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Mendocino County Today: March 5, 2012

FROM A MARCH 1937 ISSUE of the San Francisco Chronicle: “Death looked into the eyes of five sailors off the Farallones last Friday when a school of killer whales, mad with the blood lust as they slaughtered more than 100 seals, turned to attack the small boat off the lighthouse tender Sequoia. The killers appeared off the rocky island as a surfboat from the tender was put off with the regular weekly supplies. Five sailors, under second mate Charles B. Medd, were rowing shoreward when they sighted the seven killers engaged in a savage attack on the seals. Flashing through the scarlet water the whales slashed and ripped as the frightened seals fought toward the shore. Suddenly one of the killers sighted the churning oars of the small boat and streaked toward it. As the black fin cut the water, Medd ordered the oars pulled into the boat. The whale cut on through the water, its 25-foot bulk certain to overturn the boat. At the last moment, it dived. Satisfied that the object without movement was not alive, the killer returned to the pack for another attack on the seals. On the island O.R. Berg, lighthouse keeper and F. H. Hamilton, chief navy radioman, had looked on helplessly as they were without guns. The grim tragedy continued, the killing apparently was purely for sport, observers said. An army blimp from Sunnydale, which passed low over the island, played an unwitting part in the slaughter as many of the seals on shore, frightened at the sound of the motors and the sight of the sky monster, slipped back into the water to certain death before the killers' jaws.”

THE BEGINNING of the end for the ongoing Brooktrails scam? As expected, at the end of last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor John McCowen raised “the situation with the tax defaulted lots in Brocktrails.”

Entering Brooktrails

McCOWEN NEATLY stated the problem: “Out of the 60-some lots that we [the County of Mendocino] approved for auction, 40 of them were Brooktrails lots. All 40 failed to sell. So even the speculators who’d normally buy those lots apparently have an oversupply of worthless lots that they are unable to foist off on unsuspecting buyers. So nobody bid on them. The new information that I wasn't aware of, and it follows: if the County gets reimbursed if someone buys those lots, we recover the money that we pay out for taxes, assessments and fees. But when nobody buys those lots, the County is responsible through the Teeter Plan to pay the full amount of the taxes due [on unsold and unbuildable lots] to Brooktrails, the full amount of the assessments and fees that they add on. So on each worthless lot we paid, in addition to the property tax, $120 in assessments. They are increasing those assessments to $180 per year for water, sewer and fire, and for most of those lots the water and the sewer will never be available. What disturbs me is that it is $73,000 this year that the County is subsidizing Brooktrails with the fees going up it could be $110,000 next year. Just for the fees… The Brooktrails Specific Plan acknowledges that there are far more lots than will ever be built on. Their plan is to bring the lots down to a lower number that would be approved through consolidation or donation to the district. So the obvious solution, would be to donate these tax defaulted, essentially worthless lots to Brooktrails. The news article I read said that that is not allowed under the current system. So we have no option apparently but to go back out and try to auction them again. So what I will be requesting is that the Executive Office in coordination with the Treasurer and the Assessor bring this item back to the Board for discussion of what our options might be. And if there is some state legislation that needs to occur to address this and remedy it, maybe we should get in favor of that. Another option might be, since the lots are worthless, they should be assessed at zero dollars and that would reduce the property tax burden to the county.”

SUPERVISOR John Pinches: “And that's just the property tax, that's not the special assessments.”

McCowen: “Correct.”

CEO Carmel Angelo: “County Counsel and the Executive Office have been discussing this item. The Debt Committee that is composed of the Executive Office, County Counsel and the Auditor and the Treasurer will bring this back as an item to this Board.”

NO DATE was set, but now that even Supervisor Pinches seems to agree that something needs to be done, we think it will be sooner rather than later that at a minimum the unbuildable, unsalable Brooktrails lots will soon be assessed as having no value or given back to the Brooktrails board at no cost.

Frey Garden

WHAT CONNECTIONS do we have with nature? How do our gardens and our ideas of gardens reflect this relationship? How can we incorporate nature and ecological principles into our gardens? Sustainable gardening consultant and landscape designer Kate Frey will address these questions at the Mendocino County Museum on Sunday March 18. Her presentation is part of a closing celebration for the exhibition “A Passion for Plants & Place: Carl Purdy of Mendocino County” from 2-6pm. The afternoon will open with Curator Dot Brovarney and Purdy family members on hand in the gallery. At 2:45, Frey will present an illustrated talk titled “Nature-Based Design.” Her work in Mendocino County at Fetzer’s Valley Oaks garden and her award-winning designs at the Chelsea Flower Show are well known. She’ll also share her more recent garden experiences in Saudi Arabia. This free public event also will feature music by guitarist and singer-songwriter Clay Hawkins, a raffle, and wine and hors d’oeuvres. The festive afternoon concludes the nearly year-long run of “A Passion for Plants & Place: Carl Purdy of Mendocino County.” The Museum, at 400 E. Commercial St, in Willits, is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10:00 a.m. — 4:30 p.m. For information, contact (707) 459-2736 or visit — Dot Brovarny

MENDOCINO HIGH SCHOOL Alternative Education Week — “Dine-Out for Washington DC.” MacCallum House in Mendocino, Wednesday, March 14th 5-8:30 pm. 100% of the profits for the evening will benefit AE Week student trip to Washington, D.C. in April 2012. Dinner Location: MacCallum House 45020 Albion Street, Mendocino. Dinner served 5:30-8:30 pm, bar opens at 5 pm. We recommend calling MacCallum House for reservations: Call (707) 937-0289 or visit Please join us at the MacCallum House on Wednesday evening! Enjoy some great food and help send our local students to the nation’s capitol. — Jennifer Kalvass, 937-5871 (school),

UKIAH STANDS WITH RATTLESNAKE ISLAND — benefit dinner. Friday, March 9, 5-7:30pm. Ukiah Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse, 107 S. Oak St. This special evening of performances and presentations features:

• Jim Browneagle, Elem Pomo Spiritual Leader and historian

• Morning Star Gali, international Sacred Sites defender, Pit River Tribe

• John Parker, leading archeological authority on Rattlesnake Island and local prehistory

• an Elem Pomo youth dance troupe performance

• a raffle featuring beautiful traditional Elem crafts.

As you read these words, one of the Northern California East Bay Area’s wealthiest men is getting away with an act of cultural genocide in Lake County. Construction crews employed by wireless technology magnate John Nady of Emeryville recently began trenching grading, excavating, and building atop Rattlesnake Island in Clear Lake. For more than 6,000 years, this lush 56-acre island on the lake's eastern arm has been the cultural and spiritual center of the Elem Pomo. Lake County's message to the Elem: the one percent are exempt from our normal regulations. The construction proceeds on this sacred site because Nady received a special extension of Lake County’s normal grading season. In September, the Lake County Supervisors voted (3-2) against requiring that Nady file an Environmental Impact Review, when it was clearly required on account of intentionally shoddy archeological research. As part of a larger effort to return the island to its actual legal owner, the Elem, Friends of Rattlesnake Island — led by traditional Elem cultural leaders — is suing to stop Nady's construction. And they need our support. Sliding scale entrance fee: $10-$25. (Pay at least $20 and you receive a dinner featuring Indian tacos.) All funds will go to help support Friends of Rattlesnake Island For more information, contact or visit (text), or (audio)

Hendy Grove

KEEP HENDY WOODS OPEN! Navarro Vineyards Earth Day Celebration, A Benefit Barbeque & Auction To Keep Hendy Woods Open. Theodore Roosevelt once said “a grove of giant redwoods or sequoias should be kept just as we keep a great beautiful cathedral.” Mendocino County is fortunate to have an abundance of spectacular “cathedrals” gracing its landscape with our state parks. Hendy Woods State Park in Philo is one of the 8 state parks slated for closure by this summer, July 1st, 2012. In honor of Earth Day, Navarro Vineyards, together with the Hendy Woods Community, is sponsoring a benefit barbeque & silent auction to raise money to help keep Hendy Woods State Park open. Please join the Anderson Valley community on Earth Day, Sunday, April 22, from noon to 3pm at Navarro Vineyards, 5601 Hwy 128, Philo, CA 95466 for an afternoon of fun with delicious locally produced food, Navarro wines, music and a silent auction. Celebrate Earth Day in a beautiful Anderson Valley setting, while helping Hendy Woods stay open for all to enjoy. Tickets for this event are $45 for adults, which includes 2 drink tickets, and $25 for children. Purchase your tickets now, as this will be a sold out event. Tickets are limited, and only available online at If you wish to support this event, but are unable to attend, you can purchase a “no show” ticket for $25. All proceeds will go toward keeping Hendy Woods open. Contact: Navarro Vineyards, 707 895-3686/800 537-9463. Email:


And it’s clearly not too early to tell

they have no water or sewer.

Even if there were fewer,

they’d still be worthless. Oh well!


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