Off the Record (June 7, 2017)

by AVA News Service, June 7, 2017

WILLITS WEEKLY REPORTER Mike A’Dair picked up an interesting tidbit from the May 16 Board of Supervisors meeting which helps to explain Mendo’s housing shortage, particularly rentals.

A’DAIR reported that the Supervisors discussed a proposed ordinance that would limit so-called “short-term” rentals (less than 30 days) by restricting new business licenses for short term commercial rentals to only one per parcel unless they also include two residential rentals in their application. This, somehow is supposed to encourage more second units.

IN THE DISCUSSION OF “inclusionary housing” (where developers either “include” a few “affordable” units in new construction or pay into a fee which would somehow lead to affordable housing) County staff told the Board that since the “inclusionary housing ordinance” went into effect in 2009 (eight years ago) there has been a little over $100k deposited into the fund (and not spent on anything) and exactly ZERO “inclusionary units” erected.

SUPERVISOR DAN GJERDE volunteered to consider the problem and come back to the board with some ideas for creating some honest to god affordable housing via county ordinance tweaking. In the meantime, and it’s getting meaner and meaner out there, don’t expect any improvement in available rental housing at reasonable prices any time soon.

LOOKING BACK over some of the recently issued Mendo pot regs as summarized a few weeks ago by Ukiah Daily Journal reporter Ashley Tressel, we found several individual rules that on their face are just plain unenforceable, and absurd even by Mendo standards. Ms. Tressel quotes Supervisor John McCowen: “Anyone growing medical marijuana for sale without a permit will face greatly increased odds of code enforcement and abatement.”

THE MAFIA couldn't have said it better. Pay us or here come Hoyle and Hendry.

IT ALSO begs the question, What if you’re growing with a permit but not complying with its terms? And just to be sure there’s plenty of wiggle room for pot growers with permits which nicely buttress the County’s General Fund, Tressel adds that “the county employees that have been tasked with enforcement are said to be flexible and will work amicably with cultivators who want to abide by the rules.”

MAFIA AGAIN. You don't have the money this week, we'll see you next week. We promise we will be — what’s that word? — oh, yeah, we’ll be amicable.

TAKE THIS RULE: “Maximum of 100 feet of pot canopy per patient.” We all know how carefully regulated “patients” are, and hell yes, the county will be out there with a tape measure. "Yo! Stoner Dude. Yer ten feet long here."

OR THIS ONE: Cultivation is not allowed “at all” within 1,000 feet of a youth-oriented facility (school, church, etc.). O yes, the protection of our virginal youth, most of whom… Well, no need to get all wound up here. But really, the county will be out there, this time with their extra-long tape measures? “All distances are measured from the nearest point of the fence (outside) or the nearest exterior wall (inside) to the nearest boundary line of a youth-oriented facility or the nearest exterior wall of a residence. Applicants may seek reductions when they receive their permits.”

HAR DE HAR. Very funny, Mendo. (But the laffs just keep on coming!)

“ANY CULTIVATION activity should not produce an odor that causes as little as an annoyance or exceed the county’s noise level standards (as in running a generator). Enforcement for this issue is complaint-based and will be carried out by the Cannabis Compliance Unit.”

EXCUSE US, but if the county refused to enforce its noise ordinance when the whine industry had its wind machines going every night for a month, they're unlikely to enforce nasal assaults or pot noise.

“ALL PROSPECTIVE MEMBERS must sign a written membership application and cannot sell to non-members or possess more cannabis than meets the needs of their patients.”

DUDE, got yer membership card?

“THE AGRICULTURAL COMMISSIONER must complete an on-site inspection before a permit can be issued and at least one per year after that, giving at least 24 hours notice.”

NONE OF THIS will ever happen. It’s pure fantasy. Only the mega-grows, the corporados, will be signing up. They have the money to pay someone to sift through this preposterous bullshit of a process and pretend to comply. Now and again, someone will be cited for the sake of appearances, and one or another low hanging fruit (no homophobia intended) will play Let’s Make A Deal with DA Eyster and, for a small-ish fee, will trade his gro-felony for a misdemeanor.

WE SUGGEST this procedural simplification: Send out the pot squad, aka County of Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Team, in all their special forces-like gear, to knock on doors. “We know you’re growing weed here. You have to pay us. We offer a sliding scale; big grows twenty grand, little ones five. If you fork over, we’ll go away and leave you alone until next year. If you don’t, we will back in one hour, guns drawn, to kick in your door and scream at you to get down on the floor. If you have a pit bull he or she will be summarily executed.”

SURE ’NUFF, just last week this happened:

THE RECENT COMMET RAIDS in the Redwood Valley area have irritated several top County officials. Just as the County’s new medical cannabis program is being rolled out, a County of Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Team (COMMET) cut down what is described as “300 to 500” plants at a gro which was enrolled in last year’s 9.31 program and which was apparently in the process of applying for this year’s much more complicated and burdensome process. The grower of the 300-500 plants had a sign posted on their clearly unhidden grow saying to please call their attorney before taking any action. Sheriff’s Captain Greg Van Patten has said that Sheriff Allman personally ordered the raid — aka “executed a search warrant” — leading to questions about what constitutes an intent to apply for a permit.

COUNTY STAFFERS who have spent lots of time developing and implementing the new permit rules are concerned that the Sheriff’s action will scare away potential permit applications as growers face daunting permit and paperwork challenges while trying to get their plants started for the growing season (for outdoor grows).

THE COUNTY’S PRESS RELEASE issued late Friday afternoon didn’t do much to clarify the situation. It simply re-stated current licensing steps.

AND NO ONE seems to know if the Sheriff/COMMET will file charges against the targets of the raid of if the DA will act on them.

SO FAR we’ve heard that something like 350 permits have been applied for but we have not heard how many have been approved or returned for more information. The County budget is based on around 600 permit applications at around $3,000 each (plus various other agency fees and tax minimums and sales taxes on actual sales, not counting lawyer fees, consultants, permit costs for water and wildlife agencies…).

THE REDWOOD VALLEY COMMET RAID has further complicated an already byzantine and unwieldy arrangement at the same time that more and more grumpy growers are pressuring County officials to get their act together and not make the permit process any more difficult or risky than it already is.

LOOKED AT CYNICALLY, which is the only sane way to view public events and personalities these days, last week's pot raid in Redwood Valley can be seen as a warning to all other Mendo pot growers that you either pay up for your County gro license or a Redwood Valley type raid will happen to you. The busted Redwood Valley gro, by the way, had a permit in 2016 but had not yet applied for one this year.

NOTES FROM A FAILING MIND: Among the many minor irritations of modern life, add Google graphics, not to mention Google itself, another subject. Every day there's a fresh provocation every time you turn on your computer — cartoon figures waving, tumbling, bouncing.... And muted gongs, mysterious atonal tinklings and other intrusive cutesy-isms. (Not hard to tell that Silicon Valley was raised by TV sets.) The new American brain seems to require constant noise, subliminal image-flits, context-free "news" blips. Yes, I could live without computers, but for now the confounded things are necessary to The Mission.

TODAY, Google says we're "celebrating Zaha Hadid." We are? Can I salute from the sitting position?

OF COURSE I have no idea who this person is, no curiosity about who she is, but if I were I'd have to hit Google and that's probably the point so I can be converted to a thousand sales algorithms.

WE OFTEN hear from passo-aggressos that "We'd really like to stop by and talk to you about...."

TRANSLATION: We want to explain to you face-to-face why you're soooooo wrong about everything, and how we're so gol durn cool and so irresistibly charming how could any rational person resist "sitting down with us."

WE SAY, "Put it in a letter."

THE PASSO-POSSE comes back with "It would be soooooo much better if we talked in person so you'll understand what an unreasonable person you are and how correct and charming we are.

JUST SAYIN', but if you can't make your argument in writing you have no confidence in it, and if you have no confidence in it it's probably because it's even falser than you.

KINDA of a case in point: This guy I've never seen before walks in and says, "I'm going to send you a great book on the slave trade, but you've got to return the book and you have to promise me to write about it."

I TRY NOT to be rude, ever, so, on the safe assumption he's not listening because he's been here for five minutes and he's still monologuing me, I say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. And yeah."

I'VE READ BOOKS on the slave trade. I'm pretty sure I could pass a snap quiz on the subject. In fact, I'm current on the entire lib-left catechism. My opinions would pass the most strenuous KPFA litmus! (Check that: the results would depend on the person administering the test. Some of the lefties, like their psychological co-dependents on the political right, yearn for the eternal boot in the face. No deviation from the catechism permitted.)

ON THE OFF CHANCE Señor Chronophage sends me the slavery book, I'll do what I do with most books — if it grabs me after two pages, I'll read it all; if it doesn't, back it goes COD.

HEALDSBURG'S leadership is discussing how to avoid being overwhelmed by the tourist tides which, because of the town's proximity to the Bay Area's millions, rolls in every day with tsunami-like force. Healdsburg is a well-managed little place reminiscent of a time when most American towns were coherent and attractive, even Ukiah and Willits, the exact contemporary counterpoints in every respect to contempo Healdsburg. But precious little Healdsburg is bearable only in the early morning hours. By noon, it's a mob scene. And there's so much money there now that Healdsburg is just about finito.

IF AMERICANS were good at being rich, they might at least be bearable, and maybe even magnanimous enough to give us some nice buildings, an attractive park or two, but these animals we've got going in this country? En masse, where you find them in Healdsburg every day past noon, I dream of Robespierre, guillotines, and acres of severed heads rolling south down 101.

RANDOM OBSERVATIONS: Out early in the morning for a couple miles through the sleeping streets of Healdsburg, Boonville and the Crypt of Saint Anselm, I invariably pass women getting in a brisk aerobic hour or so, but I seldom see men up and about for the purpose of exercise.

NOT SURE it was intended as an insult, but Bruce McEwen, the nattiest reporter in the county, and certainly the nattiest dresser clothed out of second hand stores, was recently described by another writer as looking “like a reporter from 1885.” I’d say that's a compliment. Looking around at any contemporary gathering of American men, you have to wonder if they have any idea of the spectacle they present. Or care? The crowd at the ballpark, for instance, looks like a cross between inmates of a nut house and a circus.

CONTRAST the sartorially grotesque male prevalent in public places today with the gentlemen of yesteryear, right up to about 1967 when America, along with the onset of its historical amnesia, also went blind. Any street scene from any American city in, say, 1950, you'll see men of all classes and races nicely dressed, many of them in suits and ties. Women, at least in the Frisco I was familiar with, wouldn't think of going downtown without their hats and gloves. Today, you see granddads walking around in lemon shorts and lime green shirts, and grandma togged out like a teenager, or a senior center hooker. You seldom see any person, young or old, who looks like he's taken some time with his appearance. Yup, I think it was better when we had standards. Now that there are none, we have the president a nation of slobs deserves.

MIGUEL LANIGAN of Lake County, writes: “Today, I memorialize a true American hero, my father, General John Ralph Lanigan, a combat officer who lead Marines on five island campaigns in WW II: Saipan, Tinian, Roi, Numar and Iwo Jima. On Iwo Jima, he was awarded the second highest medal our nation awards Marines--the Navy Cross, with a "V" for valor under fire. Were it not for my father, the iconic Flag Raising at Mont Suribachi photo would never be. Joe Rosenthal, the photographer who took it, got a tip from my dad that there was to be a flag raising on Suribachi and the rest is history. After the war, Rosenthal had my mother and father as his guest in San Francisco, where he gave them what dad called "The cook's tour." They remained friends for the rest of their lives. “

UDJ REPORTER OFF THE RAILS: Erick O’Donnell, 27, was so loaded he somehow made his way into the late-night home of strangers. “ During the subsequent investigation, officers learned that the male resident was asleep in his bedroom, while his girlfriend was asleep in another bedroom. The male resident woke up to what he thought was his dog barking and found O’Donnell inside his room. The male resident had no idea who O’Donnell was or why O’Donnell was inside his residence. The male resident yelled at O’Donnell to get out of his house. As the resident got up to deal with O’Donnell and O’Donnell went toward the resident, who was able to wrestle the intruder to the floor. The resident’s girlfriend awoke, saw what was happening and called the police.” The boy reporter is lucky he wandered into a benign home. Lottsa Mendo addresses he would have been shot.

RESTROOM PROTOCOLS, DeYoung Museum, San Francisco, the signs over the bathrooms read, “Any Gender.” It was hilarious to watch three senior Chinese women the other day try to puzzle out which room they were supposed to use, and they were still trying to figure it out when we walked on.

CORRECT ME if I'm wrong here, but didn't we learn in human biology class that you're either one sex or the other, and there are only two of them? Some confused individual may feel like he or she would rather be the opposite sex, but shouldn't he or she use the restroom assigned to him or her at birth regardless of his or her adult costume?

THE HEADLINE in a weekend Press Democrat read: "Staggered by setbacks, activist Julia Butterfly Hill is not backing down." I was sobbing from the first paragraph, but when I came to my senses I recalled that an attractive young woman with a practiced woo-woo patter, did a two-year tree sit near Carlotta in Humboldt County. If she had been an unattractive young woman, Butterfly's skeleton would still be up in the tree.

IT WASN'T LONG after Butterfly had come to public attention that movie stars and random celebs were climbing up for well-documented visits with her, getting their greenie tickets punched, too. (More than 70% of Americans claim to be environmentalists. Coming out for the environment is hardly a lonely or bold stand.)

MS. FLY deftly parlayed her fame and unique ability to discuss current events with trees, especially old trees, into an expensive home in the Oakland hills and an un-green Lexus to get around in. The PD's odd notion that she's some kind of martyr cum hard luck kid is not only wrong, it's bizarre given the known facts.

MY NEIGHBORS down the road in Yorkville, the Maillards, were also celebrated last week by the Press Democrat. The paper's serf-like awe in the face of big money rivals any devotion accorded medieval monarchs. "Face down in the mud, everyone, here comes King Henry."

THE MAILLARDS placed their thousands of acres Yorkville ranch into a conservation easement, meaning it can never be subdivided but it can continue to be logged and cattled and sheeped. In return the Maillairds get a huge tax break and, uh, ah, er the rest of us get nothing.

PUZZLING HED in the Ukiah Daily Journal last week: “Series of talks in Ukiah to explore sex trafficking near Mendocino County.” Sex traffickers are closing in on us?

LOOKED INTO a complaint that the Fort Bragg City Hall paint job rendered by outta town contractors did not follow paint protocols or go out to bid. My ace investigator looked through the state statutes, called the air control board and went down to town hall to read the pertinent parts of the inland development code etc etc. There were 11 bids for the job the lowest one got it at $37k, and got the contract for painting the guest house as well.


(1) The large extended family I married into eons ago lost its family heroin addict last year. He will not be missed. He was taken from the homeless shelter he was living in to a hospital because he was not feeling good. Returned to the shelter a few hours later he had a heart attack and died. Over the years he had ripped off virtually everybody in the family to pay for his habit, stealing guns, power tools cash and anything he could get his hands on. He burned all his bridges and as it turned out Eleanor Rigby had more people going to her funeral. I don’t think he even had a funeral. Twenty years ago I had been given legal guardianship of the then young man when he was out on bail. That lasted three days before he skipped out and disappeared. His life was an unbroken string of failed treatment attempts and petty crime and in that he was no different in that from the many other heroin addicts who grace Seattle with their presence. I get that heroin is highly addictive and I agree that having no life prospects kills any desire to get the monkey off one’s back, but my own feeling about long term heroin addicts is that they are selfish, self-centered people who care not about the pain they inflict on others in their endless shenanigans of trying to get their next hit. This is not the first time America’s Opioid Epidemic has been in the news nor will it be the last. Perhaps this time the brouhaha is meant to distract from Fox News scandals, I do not know and I really do not care. Nothing will come of it. Nothing will come of the opioid epidemic attention this time around and little effort will be invested to understand what’s behind the choices people make to live pointless meaningless lives. The reason is that the American heroin addict actually embraces some very deep American core values which will not be discussed because they are sacred axioms on which we center our lives. Selfishness and self-centeredness is the American way.

(2) I’m not exactly sure what Memorial Day is all about; the honor of those who have died in battle? Such actions are certainly noteworthy, but is that what a nation “under God” should be celebrating? Now, I’m not saying the nation is not worthy to be defended in violent battle, just like home and family should be protected from marauders. But these actions simply arise from reason and common sense. To position young men (almost all of them, men) in times and places of exposure to violent death for questionable purposes, does not strike me as a defense of the homeland. Should we not take time today to question the reason for war, any war, and renew the idea that America does not engage others in battle that do not bear on the defense of American soil.

(3) The purpose of Memorial Day is to memorialize the idea of war itself. I wonder if anyone has ever considered that we should stop? An eye for an eye until we’re all blind is just as stupid now as it’s ever been. Wouldn’t it be grand if the only ones permitted to fight wars were the actual politicians (no paid proxies) who voted for them, and further, no high tech allowed. Swords, knives, axes, and bats only, fought in groups of no more than two per side, and of course televised for the world to see. Must kill your opponent up close and personal and then must take trophies afterward (ears, scalps, heads, hearts, etc.) and present them to immediate family members, who would be required to attend and observe the fighting.

(4) Once Muslim fighting-age males are equal in number to non-Muslim fighting-age males in France, then I put my money on Islam as the dominant and ruling force in France. Who do you think will win there, the cafe-layabout-atheist-nihilist-degenerate or the devout bearded man with certainty about the righteousness of his faith? Maybe there’s some on the nationalist right that will put up a fight, but how many? How many formerly Christian French will the mosques attract? What about in America? If Trump fails as the man with the plan and the helping hand, then what if the hard-man with a plan and a helping hand comes with a smile and a beard and a skull-cap and sez to people look here, you can count on us, unlike those godless reprobates who only look after themselves. And oh, by the way, don’t believe what you hear about Islam. Come to the mosque, all are welcome, bring your friends. What if he sez it in American English with a homey-homegrown drawl?

(5) I’d like to add that the point of higher education today IS to become privileged. It used to be about learning, knowledge, and carrying along the culture. That’s before Big Ed became one of the Rackets. Parents who pay big money to purchase privilege for their kids don’t want their progeny flunking out and wasting their money either. Hence the proliferation of pseudo-scientific and opinion-based “studies”. They’re an easier passing grade than basket weaving, which requires a certain amount of skill and application.

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