Off the Record

by AVA News Service, October 12, 2010

AGAIN, OUR PAPERS are lost. Or languishing at Petaluma's vast sorting center. Or some combination thereof. The Bay Area got its AVA's, as did Vermont and Atlanta and Philadelphia. The Northcoast didn't get their papers. Nice Post Office People keep answering the phone when we call to complain, and they keep on tell­ing us “We're looking into it.”

CHRISTINA AANESTAD is now running K-MEC, a low-watt radio station operating out of the Mendocino Environment Center, Ukiah. She's smart and capable, making her a rare bird indeed in the, ah, uh, inland aviary whose turbulent roost is ruled by The One True Green and other local politicos of fleeting mental perspicacity. Speaking of OTG, the other day I was chatting with a caller when she suddenly exclaimed, “Sorry, I gotta go. Richard Johnson is coming on K-MEC!” I laughed, then I wondered at a life so desolate, so utterly bereft of even the most ordinary delights, that it looked forward to lis­tening to The One True Green. Not that I claim to be Mr. Excitement, but frankly I was shocked. It was like some­one saying, “Gotta go. David Broder's on tv.” Anyhoo, KMEC's signal reaches no further than the Ukiah Valley, but with a capable, on-task person like Ms. Aanestad doling out the meds, the station just might be able to raise the money to boost its signal, thus presenting long overdue competition for KZYX. Miz A is off to a good start; she's already signed up KC Meadows of the Ukiah Daily Journal who got her start in radio and is very good at it. At a stroke, then, K-MEC has an articulate, intelli­gent, un-crazy, un-boring person hosting a weekly talk show, and how many radio stations here in Wacky Land can make that claim?

OF COURSE K-MEC remains heavy on a range of unsupported hippie bullshit of the “Mayan dates with white galactic mirrors” variety, but public radio should, if it is to truly reflect the public it allegedly serves in these fragmented times, offer a little bit of everything and K-MEC, under Ms. Aanestad, seems to understand that.

LAST WEEK the Mendocino Council of Governments — MCOG — pronounced by the cognoscenti as emm-cogg — announced that Caltrans has awarded it a $90,000 planning grant to develop a Rails with Trails Corridor Plan, with a focus on the silent track between Hopland to Willits. Rails-to-trails would be good thing for Mendocino County, a surefire attraction to hikers and bicycle people because the abandoned track running up the Russian River Valley remains, unlike nearby 101, a truly scenic corridor. Rails to trails on the similarly abandoned tracks from Willits north to Eureka remains the only feasible use for that ghostly, but even more sce­nic, stretch of abandoned rail. MCOG will, of course, grab the 90 thou, announce that rails-to-trails is a really, really cool idea and everyone will go back to sleep.

MARI RODIN of the Ukiah City Council thinks MCOG will put the $90,000 to good use. “This grant will take us one step closer to solidifying trail connections with our neighbors in Marin, Sonoma, and Humboldt Counties to build a globally recognized and renowned trail system linking San Francisco to Eureka. Once completed, a rail with trail corridor though Mendocino County will bestow economic, public health, and environmental benefits all along the North Coast region.” It would indeed, but to accomplish it means somehow getting the North Coast Rail people to move towards accomplishing it.

MCOG upped the rhetoric even further by saying the $90k “will result in a prioritized list of rails-with-trails projects along the rail corridor, taking into account potential inter-regional connections with other bike and pedestrian routes. The intent is to eventually connect Mendocino County's trail with the leg to be built in Humboldt County.”

THE TRAIL would be developed in phases, says MCOG, following approvals and as funding becomes available. “The grant award dovetails with burgeoning efforts to make walking and biking a more common form of transportation.” The planning process is expected to start in early 2011, meaning it's unlikely that any of us now alive will enjoy a leisurely stroll or bike ride from the fleshpots of Hopland to the delights of Ukiah and Willits. Another big rain year is also likely to seal the Eel River Canyon forever to even the dream of converting its disappearing railroad tracks to a hiking and biking path.

DA MEREDITH LINTOTT was occasionally ferocious at last week’s DA debate: “When you have a murder, the district attorney damn well better file and not put a violent offender back on the street,” adding that if a defense attorney showed evidence of innocence, “the district attorney damn well better dismiss.”

HMMM… Garrett Matson spent the night trying to con­vince his former girlfriend, Katlyn Long, not to leave him. In the morning Matson was alive and Katlyn Long wasn't. A non-drug person, she had somehow died from an overdose of methadone. If DA Lintott thinks that Miss Long wasn't murdered, make the police reports public. Otherwise, “the district attorney damn well better file.”

THE DA did provide a moment of unintentional comic relief when she complained of her opponent, “His cam­paign is an attack on my incumbency.” It can happen in an election, Meredith.

THE MOST SENSIBLE thing said all night was candi­date Eyster's, “We can't afford the prosecution that is going on in this county. The system is breaking — liter­ally breaking — in the courthouse.” Mendocino County cops file a report, our DA hauls it into court. And even our platoon of judges, more judges per capita than any county in the state, can't keep up. Most of the load is dope-related, typically busted down to laughable warn­ings from the bench to go forth and toke no more.

MEGAN MURPHY, 5'8” and 130 pounds, is our man beater of the week. Megan popped her old man one last week, and he called the cops on her.

PETER HOWE, 51 of Fort Bragg, 6'4” and 230 pounds is our Guy On The Wrong Drug person of the week.

PG&E’S SMARTMETERS has the tinfoil hat people in a major tiz, greater even than the one they got into over cell phone towers. That one drove poor old Art Firsten­berg, a hall of fame tinfoil hatter, clear out of the County. Last heard from, Art had sued a neighbor, claiming the radiation from her cell phone was interfering with his brain waves. The tinners, not one of whom, I daresay, has mastered high school physics, don't seem to under­stand that while SmartMeters are unlikely to diminish their already hopelessly damaged mental capacities, KZYX, where they get a lot of their lunatic information, is a hundred percent likely to make them even crazier. And dumber. The tinfoil hat people were out in force at last week's Supe's meeting in Fort Bragg. Each Smart­Meter foe received a hearty round of applause. Coast astrologer Antonia Lamb’s remarks were typical: “The lowest power frequencies are the ones that are closest to our own bio-electric fields and interrupt our immune system's signals,” a nice blend of the unfounded and the preposterous. No one, it seemed, had bothered to read the descriptive materials PG&E provided to the Board. No one complained about the jobs that the SmartMeters will eliminate, nor the possible lack of accuracy and the opportunity for jiggering that the computerized devices present, or the fact that PG&E is not a public utility like it's supposed to be — the real problems, in other words.

ACCORDING TO PG&E “The average SmartMeter radio signal exposure is roughly the same as a person standing outside your home periodically making extremely short cellular telephone calls during the day totaling 45 seconds.” PG&E also insists there are no fire risks. “We have not had a single instance of a Smart­Meter causing a fire. Although electrical fires, for exam­ple in an electrical panel, have caused meters to burn, SmartMeters do not cause those fires. Any meter will burn in a fire, but the notion that SmartMeters cause fires is absolutely inconsistent with our experience after installing more than six million meters.”

THE BOARD of course “took no action” on the Smart­Meters because SmartMeters 'sare beyond the purview of boards of supervisors, as is MLPA and Navy maneuvers a hundred miles offshore, also high priority concerns of Mendo's nutball brigade.

THE BOARD PACKET for the Fort Bragg meeting contained a map of the route from Ukiah to Fort Bragg, perhaps on the assumption that inland tinfoil hat people, their brain waves under continuous assault from contrails and pesticide-laden cannabis, might have forgotten how to get there.

LAST WEEK the County announced an agreement with their “management association” bargaining unit. The managers took a 10% pay cut in their base pay. BUT. They still get $800 per year for “work related education training and health bennies, eight free additional hours of sick time to participate in the County’s “wellness pro­gram,” a $2500 interest free loan every three years for computers and associated equipment, 11 paid holidays, and at least 7 weeks of paid vacation — 9 weeks after eight years, 11 weeks after 15 years. Plus, they get six days of “management leave,” and six weeks of sick leave. Then there’s disability leave, industrial leave, catastrophic leave and bereavement leave, as applicable. In addition, all unused sick counts toward pension points. Essentially, the management team gave up very little. As did the similarly well-paid department heads a few months ago.

LAST WEEK the Santa Rosa Press Democrat ran some stories, some local, others wire service, about the current rash of foreclosures. SoCo congressperson Lynn Wool­sey was quoted saying, “We think there something amiss.” Amiss? JP Morgan Chase was apparently “skirting the [foreclosure] laws in some other states.” And Jim Finefrock, director of communications for California Attorney General's Office, went so far as to say, “It suggests strongly that they are not doing due diligence under California law.” The PD’s Nathan Hal­vorson reported, “GMAC and Chase suspended foreclo­sure proceedings in 23 states where bank executives are required to sign an affidavit stating they personally reviewed each case. Apparently, some executives who signed the foreclosure documents had not reviewed each case.” You don't say. The bank execs didn’t review each case? We’re shocked! Shocked, I tell you! Halvorson continued, “The failure of bankers and politicians to resolve the problem has left taxpayers on the hook for much of the financial loss because the federal govern­ment has essentially insured most mortgages. In fact, national banks often lose little money when foreclosing on a home because the mortgage often was insured by the government or sold to someone else. So when a loan modification fails, the financial loss is most frequently incurred by taxpayers.”

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