Valley People (Aug. 9, 2017)
by AVA News Service, August 9, 2017
SCANNERS throughout the county crackled to life Sunday about 7pm with reports of a shooting in the Rancho Navarro sub-division. It was soon confirmed that William “Willie” Martinez, 55, was dead, and Michael Saner, 58, the suspected assailant, had fled.
SANER hadn’t fled far. He was arrested at Comptche’s Chapel of the Redwood Baptist Church, not ten miles away, a little more than two hours later.
MARTINEZ was shot to death on the property of long-time Navarro resident, Fritz Ohm. Ohm and Martinez had been eating when Saner appeared, complaining that Martinez had taken property belonging to him. Martinez was shot from close range by a single round fired from a twelve-gage shotgun.
SANER and Martinez had been sharing a rental not far from Ohm’s place. Saner had recently been arrested when, driving drunk, he piled into a tree near Navarro. Earlier in his brief life in the Anderson Valley, Saner had lived in the teepee house near Jack’s Valley Store. He is universally described as truculent and generally unpleasant, while Martinez, who is said to be from Oakland, enjoyed a reputation for amiability.
PERSONALITIES ASIDE, Saner and Martinez can be said to represent the downside of the liberalization of the drug laws. They hadn’t come to Mendocino County for the beauty of the place.
OVER THE PAST MONTH, the ordinarily tranquil precincts of Rancho Navarro, have seen a multi-agency drug raid, with half the perps sprinting off into the woods before they could be arrested, and a bloodied man waving a machete as he stood in the middle of one of the Rancho’s main roads. Now a murder.
THE ANDERSON VALLEY is holding its collective breath as our friend and neighbor, Gloria Ross, recovers from worrisome cardio-irregularities at St. Helena. The first of twin ordeals for Gloria began Friday afternoon about four as she drove home to Boonville from Ukiah when her vehicle was found turned over in the middle of 253 about two miles from Boonville. Gloria was pinned in the wreckage, suspended upside down by her seatbelt when a Philo man, with help from two younger, stronger passersby, was able to free the popular former teacher and Mendocino County native. Mrs. Ross was miraculously uninjured in her harrowing accident, cause not known, but transported to Ukiah by ambulance for observation. Released from the hospital, and back at home on Anderson Valley Way, Gloria then began experiencing chest pain and, as we go to press, is undergoing tests at the hospital in St. Helena specializing in heart repair.
WE’RE REMINDED that Fair entry forms have got to be in this week, and also reminded that our big annual event is also trying to get people to look up from their handheld devices long enough to participate in both exhibiting and this year’s parade. (Fresh off a blue ribbon from last year’s art exhibit, Boonville’s beloved weekly will again enter two items, both of which are guaranteed to inspire slack-jawed awe.)
RECOMMENDED VIEWING. Tom Killion’s woodcut prints of the California coast called "California's Wild Edge: The Coast in Poetry, Prints, and History,” currently at the Grace Hudson. The woodcuts are accompanied by really good poems by Californians including Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, Robinson Jeffers, the whole of it nicely arranged for exhibit.
ON TUESDAY the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously for a moratorium on new vacation rentals and imposed interim restrictions on existing rentals. Staff will come back with recommendations for a long-term ordinance by the end of September. Supervisor Dan Gjerde asked that the requirement for a major use permit for renting rooms be reduced to a minor use permit requirement. People with existing rentals can continue renting if they can prove that they have been renting rooms prior to August 1 and have their paperwork — license, permits, fees paid, bed tax registration, etc. — in order.
KATHERINE REDDICK has settled with the Anderson Valley School District and has resigned her position as Elementary School principal. High school principal, Keri St. Jeor, has also left the district, and both have also left the Anderson Valley. The hapless St. Jeor received no cash incentive to leave; Ms. Reddick’s departure was eased by a cash settlement, whose amount I have requested. Superintendent Michelle Hutchins herself is apparently under fire from at least two members of the now-four person school board because her contract will be re-negotiated in February, mid-school term. Both she and her family are committed to the Anderson Valley and want to stay, although they are still unable to find permanent housing and are looking in Ukiah. (AirBnB and other on-line vacation rental sites have taken a large number of rentals off the local market.) There are three seats up for election to the school board, although which of the four present trustees is leaving has not been revealed. Jim Snyder, formerly a teacher at the high school, has been appointed high school principal. The Elementary School may be led by an interim principal when classes resume in the fall.
IT SEEMS from here that in-house promotions are the only way to run contemporary school districts, especially ours in Anderson Valley where you have a largely tenured staff in place for many years. An outside person hired for an administrative position, especially one who demands some changes, is likely to run directly into a brick wall, which has happened with Superintendent Hutchins. She compounded resistance from entrenched staff by hiring St. Jeor and Reddick, neither of whom, as it turned out, she could work with, but both were her mistakes.
IS IT A STRETCH to say that the previous regime of JR Collins made it impossible for any outsider to step in? JR’s management plan was simple, but inimitable for anyone from the great world outside the Anderson Valley — hire all your friends and relatives and their sons and daughters, preference going to the ground floor Valley hippies of 1970. As back-up, vote as an edu-bloc for a school board that automatically votes yes on any proposition put in front of them. (JR’s school boards probably set the American school board record for consecutive Yes votes.) An amiable, not unintelligent person, JR was securely in place for years by simply sticking to the Nepo [nepotism] Plan, stringing out nice pay days for himself nearly as long as that Chauncey-like figure at the County Office of Education, Paul Tichinin. All you have to do in school admin is smile a lot and agree with everyone, since few people are paying attention anyway, and occasionally announce, “I really, really love these kids.” My advice to Ms. Hutchins is, “Agree with everyone and smile a lot.” Most teachers, like most people, try to do well the jobs they’re paid to do. It doesn’t matter all that much in the Boonville schools who’s sitting in the Superintendent’s chair. Education, loosely defined (very loosely) rumbles on.
THE AVA NOMINATES Sid Frazer as Elementary School principal, and we think Ms. Hutchins, battered by her critics as she is, should stay on as Superintendent because, presumably, she’s learned from her first two years that this operation pretty much runs itself. And three years in The Valley gives her tenure.
ONE OF MENDOCINO COUNTY'S truly gifted artisans is moving on. Ron Black, of Yorkville, says he's outta here by the end of the week. A new love interest in Oregon calls him north. The guy left for Texas once and came back. We all come back to this place. It gets it hooks in deep. We’ll miss Ron. Photos of Ron Black’s work can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/pg/ronblackart/photos/
AND SPEAKING of gifted artisans, AD Jones is another one. You can find him and his custom-made jewelry at the Caboose Complex, central Boonville. AD showed me, a non-jewelry guy, a pair of ear rings he’d crafted that made me take a closer look. A little outta my price range, but the lady in your life would do cartwheels to own them. Beautifully done.
TWO PUBLIC COMMENTS to the Supervisors on the transient rental situation came from Valley residents Don Shanley and Bob Gardner:
DON SHANLEY: “I have been a resident of the county for 47 years. I am a property owner in Anderson Valley. I am absolutely in favor of the moratorium. What I don't understand is, during this moratorium that county is subjecting property owners to increased liability and costs that will arise relating to claims of damages on their property while the current AirBnB rental owner is allowed to engage in business. A bunch of people go into Planning and Building and they apply for business permit; if they have an easement through another individual property owner that property owner all of a sudden has maintenance costs, has liability concerns. The County gets money, bed tax; the person renting their structure derives substantial income from these rentals but the person whose property they are driving through that is a mile or more off the public thoroughfare gets nothing but a liability and further expenses. I just don't understand where this arbitrary date of August 1 is coming from. If you applied for your business license, you don't have to have a use permit? You can just operate unlawfully? That's all I really want to bring up. That does not seem to be addressed by this. Also, it's incredibly unfair at best and perhaps incomplete defiance of existing use permit laws that are there to protect the health and welfare of everyone, not just someone who needs to bring in another couple grand a month to "survive." If they are all in a public thoroughfare I guess that's different. But if they have to drive through other private properties… Any person who can access a world wide website can all of a sudden come and push the keypad on my property gate to go through three other properties to get to a cottage with a full kitchen and the whole nine yards. I just think these things need to be addressed. Thank you.”
BOB GARDNER: “I would like to make a comment on the referendum that you are planning on discussing today. I personally don't see how you are going to enforce it. If you enact it today, how is anybody in the community that's thinking about opening up a temporary rental going to be aware of the ordnance? Are you going to put it in the newspaper? Are you sending out e-mails? Are you going to phone everybody? They will be immediately in violation of the ordinance. I personally tried to get a business license when I started AirBnB. I think I'm doing a service to the community. Mendocino's lifeblood is tourism. I have people coming to stay with us from all over the world. I don't know how they get to Philo but they do. We give them a choice. They don't want to stay in a motel. They don't want a swimming pool. They want to stay in a retreat center in the woods somewhere where they can have some privacy and walk in the woods and do whatever they want. They may come to attend the Fair, they might come to a community festival. They may come for the beer festival, for a wedding, whatever have you. We are giving them a choice. I was contacted again by the Planning Department after my last appearance and it said, as your parcel of does have footage on a publicly maintained road — that's a joke. Signal Ridge if you've ever been up there is definitely not a publicly maintained road. Panorama, where my driveway is, is maintained by the homeowners association and it’s in twice as good as the county road is. So that's kind of an oxymoron. He says that because my driveway is not on a publicly maintained road I would have to pay a $6100 now for a use permit. That's ludicrous. I'm not even sure I'm going to make $6000 in my rental over a period of time. And if God forbid, the board would outlaw temporary housing are you going to refund the $6000? I doubt it. Also you use the terminology of transient housing. As if that's a dirty word. Every B&B, hotel, motel depends on temporary housing. If we are being penalized because we are providing housing for transients then every other establishment would have to come under the same protocol.”
HELP THIS KID OUT, BOONVILLE PEOPLE “Hello, My name is Priya Tuvell and I'm a Master's of Agriculture graduate student. I have been accepted into an internship at Pennyroyal Dairy in Boonville, however I live in the bay area and would need to find a place to stay on a student's budget so I can complete this internship and take advantage of this great opportunity. The internship would take place 9/29 - 10/7. I thought I would reach out to some local businesses and realtors to see if anyone has any leads. I will be working basically from sunrise to sunset, and just need a place to sleep, shower, and prepare some simple meals like pasta or sandwiches. If you know of anything, or would be able to spread this email around at all, or print and hang somewhere it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Priya Tuvell (firstname.lastname@example.org)”
DRIVING OVER THE HILL to Ukiah last week a little before noon, I couldn't help but see three road workers down in a kind of defile wielding picks and shovels. It was already a hundred degrees outside. Whatever these guys are paid they're earning it.
LATER IN THE DAY, I read the following from one of the offices of County government: “The Work of Leadership: The HPO Project Teams have begun their initial meetings to work on specific issues identified by the Mendocino County Executive Leadership Team (MCELT) with input from the Expanded Leadership Team. Approximately 60 County employees representing all levels of service have volunteered to participate on project teams addressing communication, recruitment and retention, economic development, employee engagement, customer service, performance plans, and operational processes. The Leadership Reading Group will meet again on August 3rd, 12:00- 1:00pm in Conference Room B, 501 Low Gap Road, Ukiah. The current book is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni.”
COUNTY OFFICES are, of course, air conditioned, meetings on the vague pretense described above typical of what goes on in them.
THE POINT? There is work and there is work. The road crew was working, the County crew wasn't. In fact, the county crew can't work, because their heads are filled with this kind of gibberish.
THE SUNFLOWER FIELDS at the Saracina Winery, Hopland, are just coming on, and a more splendid annual sight you will not see in Mendocino County.
RAN STRAIGHT into former Mendo school chief Paul Tichinin at Mosswood Market. He was all smiles. He's always all smiles when he sees me, although I've been insulting him since 1975, at times on a weekly basis. He said, "Hello, Bruce. Great to see you!" I said, "How are you, Paul?" "Life is good," he said, "life is very good." Either the guy's an amnesiac, a holy fool in the Dostoyevskian sense, or he simply doesn't care what’s said about him since he got over for years in Mendocino County's easiest, best-paid job, a job without duties, and now lives on a fat pension. Well, heck, good for you, Paul. We should all be so fortunate, and you really ought to patent your ability to Zen-out your adversaries, of whom you no longer have even this one.
SO THIS GUY tells me that his grandson, 13, comes home from school one day and says, "We had this class today on homosexuality and I think I might be gay." Grandad, in his account, immediately produces two photos, one of a naked man, one of a naked woman, which he brandishes in the kid’s face. "Which one is more interesting to you?" In grandad's telling the kid immediately picked the female photo, which was a relief to gramps, and probably the reason he told me the story in the first place. It sounded kinda internetty to me, kinda urban legendy. If I had to do a hurry-up gay test for my grandson it would take me some time to find a naked photo of anyone, and there are a zillion other variables in play here, beginning with a kid’s desire to say what gramps wants him to say. But I didn't know the guy well enough to quiz him on it. I don't think 13-year-olds ought to be compelled to listen to stuff in school they aren't old enough to handle, let alone determine the truth of. It's not easy being young these days, and a kid is very lucky indeed, and probably in the minority, if he grows up around people who are fully sane, or at least sane enough to negotiate the reigning insanity.
THERE'S SO MUCH misinformation floating around anymore, even savvy truth-sifters like us (that’s a joke, literal people) have to constantly run our brains on re-check to sort it all out. Before the internet, misinformation wasn't as prevalent; you had to work at it, search it out via person-to-person gossip and newspapers. Anymore, the daily deluge of pure un-truth dumped on us everyday out of cyber-space, well, golly, no wonder Mendocino County is teeming with young mommies and daddies who believe, thanks to the internet, that vaccination is bad for their children!
I’VE FOUND Weather Underground to be the most accurate weather site. The one that popped up first the real hot day last week said it was 113 in Boonville. Weather Underground said it was 102.3. I doubt I could tell the diff between 102 and 113, but it's never been 113 anywhere in the county ever, that I know of, even in Covelo, consistently the hottest place in the county.
ALL ABOARD! AVA contributor Katy Tahja is on her way to Burning Man soon and can take one passenger, with a ticket, along with her. If anyone from the "Boonville Cabaret" camp needs a ride, or another Burner, give her a call at 937-5854. Ride-sharing is the way to go.
LAST THURSDAY NIGHT, the “Boonville Planners” got their first look at the initial approach the Sonoma County engineers are taking to plan for a possible municipal sewer system for Boonville. The preliminary “service area” runs from the Highway 253 intersection of Highway 128 over to the Airport with a possible leach or spray field either on the Airport property or on neighboring property owned by Eva Johnson and her son Gary.
THE SYSTEM would have to accommodate over 100 hookups, both residential and commercial in the service area. The engineers have complied a list of the “units” that would potentially be served and are considering either a gravity flow system (from southeast to northwest along Highway 128) or a pumped system. As with the water system, there is no determination yet on whether people would be required to hook up. Nor is there any information on the possible cost which will depend on which methods of collection, treatment and disposal are ultimately recommended.
SOCO ENGINEER Dave Coleman of Brelje & Race Engineering handed out photos of a pre-fab sewage treatment facility about the size of a large semi-truck which could be installed at the south end of Boonville, the effluent of which would then be piped over to the Airport area for dispersal or leaching. Coleman insisted that the treated sewage would have very little odor, and if run into a leach field would have no above ground odor at all.
THE MOST SIGNIFICANT OPTION involves whether to include a septic tank on the “lateral” pipe from the building to the sewer main which would pre-process the sewage solids and reduce the amount of solids going into the main system.
EITHER WAY, the solids would have to be periodically pumped out of either the on-site pre-septic tank or the collection/treatment tank on the south end of town and taken to an as yet unspecified unspecified "elsewhere."
A NEW ISSUE arose concerning the Fairgrounds which could be hooked up to the municipal system: how to handle a “surge” in sewage volume during large events such as the County Fair on the Music Festival. Dave Coleman said that so far he thinks that the Fairground’s existing facilities might be sufficient to handle such events which would mean that the municipal system would not have to be sized to accommodate that larger load.
COLEMAN said the first full report on the sewage system layout and alternatives (with cost estimates) would probably be available sometime this fall.
ONCE THE PRELIMINARY PLANNING AND SIZING IS DONE, the planners will also prepare an Environmental Impact Report. (Mark Scaramella)