the American people can see how she says one thing in closed doors to the business lobbyists and another thing sweet-talking the public and mimicking the language of Bernie Sanders.
— Ralph Nader
GRACE LIU MEMORIAL: Saturday, June 4, 10AM, at the Temple of 10,000 Buddhas. There will be a movie of her life. Catered by the restaurant on site.
RSVP please: Steve Liu, 520-878-8116.
Linda Breckenridge, Willits
On May 12, 2016 at about 8:11 AM Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a possible explosive device at the Little River Inn golf course in Little River. Upon arrival Deputies learned that while maintenance staff was mowing the course workers found what was believed to be an explosive device near one of the tee boxes. The device was found during daylight hours and away from any structures which prompted a call to the Sheriff's Office. The suspected explosive device was small in size and appeared to be homemade. The area was cordoned off and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) unit was requested to respond. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office EOD unit arrived on scene and examined the device before rendering it safe by detonating the device. Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies collected evidence at the scene and the investigation is ongoing at this time. Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office tip-line by calling 707-234-2100.
GRAND JURY: Mendocino County DA’s marijuana restitution program pulls in $7.5 million
The Mendocino County grand jury said in a report released Friday that the district attorney’s marijuana restitution program has brought in $7.5 million to date as of March 2016.
The intent of the grand jury’s internal investigation “was to determine the validity of concerns expressed by members of the public and certain public officials of the propriety of the marijuana program.”
Critics call the program a “pay for play,” and claim it gives preferential treatment to those having the money to pay the fees, which discriminates against those who can’t pay, according to the jury.
The program started in 2011, when District Attorney David Eyster was first elected to office. California Health and Safety Code Section 11470.2 allows such a program to be implemented, although the grand jury notes Mendocino County is the only county in the state that allows felony offenders of state and county marijuana laws, under certain circumstances, to accept a misdemeanor charge, in exchange for restitution of law enforcement costs.
When first taking office, the grand jury said Eyster was faced with approximately 500 open felony cases just for marijuana-related crimes. The average time to resolve a marijuana related case, the grand jury said citing the DA, was 15 months at that point.
Because of this, such crimes strain the resources of the DA’s Office, the court, county jail and county probation department when there are more serious offenders to prosecute for violent crimes.
The program has been credited with clearing prosecutorial and judicial case backlogs, freeing space in the county jail and easing resources in probation, according to the grand jury.
Since its inception, more than 500 defendants have participated in the program. The DA’s Office reports that the recidivism rate for those participating in the program is 10% as opposed to the overall recidivism rate of 40% for all convicted defendants in the county.
The grand jury said in its report the average time for a marijuana case from arraignment to disposition is now 120 days, including those that go to court.
Despite some opposition, the grand jury said the Mendocino County Superior Court has allowed this marijuana restitution program to proceed, and there has been no contrary ruling on it by state appeals courts.
The DA’s Office does not receive the restitution funds. Currently, payments are made to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and have been in excess of $100,000 per month for a total of approximately $7 million, the grand jury report stated.
During county budget development, the sheriff’s budget is decreased by some or all of the amount of the restitution funds collected for the following fiscal year, according to the grand jury.
Though there are supporters and critics of the DA’s restitution program, the grand jury noted county law enforcement officials, as well as some county supervisors, tend to support it.
Those critical of the program include a Mendocino County Superior Court judge, who, during a restitution hearing for a man with an 800-plant marijuana grow, criticized the restitution program as “extortion of defendants,” according to a May 2014 Los Angeles Times article.
The grand jury recommends that the DA continue the marijuana restitution program as long as it is compliant with state statute and county ordinance. Also, the grand jury is asking the DA to institute and demonstrate a publicly visible program to assist those who can participate in the program, but can’t afford to make a total payment at the time of their agreement.
The grand jury requests responses from the district attorney, sheriff and county CEO.
The full report by the grand jury on this issue is available online at http://bit.ly/1TCwqcA.
THE FIGHT AGAINST RACCOONS (on-line comment)
Don’t fall for their lovable bandit look — that’s a complete ruse!
They’re mean, nasty little creatures. Take it from a country boy. I have a large wooden deck around my house which my wife has populated with dozens of potted plants. At night (they’re nocturnal) they would come up on the deck and dig into her pots, knocking them over and spilling potting soil everywhere. They would leave huge piles of crap. They would get under the grill and knock the drip pan over. Generally disturb everything they could and just make a big mess of things.
For a few years I would just play the dutiful husband and clean up the crap, straighten things up and try to organize to make things as racoon proof as possible. To no avail. They continued their campaign of mayhem and wanton destruction despite my best efforts. Finally, I had enough. I launched my own counter-offensive. (Think Bill Murray in Caddy Shack.)
I had the county animal control officer come out and discuss what could be done. He left a couple of wire cage/traps but informed me the county would not take the animals away for us. “Disposal” was up to us. Thus began my program of “ethnic cleansing.”
The traps were effective and every night I would catch a couple of coons. If I released them somewhere on my property they would find their way home and be right back at it. I could transport them to another area but dropping them off on someone else’s property would not be the neighborly thing to do. Despite my preference for letting them live, it seemed apparent I would have to destroy them.
I own a very small caliber “pocket pistol” and decided that would be the cleanest way to kill them and minimize the mess. Up close is where you see just how vicious they are. Anytime I was near the cage they would bare their teeth and ferociously hiss and try to come after me. If cornered, they left no doubt as to their intention to attack. (As an aside, a friend got in the wrong location with one on my deck and had to fight it off with a broom and a trash can lid until he was able to make it back to the safety of the house.) When they bared their teeth at me, I decided my easiest shot would be to stick the barrel of the pistol right into their open mouth (through the cage) and pull the trigger. One shot in the head and they were dead, with no exit wound. After that I dug a deep hole in a remote location and dumped them from the cage right into the hole and covered them up.
I continued this process, usually trapping two per night and disposing as described for more than a week. Amazingly, I killed maybe a dozen and a half of the varmints during my killing spree that summer. That was nearly ten years ago and I’m happy to report we no longer have a racoon problem.
(Photo by Susie de Castro)
FINALLY, CONSTRUCTIVE ACTIVITY IN THE UKIAH VALLEY
by John Arteaga
Ahhh, isn’t it nice to see some of the recent constructive activities going on in our beloved Valley? It seems like after so many years of being kind of a backwater it’s a treat to see some nice architecture for a change.
I have been watching the progress of the new gas station and minimart being built up by the Coyote Valley casino. They were working on it throughout this rainy winter, and I was impressed to see how quickly it came together and opened for business; quite a handsome piece of commercial construction to see alongside the fairly scenic 101 corridor north of Ukiah.
I recently made it by there to fill up with their bargain priced fuel and take a look around the imposing structure; whoever designed and built it deserves major kudos for this relatively nice addition to the view from the highway. It is well worth the drive to stop and check it out; I especially liked the lustrous ground concrete floors, where the concrete was ground down into it enough to make the aggregate look like terrazzo. The bathrooms also have lovely tile work that is simple and elegant, and the entryway with its imaginative complexity of bolted-together timbers reminded me of Japanese pagoda construction. A worthy addition to Ukiah’s short list of decent-looking commercial structures.
Of course it is great to see the rapid progress being made on the new Chipotle restaurant at Perkins and Orchard. The work on the long abandoned lot seems to be moving along at a brisk pace, and it will be nice to see what the finished structure looks like, as the only other Chipotle that I have seen is the one in Santa Rosa, which is built into an existing mall structure, but nevertheless has created a very nice kind of postmodern ambience, with walls made of a beautiful plywood perforated by varied-size holes. The food there is really tasty too.
Now, it will sure be nice to see the In and Out Burger crews get to work sometime on the wretched old Fjord’s ruin that has blighted our town for decades (shouldn’t that junkyard fence and mysterious triangle of wheel stops have been condemned as a public nuisance many years ago?). How galling has it been all these years to have this eyesore presented to the traveling public as the face of Ukiah as they come off the main freeway off ramp into our humble little burg?
I’m sure that a solid majority of county residents are really looking forward to Costco’s arrival on the long-vacant lot between Friedman Brothers and the Mendocino Brewery. Unfortunately, here in the land of apparently unlimited frivolous litigation, some hack lawyer from the Central Valley has convinced the court system that he has standing to hang up this hugely popular project for many months so that he can pursue whatever kind of nonsensical lawsuit the justice system apparently permits him to. If I were the judge, I would slap him with a million dollars worth of frivolous litigation fines for his obstruction of the public will. The county has got to borrow a few million dollars to make the necessary improvements on the Talmage on the off ramps (not to mention probably rebuilding the entire crumbling Airport Park Boulevard), before Costco will even consider starting construction, but this expenditure would be quickly repaid by tax receipts from the store. I just heard today for the first time that even after that lawsuit is settled, there are others waiting in line. It’s so hard to do anything, no matter how popular and beneficial it may be to the local economy, in this litigious state, without being dragged through millions of dollars worth of court costs!
On the subject of ridiculous legal proceedings, wasn’t that incredibly annoying when some clueless out-of-county judge dropped into Ukiah to render his decision on the decades-long Palace Hotel fiasco? As anyone who has been following the story is aware, the Palace Hotel is owned by a delusional old woman who believes that any day now eager investors are going to line up to shower millions of dollars on her to restore the Palace Hotel to its former glory. This belief of hers is unshakable; so much so that she neglected to pay her contractor the better part of a million dollars or so in anticipation of those investors knocking at her door. Obviously, decades on, her clinging to this belief despite never having a single soul interested in lending her so much as a dollar, demonstrates that she is apparently in need of psychiatric help, rather than arbitration.
So for this judge to counsel city to enter into arbitration with her means to me that he must be almost as delusional as her. What has the city been doing for all these years of futile negotiations with her? The occasional stories in the media about the situation do not help much either; every time I read that the city wishes to appoint a public receiver in order to, “take over the rehabilitation of the Palace Hotel,” I can only laugh in frustration. Let us be clear: there will never be any “rehabilitation” of that structure. Anyone who knows anything about construction will tell you that the structure is way too far gone, and that the only sensible thing to do with it is to raze it completely and start over, even if you wish to end up with a building that looks exactly like the Palace does today on the exterior. How many more years or decades will it be until the struggling downtown Ukiah may finally be able to do something with all of that space right in the center of town?!
Oh well, you win some, you lose some. Ukiah will always be our town Ukiah, for better or for worse.
TRANSIENTS TAKE UP MAJORITY OF UKIAH POLICE OFFICERS’ TIME, CHIEF SAYS
by Justine Frederiksen, Ukiah Daily Journal
While evaluating the activities of the Ukiah Police Department over the past year, Chief Chris Dewey told the Ukiah City Council Thursday that his officers continue to perform admirably despite a mounting workload. “Out of 32,000 calls for service last year, the department received one ‘sustained complaint’ from the public for driving too fast,” Dewey said at a council workshop May 12. “I am very proud of the work our officers do, and the low number of complaints is really a reflection of the professionalism of our officers.”
Their work, Dewey said, led to a 5-percent reduction in felony crimes and an 18-percent drop in traffic accidents, which at least partially may be the result of his officers writing nearly a third more traffic tickets. “I think the traffic enforcement is incredibly important,” said Council member Maureen Mulheren, admitting that she “really enjoys seeing people pulled over,” because if drivers receive tickets for unsafe behaviors such as speeding, not yielding to pedestrians or using their cell phones, they might improve their habits.
“It’s not about the city getting more money, it’s about changing behaviors,” Mulheren said. “Someday I hope that we will have enough officers that we can dedicate one officer to traffic enforcement,” said Dewey, adding that keeping a full staff is a “constant struggle” for his department, which is authorized to have 32 sworn officers, but maintained an average of only 30 this past year. Another constant struggle, Dewey said, is the presence of transients and homeless residents, “which affects our ability to manage crime, and is an issue we really need to work on.”
“About what percentage of time do the officers spend dealing with the homeless?” Vice-Mayor Jim Brown asked, and Dewey estimated that the calls associated with transients and homeless residents took up about “70 to 80 percent” of his officers’ time. “I think it’s safe to say that it’s a majority of their time, but we don’t know the exact statistical number of the amount, so I wouldn’t want to see that reported in the newspaper,” said City Manager Sage Sangiacomo. “I appreciate the effort to describe the magnitude of the problem, that a significant portion of (officers’) time is spent dealing with the transient population, but I don’t want (that number) reported.”
“It might be too late,” Brown said. The police log for this past Monday, May 9, provides a good example of the number of calls likely associated with transients and homeless: man and woman arguing along the creek near the Orchard Plaza parking lot around 3 a.m.; transients causing a disturbance in the same area around 9:02 a.m.; a man waving a rock at the bus stop near the Pear Tree Center at 9:14 a.m.; someone who left Denny’s restaurant without paying for their meal around 10 a.m.; transients on a lawn in the 100 block of Talmage Road shortly after 2 p.m., a man in the bushes on Washington Court around 2:50 p.m., a transient riding a bicycle on the BMX track in Riverside Park around 3:05 p.m., transients in the 400 block of East Perkins Street around 5:30 p.m., someone camping in the 1000 block of Cunningham Street around 5:45 p.m., an arrest of a drunken man on the railroad tracks near East Gobbi Street around 7:30 p.m., transients setting up camp in the 100 block of Mason Street around 8:50 p.m., a man behaving suspiciously in the 100 block of South Orchard Avenue around 10:30 p.m., and transients setting up camp in Vinewood Park shortly after 11 p.m.
On the positive side, Dewey said that a special enforcement team he set up six months ago to deal with code enforcement issues, such as blighted properties that tend to attract transients and foster their illegal activities, is making progress. “It’s been fantastic,” Dewey said. “These two officers have the ability to go day-after-day and spend time with an owner and get creative with solutions.” “The old approach wasn’t working, and this approach the police department brought forward has had tremendous results,” City manager Sangiacomo said. “Residents were expressing an incredible amount of frustration about these properties.”
Dewey had invited members of the public to the workshop, but no one addressed the council on the topic.
Read Dewey’s evaluation of his department at
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
PASTELS ON THE PLAZA: The DA’s office
MRC SPENDING LOTS & LOTS TO STOP PROP V
Amended disclosure from MRC
The county just posted an amended campaign disclosure from MRC (dated May 13 2016):
which is an update of their May 2 report:
The reason for amendment: "To include additional estimated independent expenditures."
New figure: $213,776.77
It remains unclear what timespan this "Cumulative Total to Date" covers. From the way this report is filled out (Date: "5/2/16 - 6/7/16"), it appears to encompass only the final month of this campaign. The estimated figures on this report add up to $202,555 — which leaves $11,221.77 unaccounted for. That's not enough to account for the $52,768.68 reported during the last half of 2015:
Despite these little mysteries, it appears MRC will easily spend more than quarter mil opposing V.
The redactions are less oppressive on this amended document, so a little more can be gleaned from it. It appears a big direct mail campaign is winging its way to Mendocino County voters, via these dudes:
An interesting irony: one of the subvendors listed, Brainchild Creative, previously produced a 30-second TV ad to "change forest management policy." You can see it here:
MEASURE V ON KZYX
Tues May 17, from 7-8 PM, Ecology Hour
Charlie Acker will host Fire Chief Ted Williams, retired Cal Fire Air Attack Captain Kirk Van Patten and Biologist Els Cooperrider.
Mendocino Redwood Company declined to participate.
They'll discuss the fire and public safety hazard due to the millions of dead but standing (poisoned hack & squirt) trees in Mendocino County.
Get ready with your questions! 895-2448
KZYX 91.5 90.7 88.1 online at kzyx.org
Citizens for Fire Safe Forests, Campaign Coordinator
MARCO SAYS, 'PULL IT.'
Pulling the landline plug
Maurice Smith wrote: Find a way to make the people (bean counters) who run the companies actually care about humanity instead of the all mighty dollar and the bottom line then, and only then, will you have a chance to fix this issue.
* * *
I say, pull it.
The solution is not to clutch at and expensively repair and maintain obsolete (wired) systems. Look at the way Further Reach does it — with each user becoming a node in a network superior in many ways to satellite based communications, even in the early stages when only a relatively few people have signed up.
This is something like what I think will end up happening here and everywhere: solar charged wireless comm nodes will be made in indestructible jarts (lawn darts) that can be any size and power desired. They'll be carried in bundles in small slow aircraft and dropped, one by one, on high points of rural, underserved places, to overlap their coverage and leave no dead spots.
Each one will also be a weather station and a seismometer, just like every cell phone can be, and they'll have other functions that occur to the designers to be useful to science and society. (And to commerce; why not?) They'll be as cheap to make as the cell phones they serve.
Some could have a net on them, to catch on a tree, in places that are thickly forested, and so stay up higher and work better.
A single helicopter could spend a lazy weekend flying around dropping a few thousands of these things, and everyone everywhere in Mendocino County would have reliable phones and internet access in any weather, for free, after that. The entire installation would cost less than a month of wired phone service for the people who have wired phones in the same area.
Every few years, fly around and drop a few more and patch the places that have gone dead because of lightning or cows or vandals.
— Marco McClean
CATCH OF THE DAY, May 14, 2016
Bewley, Carrigg, DeLossantos
ANTHONY BEWLEY, Potter Valley. More than an ounce of pot, probation revocation.
SONO CARRIGG, Willits. Controlled substance, under influence, probation revocation.
DANIEL DELOSSANTOS, Talmage. Under influence, probation revocation.
Delvalle, Hanover, Hernandez-Paniagua
AMANDA DELVALLE, Boonville. Failure to appear.
JOSHUA HANOVER, Covelo. Community Supervision violation.
RENE HERNANDEZ-PANIAGUA, Willits. Drunk in public, failure to appear.
Maslack, Salo, Shannon
DENNIE MASLACK, Ukiah. Domestic battery.
ERNIE SALO, Fort Bragg. Burglary.
TASHEENA SHANNON, Willits. Under influence.
CONNECTING WITH SOHUM’S HOMELESS:
A Lost Coast Outpost Walk-a-Long
by Andrew Goff
On a not-all-that-unusual sunny SoHum day, your Lost Coast Outpost had the chance to take a little walk-a-long through Garberville with Sergeant Jesse Taylor, of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, and John Anderson, a clinician with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Mental Health Department, as they interacted with the local homeless population. With the dismantling of Palco Marsh, Humboldt’s highest profile homeless encampment, still fresh in our collective minds, no local topic seems to provoke community frustration as much as homelessness, but solutions often seem in short supply. Today’s goal? Building rapport with the homeless population and connecting those in need with services that might benefit them.
We come across a pair of middle-aged gentlemen sitting on the raised edge of the Ray’s Food Place parking lot. One of the men is familiar to Sergeant Taylor. As we approach the smell of urine hangs in the air. Sergeant Taylor greets the man and they catch up by conversing somewhat jovially about another local homeless man who recently landed in jail.
“I hate to say it, but it’s a good place for him,” the man says with a laugh. The unfamiliar man, perhaps wondering if he’s in some sort of trouble, speaks up.
“I just walked up here, sir, and sat down,” he says, nervously.
“You’re good,” Taylor says. “You’re new to town, right?”
“Yes, sir,” the man replies adding he’s from Florida. He says he plans to stick around Humboldt for awhile but promises he “ain’t gonna bother anyone.”
“How’d you get here? I’m always interested in how people got here,” Anderson asks.
“Uh, it’s a long trip, sir,” the man says. Anderson asks the newcomer if he’s getting enough to eat and then informs him about the regular free meal available Tuesdays through Thursdays starting at noon at the Mateel Community Center. There’s also a food pantry across the street from Chautauqua Natural Foods.
“There’s way more services up in Eureka,” Anderson tells the newcomer noting that there are places to get food stamps and more housing options. The newcomer says he collects Social Security Disability benefits as the result of a surfing accident and rolls up his pants leg to reveal a long scar on his knee.
“Your career as a knee model is out the window,” Anderson tells the man and they share a laugh. Soon after we’re off walking again.
John Anderson moved to Leggett about a year ago after spending his career in Eureka.
An HSU graduate, Anderson had been working for local lumber mills until the mid-1970s when a friend recommended that he seek a job at the county’s Sempervirens Psychiatric Health Facility. Three decades later he retired as Deputy Mental Health Director. He managed to stay mostly retired for six years, but when a part time position opened up close to his new home he couldn’t pass it up.
“You work for the mental health department for thirty years you get the opportunity to develop a unique set of skills,” Anderson says adding he missed the work.
After the county and the Eureka Police Department joint MIST program found success with its attempts to build relationships with local homeless individuals, Anderson told us both his department and the Sheriff’s Office expressed interest in employing a similar model to better connect with populations countywide. They teamed up for the first time in SoHum last week.
“Some of our clientele can be unpredictable,” Anderson says noting that having an officer by his side can help stabilize interactions.
The multiagency 2015 Point in Time count tallied 1,319 homeless people living in Humboldt County with 13 percent of that total — a little less than 200 people — dwelling in Southern Humboldt. Neither Sergeant Taylor or Anderson wanted to speculate on the number of people currently residing in the area but Taylor casually estimates that the population triples in the fall when travelers swarm into town looking for marijuana industry work. Anderson thinks that Humboldt’s drug culture and substance abuse is at the root of local homelessness.
“Some people believe the big problem is mental illness. I don’t believe that. I think the big problem is drugs and alcohol,” Anderson says. “Drug and alcohol use is rampant in this county, especially here in SoHum.”
“Violence comes with it,” Sergeant Taylor says. “These people, especially the ones who are addicts, will do just about anything to get their fix. That includes violence against each other, theft, property crimes…”
Sergeant Taylor seems to have intimate knowledge of nearly every person we encounter and notes chapters of their stories as we walk. One person used to have a successful marijuana growing operation before falling on hard times. Another had recently been a missing person.
“You get to learn everyone’s story pretty quick down here,” Taylor says. He’s been a supervisor in SoHum for about a year and half and has worked in the area for about six years (he previously worked out of Eureka). The vast section of Humboldt he and his deputies are tasked with overseeing runs north to Redcrest, south to the Mendocino County line, west to Shelter Cove and east to Blocksburg. Usually there are there are two other deputies in addition to Taylor on duty. On the day of our walk, though, there is only one other deputy working and they are off transporting an arrestee to the Humboldt County Correctional facility in Eureka for booking.
“For another half hour or so I’m it,” Taylor says. Sometimes deputies from the north will agree to meet halfway for an arrestee handoff, but the bare bones staffing in SoHum means that Taylor sometimes has to be rather selective about what crimes warrant an arrest.
“Down here we walk away from things that I would have never walked away from when I worked in Eureka,” Taylor says.
We take a short drive to the north end of Garberville crossing over to the west side of Highway 101 on our way to “Hippie Hill,” likely metro SoHum’s most sizable houseless encampment. There, atop a tree-covered raised embankment adjacent the freeway, somewhere between 20 and 30 people have established camps boasting features suggesting permanence similar to the ones, until recently, found in the Palco Marsh; propane tanks, wooden pallets, tarps affixed to trees, etc.
And yes, there is lots of trash.
“It’s out of control,” Taylor says which is, in part, why Hippie Hill’s days are numbered. Taylor tells us that, in roughly two weeks time, county workers will execute a sweep in some ways similar to the one carried out in Eureka.
Part of the reason that Hippie Hill has been able to flourish for so long as a homeless destination is that the owner of the land did not live in the area. Its proximity to town and the fact that it’s mostly hidden from the road made it an ideal encampment location. Additionally the land, Taylor suspects, is not developable due to its proximity to the freeway and easement issues with PG&E.
But now ownership of Hippie Hill has changed hands. According to Taylor, a local business owner, fed up with problems associated with the camp, bought the land and has given the Sheriff’s Office the go ahead to clean up the area. During our visit Taylor reminds campers that they’ll soon need to move along. One woman tells us she is comfortable on the hill and is not eager to move.
“I have the best camp on the hill,” she says adding that she appreciates the safety in numbers benefits of being in the encampment.
She tells us that she came out to Humboldt from Arizona with her boyfriend who had hoped to find work in the marijuana industry. Things happen. He went back home to live closer to his child. She decided to stay and continue he “soul search.” She’s appreciative that people like Anderson are are around to assist.
“I’m pretty self-sufficient but I need help sometimes,” she says noting that feminine products are hard to come by. Her mom has been sending her money and she’s been experimenting with making jewelry. We ask her where she will go if she can no longer stay on Hippie Hill. She takes a second, then gives her answer.
THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF DEAD MEAT:
Why Mad Cows are the Least of It
by Jeffrey St. Clair & Alexander Cockburn
There’s a sour irony to the fact that it’s taken the extremely rare mad cow disease, which has thus far killed a very small number of people in England, to raise the alarm about the consequences of intensive meat and milk production. Over the past 150 years the demands of such production have destroyed much of the world’s ecological balance and impoverished millions.
Start today with one giant U.S. corporation, Monsanto, which makes chemicals and agribusiness products. It has spent many years and a billion dollars or two developing recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone. The purpose of this product is to increase milk yield in dairy cattle. Inject BGH into cows twice a week and the milk yield goes up by some 10 to 20 percent. But crucially, with the artificially increased milk production, the cows need the infamous protein supplements made from rendered cows and sheep, thus opening the way to diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease), which can transfer to humans.
There are other problems, of course. First, who needs higher productivity per dairy cow when there’s a huge milk glut in the United States? Second, as happened with poultry and now with hogs, BGH accelerates the demise of small producers and the emergence of the industrial dairy conglomerates. Like any junkie, cows hooked on BGH tend to get sick, mostly with mastitis, an infection of the udder. Treatment of mastitis requires liberal doses of antibiotics. The antibiotic injected into the cow passes on to the human consumer, and thus contributes to the process whereby more and more bacteria are building up greater resistance to antibiotics. Moreover, BGH also causes cows to produce more Insulin Growth-like Hormone-1 (or IGH-1), which has been linked to a number of disorders in humans, including acro-megaly (gigantism in the form of excessive growth of the head and extremities) and an increased risk of prostate, breast, and ovarian cancer. There is also research to suggest that IGH-1 reduces the body’s ability to suppress naturally occurring tumors.
Mad cow disease — a degenerative brain disorder first detected in England in 1986 — is a comparative trifle in some ways. Cattle apparently contracted BSE by eating protein supplements made from rendered sheep infected with scrapie, a form of spongiform encephalopathy. Infected cattle become disoriented, suffer seizures, fall down, and die. Scientists believe that consumption of meat from BSE-infected cattle leads to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a fatal neurological disease. The virus may incubate for 30 years. There is no way to detect it or treat it.
The U.S. government, of course, maintains that no BSE-infected cattle have been discovered in the United States. But in fact, the disease may have appeared in the U.S. before the outbreak in England. According to a Jan. 24, 1994 story by Joel Bleifuss in In These Times, Richard Marsh, a veterinary scientist at the University of Wisconsin, was raising the alarm about BSE in American cattle back in 1985. Marsh discovered an outbreak of spongiform encephalopathy at a mink farm in Wisconsin. The mink had been fed a protein supplement made from rendered cows that had supposedly died from “downer cow syndrome.” Marsh believes the cows had actually succumbed to a previously undetected form of BSE. (In 2012, a California dairy cow tested positive for Mad Cow Disease.)
“The signs that these cattle showed were not the widely recognized signs of BSE — not signs of mad cow disease,” Marsh told Bleifuss. “What they showed was what you might expect from a downer cow.” About 100,000 cows a year die from downer cow syndrome in the United States. Most of these dead cows are rendered into protein supplements to feed other cattle. If this is true, the U.S. cattle population may already be infected with BSE and American meat consumers may have already contracted CJD. Still, the U.S. government has done nothing to regulate the contents of animal feed.
Intensive meat production — these days mostly of beef, veal, pork, and chicken — is an act of violence: primarily, of course, an act of violence against the creatures involved. But it is also violence against nature and against poor people. David Wright Hamilton, a biologist at the University of Georgia, once wrote that an “alien ecologist observing… Earth might conclude that cattle is the dominant species in our biosphere.” The modern livestock industry economy and the passion for meat have radically altered the look of the planet. Today, across huge swaths of the globe, from Australia to the western plains of the United States, one sees the conquest landscapes of the European mass-meat-producers and their herds of ungulates. Because of romantic ideas of “unchanging” landscapes it is hard to grasp the rapidity of this process, or the degree to which it leaves the land changed forever.
Take California. In the late 18th century, when the first cattle herds arrived in what the Spanish colonists called Alta California, the region presented itself as a Mediterranean landscape, but of a sort that had been extinguished in Europe for many centuries. There were meadows with perennial bunchgrasses, beardless wild rye, oat grass, perennial forbs: 22 million acres of such prairie and 500,000 acres of marsh grass. Beyond this, there were 8 million acres of live oak woodlands and park-like forests. Beyond and above these, chaparral.
By the 1860s, in the wake of the gold rush, some 3 million cattle were grazing California’s open ranges and the degradation was rapid, particularly as ranchers had been overstocking to cash in on the cattle boom. Floods and drought between 1862 and 1865 consummated the ecological crisis. In the spring of 1863, 97,000 cattle were grazing in parched Santa Barbara County. Two years later only 12,100 remained. In less than a century, California’s pastoral utopia had been destroyed; the ranchers moved east of the Sierra Nevada into the Great Basin, or north, to colder and drier terrain. ￼ California is one of America’s largest dairy states, and livestock agriculture uses almost a third of all irrigation water. It takes 360 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef (that’s counting irrigation for grain, trough water for stock, and so on), which is why, further east in the feedlot states of Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas, the Oglalla aquifer has been so severely depleted.
The answer? Drill deeper. Deep-drilling began as a response to the dustbowl disaster of the 1930s, itself a product of farming practices ill-suited to the natural conditions; intensive pumping of the high plains aquifer began after WWII. By 1978 there were 170,000 wells drawing off 23 million acre-feet of water each year. (An acre-foot represents the amount of water required to cover one acre with water one foot deep.) This is in large part a testament to the requirements of a livestock industry worth $10 billion a year.
And of course the gasoline, diesel fuel, natural gas, and electricity required to pump the water up several hundred feet from the shrinking aquifer are as finite as the water itself. Sometime in the next century, the high plains will be forced back to dryland farming, with such descendants of the present population as remain facing other environmental disasters — prominent among them the poisoning of the remaining groundwater by herbicides, fertilizer, and vast amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus from the manure excreted day by day in the feedlots. At the end of the 1980s, Frank and Deborah Popper of Rutgers University began arguing that an era of agricultural “pullback” lay ahead, and the future of the plains might include “buffalo commons” in which native animals such as the buffalo would roam over federally owned grasslands once more.
The pattern is the same the world round: Unsustainable grazing and ranching are laying waste to drylands, forests, and wild species. Brazil’s military dictators, who came to power in the early 1960s, hoped to convert their nation’s Amazonian rain forests, which cover more than 60 percent of the country, to cattle pasture and thus make Brazil a major beef producer on the world market. A speculative frenzy ensued, with big companies acquiring million-acre spreads that they promptly stripped of trees in order to get tax write-offs and kindred subsidies from the junta. Big ranchers accounted for most of the destruction. Within a decade or so, degraded scrubland had yielded money to the corporations but few cattle, and none of these could be sold on the world market because they were diseased. Indeed, the Amazon is a net beef-importing region. Meanwhile, many of the 2 or 3 million people who lived in the rainforest have been evicted with each encroachment of the burning season.
Such are the assaults on the environment and the poor. By 1990 about half of all American rangeland was severely degraded, with habitats along narrow streams the worst in memory. Australian pastures show the same pattern. In the drylands of South Africa, overgrazing has made over 7 million acres useless for cattle, and 35 million acres of savanna are rapidly becoming equally useless.
Over the past quarter-century many national governments — prodded by the World Bank — have plunged into schemes for intensive grain-based meat production. In Mexico the share of cropland growing feed and fodder for animals went from 5 percent in 1960 to 23 percent in 1980. Sorghum, used for animal feed, is now Mexico’s second largest crop by area. At the same time, the area of land producing the staples for poor folk in Mexico — corn, rice, wheat, and beans — has fallen relentlessly. Mexico is now a net corn importer, with imports from rich countries such as Canada and the United States wiping out millions of subsistence farmers who have to migrate to the cities or to El Norte. Mexico feeds 30 percent of its grain to livestock while 22 percent of the population suffers from malnutrition. Multiply this baleful pattern across the world. Grain-based livestock production inexorably leads to larger and larger units and economies of scale, in a kind of world beef gulag whose consequences are now causing such a panic.
(A version of this article originally appeared in City Pages in 1996. Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org)
ELI: Male, Black Tabby, about 5 years old. Eli is friendly, easy-going and mellow. Eli gets along with kids and enjoys hanging out with them, and probably will do find with other cats. Eli makes unique meow sounds which will greet you when you come home. This is the purrfect cat to keep you company on a rainy (we can hope, right?) day. Eli will bring joy, happiness and love into your life. Please come and meet him at the Ukiah Shelter — 298 Plant Road. To see all of the shelter's cats and dogs currently available for adoption, go to http://www.mendoanimalshelter.com
Major (for all Catch 22 fans....) Major has applied to be the shelter tour guide, and he might just get the job. Despite being a dog, Major is one of the most dependable, trustworthy guys we know! You can count on him to be ready for a walk, to keep peace in the play yard and to listen to commands. Given his obedient nature, his smarts and sweetness, we expect this guy to be an easy and wonderful addition to his his new family. Major would do great in any kind of loving home, but we think he might be especially good for a family with older children who want the companionship of a dog without the challenge of training or extensive exercise. Major is 58 pounds and 6 years old. To see all of the shelter's guests who are currently available for adoption, go to http://www.mendoanimalshelter.com
THIS WEEK AT THE UKIAH LIBRARY
LEGO Star Wars, Ms. Frizzle, & Wine & Unwind
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Lego Star Wars: Droid Tales
Sunday, May 15th at 2pm
Ukiah Library is delighted to present Lego Star Wars: Droid Tales for children of all ages on Sunday, May 15th at 2pm.
This movie showing is sponsored by the Friends of the Library, Ukiah Valley and is part of Ukiah Library’s Explore Space: A Cosmic Journey exhibit.
Explore Space, a traveling exhibition for libraries, is part of the STAR Library Education Network (STAR_Net) led by the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute. Exhibit partners include the American Library Association, the Lunar and Planetary Institute, and Afterschool Alliance. Explore Earth is supported through a grant from the National Science Foundation.
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Wednesday, May 18th 6pm
Ukiah Library is screening The Martian, starring Matt Damon and directed by Ridley Scott, on Wednesday, May 18th at 6pm. This is a food friendly event. Bring potatoes ;)
This movie showing is sponsored by the Friends of the Library, Ukiah Valley and is part of Ukiah Library’s Explore Space: A Cosmic Journey exhibit.
Explore Space, a traveling exhibition for libraries, is part of the STAR Library Education Network (STAR_Net) led by the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute. Exhibit partners include the American Library Association, the Lunar and Planetary Institute, and Afterschool Alliance. Explore Earth is supported through a grant from the National Science Foundation.
Wine & Unwind
Friday May 20th, 5-8 PM
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Create a starry night night-light with our easy-to-follow guided instruction. Follow along and choose a constellation, asterism, or go your own way & design your own interpretation of the night sky. Add optional LED lights to create a soothing night-light. 1-3 hours from start-to-finish. Chat with friends, sip some wine, create some art, & enjoy!
Ages 21 and over. You can sign up here: http://www.co.mendocino.ca.us/library/unwind.htm
Supplies provided for free, wine/refreshments available with a donation to the library. No previous painting experience or skill required.
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Journey into Space!
Saturday, May 21st 2:30-4pm
Activities will include a story time, and "The Magic School Bus: Space Adventures: Walking on the Moon” video. We will also make moon rocks and walk in moon boots.
This program is designed for children in grades K-4 and their parents. We hope Mz Frizzle will join us ;)
For a full list of events, check out our website or follow us on Facebook.
FAMILY REUNION: A TRUE WAR STORY IN WORDS & PICTURES
by Dan O'Neill