Rough Notes & Random Thoughts

by Mike Geniella, September 15, 2010

It was unintentional, but I’m happy to have taken the summer off from writing my blog for theAVA.com. I know some of you feel the same but that’s not the point.
It was a period of simple, personal adventures that allowed me to drift from the obsession to keep up with the trivia of local life, large and small. And once again I learned how good it is to step outside my own little world.
Still what goes on day in and day out can’t be ignored, so here I am back to sifting through the minutiae of life in Mendo Land. Not surprisingly my renewed attention to the daily details of community life leaves me either bored or confused, irritated and in a few cases downright angry. A few bright spots, of course. But too few of them.
There’s my “who cares” list, the longest of them all.
For example, I can handle seeing our old friend Darryl Cherney’s mug on the front page of the Chronicle. Darryl has practiced self promotion for 25 years or more, and few can match his relentless approach. This time around Darryl was castigating the FBI for wanting to dump evidence in the still unsolved 1990 Judi Bari car bombing. Darryl said it should be turned over to he and other concerned citizens so tests can be done in hopes of finding the bomber. Okay, but frankly the DNA-based evidence that matters is already in public hands. What we’re still missing folks is cooperation from a band of people who most likely could help solve the crime if they stepped forward and submitted a swab of their own saliva. Enough said.
No it’s not Darryl, nor even the antics of a cast of local political characters with nary a fresh face in the crowd who get under my skin. (Can you believe former Rep. Dan Hamburg is running for county supervisor again, or for that matter my 1970s less-is-more hero Jerry Brown trying to return as governor?)
Neither is it the endless debate over marijuana, an illicit cash crop that’s brought new wealth but a host of serious problems to Mendocino and other pot-growing meccas. At first I too thought legalizing dope to take the big profits and crime out of a violence-prone underground industry would be a step forward, but now I’m not so sure. Local growers would probably be hit hard in the pocket book by a market collapse if marijuana were legalized, but yet the “corporate” growers – I’m talking hardcore drug peddlers - who cater to users in states where pot is still illegal might not feel the pain at all. It could be business as usual because local law enforcement still won’t have the resources to police them.
So what’s bugging me?
Two development-related issues, folks. Big developments that could reshape the way we live, especially in the Ukiah Valley.
We’ve got the city of Ukiah swooning over the prospects of Costco coming to town, and an anticipated $1 million a year in new sales tax revenue. No matter that Costco could deliver the final blow to a charming downtown area already reeling from the effects of big box development in the valley. You want to shop at Costco? Spend the $20 for gas and drive to Santa Rosa. We don’t need one here.
A related issue is the state proposal to build a new $120 million courthouse. Little doubt one is needed. The current monstrosity of a building in downtown was ill-conceived in the 1950s, and nothing has changed since its construction.
Still the courthouse is a major downtown employer, and the comings and goings of hundreds of people daily is a boon to local businesses. Try getting a table at Schat’s at lunchtime, for example.
Yet the public seems apathetic about where to build. There’s been talk about a new site around the recently renovated Ukiah Railroad Depot, or a site on the north side of Perkins Street which is largely publicly owned.
The closer to downtown the better is my thought. But then I learned that a site in the so-called Brush Creek Triangle at the eastern edge of town along the Highway 101 freeway is still being bandied about. Damn, haven’t we learned anything from the hodgepodge of development statewide over the last 50 years?
On these two issues, please get involved. The outcomes will define how we live in this county for decades to come.

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